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Afraid of the Unfamiliar

Afraid of the Unfamiliar

by Mimi Thomas

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My morning routine is predictable; I hit the snooze button a couple of times, make breakfast with a large cup of coffee, and get on Yahoo to check the news and buzz around the world. I’m a junkie for knowing what the latest current events are, especially with my ever-continuous curiosity of the world. 

On December 2nd, 2015, I woke up to hearing about a shooting in San Bernadino, California. I rolled my eyes and huffed. “Not again,” I said to myself. I clicked on the article to find out the details that were known at the time. The news disclosed the fact that the shooting took place at a facility that specializes in developmental disorders. I was immediately horrified at the situation and the fact that there was ANOTHER shooting here in the United States.  

As more information was disclosed, it was learned that the couple that carried out the shootings was of the Islamic faith, and was steared down the ISIS/ISIL path. My heart dropped once again. I had this gut feeling that uninformed citizens, politicians, and other media outlets would try to portray those of the Muslim faith as evil and barbaric. Over the course of the next week, my gut feeling was proven correct. I kept seeing hatred on my Facebook feed, and how politicians were trying to propose bans of those who are of the Islamic faith. I felt so ashamed of America, and I tried to to make sense of their thoughts and opinions.

I finally figured out the reasoning of all the hatred and hostility towards the Islamic faith:

We’re all afraid of what is unfamiliar.

Think about it. How did you feel when you started college in an unfamiliar environment? How did you feel when you when on a date with someone new? How did you feel when you started your new job? Your answer to all of these questions is probably a combination of nervousness and uneasiness. After all these shootings in America, this uneasiness and nervousness translates to hatred. Hatred disguises the nervousness and uneasiness from within, people in this situation want hatred to be dominant because they don’t want people to know that they feel uncomfortable and don’t have the knowledge to properly assess the situation.  

What most don’t realize is that there are extremists in every belief and organization. For example, Dylann Roof and the Charleston, SC shootings in June 2015. Dylann claimed himself as a Christian, yet killed several brothers and sisters of his faith. One could claim that all Christians do is kill people and are horrible people after seeing that event. Maybe that’s an extreme conclusion, but one could easily think that if they weren’t of the Christian faith. Almost all Christians were outraged of this horrendous crime, and did what they could to show what they truly stand for.

Think about the KKK. They showed hatred and treated their fellow brothers and sisters inhumanely, simply because the color of their skin was different than theirs. Think about Westboro Baptist Church. Those people are ALL extremists. How would you feel if someone else judged you because of the extremists of the faith or group you belong to, especially if they didn’t know anything about your faith or group? They’re afraid of what is unfamiliar to them, which is knowledge of your faith and group. They don’t know the genuine sides, or the goodness of the people. They only know you by the extremists.  

It’s human nature to be afraid of what is unfamiliar to us. However, one must accept that it is human nature, but should realize that they should not be afraid. Knowledge is the light of life, and is more powerful than one would ever expect.



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