Xenophobia by definition is an unreasonable fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers or that which is foreign or strange. It is plain for me to see, when watching the daily news, that xenophobia is as alive and as rampant in the world as it ever was over the millennia of existence of mankind on earth. To me at times it does seem possible that this is a human instinct ingrained in the DNA of man…part of the original fight or flight mechanism which is more usually assigned to animals. But by all accounts, we humans have the amazing, unique and highly developed capacity to reason and should therefore be able to think our way through this instinctive response to all things strange. Well, you would think so any way. However, around the world the hate mongering of some is still spreading like a virus. In many cases it appears to be passed on at a familial level in the form of personal distrusts from parents. This type of subtle bias against others that appear different may seem to be benign. But even at that level it is as infectious as a cancer. In other cases it is overt and deliberate indoctrination of a society, sect, group, religion, country or whatever by those blindly (and sometimes not so blindly at all) ingraining xenophobic beliefs in the masses. Even patriotism with its intrinsic value of unifying a country is a dubious tool when used to engender xenophobic propaganda against another country. I am seeing this daily in news reports from around the world and in more local news stories as well. Individuals worldwide need to stop and think about what is happening on a global scale as well as in our own backyards. It is not always just the “other guy”…think about that with complete objectivity. What truly ingenious act of humanity can I as an individual set into motion to help dismantle the wall that is building between groups of people? How can I as an individual effect a change that could have a global consequence of breaking down that which has been defined by xenophobia as an insurmountable difference worthy of war, terrorism and persecution? I can have an open and honest dialogue with others with whom I come into contact on a daily basis regardless of the differences which seem to set us apart. I can express my own feelings about slurs so often slung randomly about as jokes or euphemisms…some people simply need to be reminded that it is inappropriate in a society that seeks to expand human kindness and acceptance. I, as an individual, can encourage youngsters to embrace the differences that present themselves. I can have discussions which involve not just the differences but the numerous facets that make all of us the same. I can make every effort to promote the idea of a worldwide society based on warm-heartedness toward all people regardless of religion, ethnicity, nationality or whatever the perceived difference is. I can take care and due diligence with my own thought processes…I can start right here within my own self to effect a change. We all can! Is it too large a task to change the world for the betterment of all mankind? It is only too large if no one tries.
Am I looking at the world through rose-colored glasses…just dreaming of the perfect world? No, there is a potential for change. What is needed is enough people willing to make the effort….enough people in each and every society. It can begin with one person and grow exponentially through society in the spirit of making the world a better place for everyone. Acceptance and tolerance of the differences can make for change but first each and every person who is willing to try has to actually do so regardless of global location.