Thursday, April 28, 2011

X is for Xenophobia

From an unreasonable fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange.

Yea, I think we can all relate to that, at least a little bit. Maybe not so much the foreigners part, but the foreign or strange portion most definitely. Resistance to change has been a societal problem since society started. It’s like moving from vinyl to 8-track to cassette tape to CD and now, finally, digital music. Each one has caused trepidation and, “Yeaaaa, I dunno...” thoughts from a lot of people. But it doesn’t just end with technology. We are generally unreasonably afraid to change our own lives.

Take the couple who has been married, albeit miserably, for quite some time. Each of them stays in the situation because it’s just easier, and because it’s difficult to predict what will happen if they jump into the deep end without their arm-floaties on. So, they remain together, miserably, because they are unreasonably afraid of the changes that will happen in their lives should they split up. Couples like that keep Dr. Phil in business.

Or maybe you’ve been doing something the same way for years and years and, although you know it isn’t best, you refuse to change your methods. Maybe people even tell you that the way you do a certain thing is ridiculous, and point you to an easier street. You don’t change, though. Not you. After all, you have been doing it that way forever. I suppose there’s some fear of looking like an idiot mixed in there, too, because nobody really likes to be proved wrong. But mostly, it’s fear of changing things you are comfortable with. Xenophobia.

How many times have you heard someone say that they have no talent when asked to do something cool like paint a picture or play an instrument? “No, that’s for other people. I can barely walk straight, haha,” they say. So you ask them how many times they’ve tried to paint a picture or play an instrument, and they almost always reply that they never have. Here, they are scared of failing and creating something that looks or sounds really stupid, but also irrationally afraid of doing something new and different, like painting or playing the tuba.

I find that the older a person gets, the more likely they are to suffer from xenophobia. They are set in their ways, their ma and pa taught them a certain way to live and they are going to abide by it, to the bitter end. That is fine, as long as Ma and Pa taught you to always have an open mind and try all kinds of things. At least things that don’t regularly risk your life. Being scared of skydiving, for instance, wouldn’t be xenophobia even if you’ve never done it. That’s being scared of jumping out of an airplane and landing really hard. Nothing wrong with that.


KBalbify said...

I am xeno on smoking. Can't imagine my life without it though I know I would be better off. Thanks for the edumacation.

Theresa Wiza said...

I'm not phobic about strangers or foreigners. Put a wasp in my way, though, and you're likely to see me dance. Please find my latest A-Z Challenge here: