Fear of those who are different

I’m going to get on a soap box for this entry and propose a theory about why people are scared of those who are different from them by offering an example:

A character in a movie is eating ice cream, and you can easily picture yourself eating that ice cream.

I think people naturally place themselves in the main character’s shoes and go from there when watching a film or TV series or reading a book. We are all naturally inclined, I think, to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. It’s what can make horror films so unsettling or adventure films so much fun – we see ourselves doing that.

I think that therein lies the problem, because that then translates out to the real world. We see those around us, and we picture ourselves acting how they are. If it’s something we just can’t picture ourselves doing, we lash out at the person doing it in the hopes of making them stop, as if we’re yelling at our own selves to stop.

Of course, there are those who are able to understand we are not those around us. These are probably also people who can watch a horror movie and laugh it off because they can remind themselves it’s not real and isn’t actually happening to them.

But there seems to always be those who are unable to seperate themselves from those around them, and so when they see someone acting differently, they protest in fear and in anger at being afraid. To such people, I can only ask that they take a moment and try to understand the source of their fear. What are they really afraid of? Do they not see how forcing others to conform to their ideals is part of that fear they feel at the idea they might have to change for others?

I believe people who are different want one human right: To feel they can safely and freely express themselves in society. Why can we not readily support that?

I think the world would be supremely boring if we were all made to conform to one person’s ideas of what a person should be, and so many would only needlessly suffer. What a tragic life to live in fear simply because of who you are.

Acceptance is the ability to understand everyone around us is not us and that it is just fine that they have different ways of thinking and different ways of living. I accept anyone who is different from me as long as they’re not hurting anyone.

So here I stand on my little soap box, asking for a society that can be more accepting of those who are different from them.