– xen·o·pho·bi·a- Noun
|Intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries.|
“In the 24th century there will be no hunger, there will be no greed, and all the children will know how to read.” – Gene Roddenberry
All of us have prejudice. It is a natural part of being human. One might almost term it instinctual. We are wired to be concerned about, even afraid of that which is unfamiliar.
In our small world, made so by jet transportation and the internet, we have been thrust into an environment that could not even be imagined by the majority of mankind. Prior to the twentieth century most folks were born, lived and died within the range of a few miles. Dialects developed, cultures within cultures; a man’s world was homogeneous and familiar.
In the past century or two we have s-l-o-w-l-y learned to live as neighbours with people from the other side of the globe. Most of us have even grown to realize that our differences give us strength.
The path has not been easy. Much prejudice, misunderstanding, hatred and violence has littered the pathway to the mostly heterogeneous planet we now occupy.
The 1960’s science fiction series, Star Trek, embodied concepts of equality in a way often ahead of its time.
“The glory of creation is in its infinite diversity. And the way our differences combine to create meaning and beauty” -Mr. Spock
Just one example of social commentary undertaken within the structure of the futuristic characters and plots in which mankind had long since learned to work together. Yet much base desire for power and misunderstandings are often predicated on race and remain as part of the challenge even in Star Trek’s twenty fourth century setting.
We are still a long way from equality for all but have made what could be considered lightning paced advances. We have see women’s rights move forward, the end to institutional racism, the equal rights struggle and most recently, the massive shift in opinion concerning sexual orientation.
We may be a long way from perfect but the immense changes in the corporate psyche in our lifetime are greater than hundreds of lifetimes before us.
The majority of us have learned to set aside what may be an inherent tendency toward fear and rejection. We have made a conscious decision to be tolerant, accepting, even loving toward people and places that are in no way familiar to us.
What is the agent of such fast change?
Education. Exposure. Understanding.
When we understand something or someone— when we have had the opportunity to experience them as only superfluously different, we understand that our similarities are much greater than our differences. That we all want the basic human right to live free of fear, with opportunity to better ourselves and take care of our loved ones.
We are on a course to prove the world of Star Trek and science fiction —as fact. We may even outpace the fictional time line as we learn more and more about each other each and every day.
May we relegate this “X” phobia to the pages of history as we move forward into the brave new world Gene Roddenberry envisioned…and more. For it is when we stop putting our energy into shunning and fighting those different than us that we have the stuff to move forward as a planet. Borders are now and have always been a construct of men. We are one planet, one heart with one dream—life.
“The strength of a civilization is not measured by its ability to fight wars, but rather by its ability to prevent them.” G. Roddenberry