Merriam-Webster defines xenophobia as: fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign.
While feeling a little trepidation about people or things which aren’t known to us is understandable, feeling extreme fear or hatred is beyond my comprehension…unless we’re talking about jumping from a bridge with a bungee cord attached to my ankle…that’s the sort of unknown which would instill fear in me for sure. For the purpose of this post however, let’s focus on people.
To feel hatred of someone just because they look, speak, or believe differently than we do has been the cause of so many of the most tragic, atrocious acts in our history…both ancient and recent. Think about the Crusades, the Holocaust, the Salem witch trials, and the genocide at Darfur just to name a few. All of these tragedies occurred due to the type of hatred we’re talking about.
I won’t even try to examine the various so called reasons behind acts such as the ones mentioned, because that would be almost like offering an excuse for something inexcusable. When it comes down to it, there just is no reason. I feel very fortunate to have never felt those sorts of feelings toward others. In some ways, it’s sort of hard to fathom given where I come from…which is a place where there is little to no diversity.
Despite growing up in a place with a lot of xenophobia, I believe that I was able to escape that mindset because there were so many things about me and my family which were different. It wasn’t easy, not that I am complaining, because all of the experiences I’ve had in my life both good and bad have formed me into the person I am today. At the time it was very difficult to be singled out due to those differences and while it was mild comparatively, it was enough to teach me how it felt, and to know that I would not want to inflict those feelings upon anyone else.
How do you feel about this?