Post No.: 0024
Most of us fear or worry about the unknown or the uncertain. Some of our greatest fears tend to be ones that exist solely or mainly in our own anticipations, assumptions or imaginations e.g. in general, the more densely-packed and diverse cosmopolitan communities that have a good mix of ethnicities know that different ethnicities can get along – they know that foreigners and immigrants are just humans like themselves, with good and bad individuals like within every other group (there are even evidently good and bad priests for instance i.e. one should never generalise like this), thus stereotypes are untenable; but communities that are mostly homogenous generally fear ‘outsiders’ the most and believe in more propaganda and stereotypes about them.
Those who live amongst a supposed source of fear or uncertainty tend to be more okay with it, and those who don’t tend to have such fears consciously or subconsciously rule them. The imagination or presumption of a threat is a greater influence than the lived reality – psychological horror films where the audience fills in the gaps with their own anticipations and assumptions tend to be scarier than overtly gory horror films. Meow.
We find uncertainty aversive. We fear what we don’t know or don’t understand – but if we actually got to know that thing, or know what will happen, or know the person or people from an outgroup more closely, then we’ll tend to be okay with it or them. The less we are exposed to and know about something or someone, the more we’ll fear what that something or someone might do, and the more we’ll be swayed by false generalisations, stereotypes and propaganda regarding that thing, person or group. The people most knowledgeable about venomous snakes, spiders or other deadly creatures are typically the least frightened of these creatures (they still respect these animals, and maybe still fear them to a degree – but they won’t be the ones panicking and screaming at the mere sight of them, nor the ones attempting to violently kill or shoo them when the animal is not at that moment attacking or about to attack them, nor the ones inciting someone else to do that on their behalf!) so it even applies to things that are truly dangerous.
People who are sufficiently exposed first-hand with, or are better educated regarding, a ‘source of fear’ don’t need to imagine anything about them and so tend to feel less fearful of that supposed ‘source of fear’; and this applies to absolutely anything. Second-hand gossip and hearsay only gives the illusion of knowledge – if you really want to know people then interact with them first-hand in their normal settings. People who aren’t sufficiently exposed first-hand with or aren’t better educated regarding a ‘source of fear’ will always tend to over-exaggerate the presence of that ‘source of fear’ too due to having to rely on salience and the ‘availability heuristic’ (people make judgements about the likelihood of an event based on the ease with which examples come to mind – typically, in this context, because those examples are fuelled by the media or one’s own echo chambers e.g. people who fear the effects of immigration tend to have thoughts of immigrants over-represented in their minds and so tend to vastly overestimate the percentage of immigrants (or people of ‘undesirable groups’) and vastly underestimate the percentage of people in ‘desirable groups’ in their country). Hence those who fear something tend to over-estimate the presence or likelihood of those things too.
So in general, those who live or work in diverse places are less prejudiced against ethnic minorities because they live or work close enough with them on a daily basis to know that they’re generally alright people (as generally alright or not as people in their own ingroups on average, or at least they know of at least one example of a decent person in each of these outgroups to know their entire respective group should not be tarred with the same brush, if they should even be grouped at all), and so they hold fewer negative stereotypes, assumptions and fears about ethnic minorities compared to others such as those who live and work in less diverse places and who aren’t or haven’t previously been exposed to enough people of ethnic minorities and/or haven’t been educated about them well enough. Therefore sufficient close exposure and/or education are the keys to reducing or eliminating crude stereotypes and prejudices toward outgroups.
Racial stereotyping, such as ‘all Muslims are related to terrorists’ or ‘all Westerners are kafir or fajir’, only inflames divides, thus exacerbates the risk of future violence rather than works towards a state of peace. They create self-fulfilling prophecies. If you stereotype people or fear things because you don’t understand them well enough – then the answer is for you to get some education and to interact with those outgroups more, or to try that thing for yourself, and see things from the inside or first-hand before you ever judge so harshly. If you fear something – first look to yourself to build knowledge and thus courage; you are empowered to reduce your own stresses! (And who doesn’t want to live in less fear and stress?!) Knowledge logically reduces the fear of unknowns or lesser-knowns, such as ‘outsiders’, and therefore increases tolerance and togetherness. If all sides can achieve this then peace is attainable and maintainable.
And logically these foreign people cannot be that incapable of love and harmony towards fellow human beings otherwise they wouldn’t even be able to get along with themselves in any great number(!) There may be some infighting but it cannot involve most of them otherwise their populations would be rapidly dwindling or naturally selected out!
Knowledge is the antidote to the unknown, and therefore the solution to our fears of the unknown. It’s just the powerful value of education again!
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