I’ve spent a lot of time recently trying to figure out why America feels like it’s on the verge of a complete breakdown. Among other things, there is a never-ending stream of violent acts, a ton of angry and hateful rhetoric, and a strong undercurrent of racism. All this negativity often feels suffocating, as if we are drowning in a wave of our worst impulses. So why are these things happening?
I used to think that racism, disdain for the “other,” and disregard for each other’s lives were causes of the type of societal turmoil we’re currently seeing in America. Recently, though, I’ve realized that those things are effects, not causes. They are the effects of fear. It is the fear of those who are different, a paranoia caused by unknown races, faces, cultures, and lifestyles, that is leading to the words and actions that threaten to tear us apart.
There are two ways in which we can respond to those who are different from us. We can welcome them with the knowledge that part of what makes humanity so amazing is the fact that we are all extremely different. Even those of us who share a skin color, or a language, or a religion, are different from each other in countless ways.
It is this appreciation for the unique ways in which we’ve been created that leads to peace, love, and the betterment of society as a whole. God knows we can use each of those right about now.
In contrast, when we react to each other’s differences with fear, trepidation, and condescension, we create an atmosphere that allows for the type of mistrust, violence, and hate that is all too rampant in America at the moment.
These problems won’t be solved by our government. They won’t be solved by continued separation of people by race, religion, and world-view. They will only be solved when we, a wonderfully diverse and beautifully complicated people, learn to not fear others, but instead, to find the good and the great in those who are not like us.