Noun: an unreasonable fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange. (dictionary.com)
I have a theory about fear, so bear with me. I believe that every fear in the universe can be traced to one of two root fears: the fear of pain, or the fear of the unknown.
So many people fear death because no one knows for sure what happens to one’s consciousness beyond taking that final breath. Fear of the unknown. Many people fear hospitals because of the establishment’s association with illness and surgery (fear of pain). A child fears the dark for the reason that the dark creates a sense of unknown. Said child fears monsters because monsters could cause physical harm and pain to them. People fear war for reasons of both fearing pain and the unknown. People fear other people for their fear of the unknown.
This, my friends, is where I believe the foundation for fundamentalist religion and social prejudices occurs. People fearing people. People fearing the unknown. Therefore, fearing the unknown and unfamiliar is the root of so much unecessary animosity.
Every religion has a fundamentalist branch. Usually, such branches represent a vast minority of the religion’s population. But oftentimes, it is this small extreme base that yells the loudest and the longest. I think that it’s not an offense mechanism. It’s a defensive mechanism. It is the fundamentalist Muslims (the ones who are willing to strap on bomb belts for their god) who fear those who don’t share their beliefs. Perhaps they fear their beliefs being destroyed by outside religions. I cannot speak directly for them, of course. Regardless, this fear of the outside coming in to ruin their way of life is apparently enough of a motivation for them to sacrifice their lives in order to take out so many other lives.
Fundamentalists Christians follow a strikingly similar way of thinking (ironic, seeing as many fundamenalist Christians come with a heaping sidedish of Islamophobia). Only their defense is not outright murder (not counting if you’re gay or an abortion doctor), but infiltrating a public government that is meant to serve everyone of ever race, gender, and creed, and using said influence to preserve what they value. Fundamentalist fear their traditions being rendered obsolete, and as such, they fear what will happe to them on a societal level if their traditions cannot back them up. As a result of their atempts to infiltrate government, Congress bickers and can no longer come to a unified cause of helping their people, which is, what one would think, a democractic government would be for in the first place. The entire country suffers.
Bullies in schools cause others pain in response to their own fear of being socially ostracized. Being seen as vulnerable is scary for anyone, because no one knows what pain that could bring upon someone until they experience it.
You get my drift, yes?
I see xenophobia as the sole element that can destroy humanity. Fearing what is different from yourself (and, as such, fearing the unknown). What is the one force that can truly defeat xenophobia? Education.
You can’t always agree with other people. The world has over seven billion people, and as such, there are seven billion different ideas about the world and how it works floating around. But what one can do in order to inch that much closer to world peace is learning about that which you do not understand. Turn on the light and rid yourself of the dark unknown. Perhaps you’ll see that there aren’t any monsters in your closet waiting to eat you.
But so many people see violence as their only defense, even when education can be a much stronger defense, that I can’t see this rashness as anything but human nature. It is human nature to fear.
Maybe I’m starting to ramble a bit, but I just don’t understand why fundamentalist zealots can’t pull up information on those who they see as ‘their enemies.’ What is remarkable is how they all share the same thought processes, just switching the tiny details. Perhaps in discovering this, SOMEONE can show a little bit of empathy.
There’s your first step towards a better, more peaceful world right there.