X is for Xenophobia
Xenophobia is “an unreasonable fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange” (courtesy of dictionary.com 🙂 ). It is the discomfort with what is different from us.
I didn’t even know this word existed until this year, when I took a class on European politics. It is an interesting concept, and I’m glad there is an English word for this term. It is so appropriate in so many contexts.
Nowadays people seem to like to easily dismiss something as “racist” or “closed-minded,” but the more appropriate term for a lot of those situations is xenophobic.
We may not like that this concept exists, but it makes sense. Humans crave familiarity. When faced with something unfamiliar, it is only natural to recoil.
All animals do this. It is innate.
Where humans differ from other animals is that we have the capacity to decide to be more open to the unfamiliar.
If we want to change our quick-to-judge society, we each have to make the conscious effort to be more open-minded. All this takes is the willingness to understand.
After we make an actual effort to understand, only then can we choose to accept or reject the person or group or idea with which we are unfamiliar.
After that, then we can embrace it if we choose to.
We don’t have to accept every new concept that comes our way, but it is only fair that we as cohabitants of this earth make a sincere effort to understand.