The Fear of “Not Like Me”

I’ve been thinking a lot recently – actually, a lot on this topic since college days, but also a lot recently – about all these differences between people that some folks seem so frightened of.

What follows is just my opinion, no matter how valid I think it is.

This fear is really stupid, and it’s exhibiting a lower level of civilization than most humans should allow. It’s nothing more than xenophobia, which is understandable as a survival characteristic in lower life forms, but should be outgrown by adult humans.

People are comfortable with what they know, what they’re familiar with, and are afraid of anything different. The fear is unjustified, but that doesn’t make it go away.

People observe a person with some distinguishing characteristic – be it race, religion, hairstyle, gender, gender preference, mode of dress, skin color, facial features, build, body art … it doesn’t matter what. People observe a person with a distinguishable characteristic, and they then observe (or hear of) that person exhibiting a certain behavior, and boom. Suddenly everyone who has that characteristic is expected to exhibit that same behavior.

This doesn’t apply merely to people. It applies to entire cultures, nationalities, races, you name it.

Remember in the 1950’s and 60’s when “Made in Japan” was synonymous with cheap and junky? About the highest quality item you could expect from Japan then was a tiny paper umbrella. But few Americans of that time had seen the exquisite woodworking, carvings, paintings, native to the country.

Why do supposedly civilized people today insist on tarring everyone with a certain characteristic with the same brush? I suppose it’s a combination of the tendency to overlook massive faults in one’s own civilization, the inherent craving to think you and “your people” are somehow better than those other people, and the stupidity of people who refuse to exercise their brain muscle, to come to the realization that there are wonderful people and total jerks in ANY group you can name.

Criminality, stupidity, obnoxiousness, and slimeballness is not the exclusive domain of any distinguishable group. These attributes are found everywhere.

However, wonderful people are also everywhere. And a great many of them are “not like me.”

All you have to do is open your eyes and mind and find them.

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