Our Political Climate and its Negative Effects

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Our Political Climate and its Negative Effects

Drew Ryan, Contributor

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In recent years it seems that a “thought-to-be dormant” epidemic of crime and hate towards certain groups has awakened. The disease seems to have revived itself because of our current political environment. It’s an environment in which one feels superior over another, and the fear of difference has divided us. Now what is our political environment?  Some might say that it is a time of dictatorship and a pyramid of one above another. Others might say it is a time when one can express their own mind. I say our epidemic of crime and hate has just been revived and had not lain dormant but has now become more mainstream.

I believe that our political environment is a metaphor for what has divided us for so long: Xenophobia. Xenophobia is defined by Merriam-Webster as fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign. A textbook example is the idea of an alien invasion. Movies like Alien and Independence Day portray creatures from a foreign place as evil and damned. We are taught to fear and hate the unknown. When we see the flying saucer land in the cornfield, our first instinct is to be wary and afraid of the strange glowing architecture of its exterior. When that strange and slimy creature emerges from it, we fear and dread what may approach. Why isn’t our first reaction the opposite? Is it because it is better to kill than be killed? Is it because our adrenaline is racing so fast that we aren’t being rational? These reasons are possible, but I believe that it’s because we have been taught for generations to be afraid of what we don’t know. This does not mean that it is bad to be cautious but is it really right to destroy before we determine? How are these movies any different from the fear and hate we show towards ones who don’t look like ourselves? And I know what you are thinking, it’s just a movie. But I don’t believe that is true. The idea for the movie had to stem something, right?  A prime example is our history.

Throughout history our Xenophobia has stuck out like a sore thumb. From American Colonists slaughtering and butchering Native Americans to the annihilation of the Aztec people, the idea of hating or fearing someone or something different is not new. Some have even tried to change the “strange and foreign” into something they recognize, forcefully converting one to another’s religion and making one learn a new language are prime examples of this.

Humans today still try to change the “strange.” Take a house for example, it sits on the end of a cul de sac, vacant and a husk of ones built there before, until a family moves in. They paint the walls, the kids pick and decorate their rooms, and the kitchen gets redone. But when the family first walked into the house, they felt a little uncomfortable, just a little prick going down their spine. When they feel this, they instantly start to plan their version of the house, to make it comfortable and ordinary. Without even a thought, they have changed the strange.

Though the idea of Xenophobia may not have stemmed from differing political climates, I do believe that it strengthens the grip of fear. The people we look up to on both sides of our  political aisle are guilty of this.

 

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