Finally I have finished the A2Z April Word Challenge that was to end on April 30. A month + past the deadline is not too bad, some would say, and I will agree. You can read what others said about words from the letters of the alphabet at a-to-zchallenge.com.
X for Xenophobia
Admittedly my vocabulary is not classified as abundant, and I don’t race around adding words willy-nilly to my limited supply of verbiage. However, in today’s world, new words seem to find their way to my mouth’s attention more often than just a few years ago.
One of those surprise additions is Xenophobia, meaning chauvinism, racism, nationalism, prejudice, racial intolerance and dislike of foreigners. The word has been around for many moons, but it had not crept into my consciousness until the last Presidential campaign.
Suddenly it became a household word, at least to a segment of my friends. Xenophobia was surrounding me, penetrating my pores, shaking my belief in our country, and questioning the people I love and respect. I seemed to be drowning in the negative rhetoric, awakened to the reality that many in the United States really dislike diversity, and are intolerant of those who are seeking refuge in our land of freedom.
These foreigners hope to find equality, work hard and make a place for themselves and their families in this remarkable country. These black, brown, white folks are escaping danger and often death to live in today’s ‘promised land’.
Sadly, what awaits them is not hospitality, but hostility: loud, dangerous, vulgar, and ugly condemnation.
Of course this did not happen suddenly. The seeds of disrespect, fear, and distrust have lived underground fermenting, festering, and building over time. When the soil was ripe with verbal fertilization the explosion happened, spewing hatred across the globe. It has been like a frustrated child, not allowed to have things her/his way, afraid any change will threaten the status quo, perhaps catapulting established social mores and power structures aside.
What if white men are no longer in the majority? What if women no longer depend on men for their economic security? What if women out number men as CEOs of companies or on the floors of governments? What if we never knew if a child is a male or female, but just an infant or toddler or teenager or adult with individual tastes not tied to gender? What if everyone were color blind, not able to see the tone or texture or hue of our neighbor’s skin?
How would our world change if any one of those things happened? How threatening are these ideas to each of us? Would we be free of prejudice and embrace equality if differences in color, race, gender, religion, didn’t separate us?
This experiment in democracy we are attempting to perfect calls for risk taking, courage, and common sense. We must be willing to hold tight to our core values of inclusion and love for others, peace, understanding, equality and acceptance of all, the rule of laws, and the belief that we each have a special role to play in this world.
Maybe Xenophobia would be wiped from our dictionaries. Wouldn’t that be nice?