Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said “We have nothing to fear but fear itself” and it has now become a common saying.
You’ll hear it in roller coaster lines, at haunted houses, the dentist’s office, just about anywhere. But you’d think, with the commonality of fear of just about anything, we’d be less afraid of our fellow students.
“We have nothing to fear but fear of others” is, I think, a more appropriate adage for students to think on. We live in an age of easily available information. And yet there are still multitudinous misconceptions about different people we hold.
Think about the years-long battle going on in the media about those of Middle-Eastern origin. Some people are all for checking them extra thoroughly at airline security. But by generalizing our fear of terrorism to a fear of an entire people causes hurt and more fear. It seems obvious, but most people aren’t terrorists (duh, right?).
So why are we afraid that everyone in this entire population could be out to get us?
Because we don’t understand our differences. With a little work at understanding each others’ cultures, we can eliminate the racial hatred that is still almost omnipresent in the U.S.
Another group of people who are commonly feared are those with mental illnesses. I know, I write about this too much. But it shocks me how many misconceptions there are.
For example, a friend of mine had to be hospitalized twice this year for her Bipolar I disorder. She used the students with disabilities office to make sure she could still succeed in her classes. But when she went job hunting a few months later, most employers were extremely wary of her.
“We just can’t rely on your performance. You had to leave your other job because of this, didn’t you?”
It’s true- she quit her last job to take time to get her illness under control, but this is discrimination.
It’s wrong to discriminate, and it’s all based in fear. People with mental illnesses don’t act out all the time, most the time, often not at all. They have a disease, just like your diabetic grandfather has a disease.
Fear-based discrimination is part of almost everyone. It’s a part of our culture and everyone else’s. Nobody is perfectly accepting; we all have room to improve.
So do some research. Figure out why you’re uncomfortable around certain people and overcome your prejudices. There’s nothing to fear but fear itself, and we as a nation should be fearful of the repercussions of fearing each other.