We in America have been raised with an unfounded fear of the “other.” In our parents’ generation, it was communism and the Soviet Union, in ours it is terrorism.
However, I contest this idea with the counterpoint that people are people, no matter where they are from, no matter what race, religion or social class. We are all human beings.
You can choose to believe otherwise, that somehow the country we are born in changes our basic wants and desires.
You can choose to believe every Middle Eastern person spends their day fantasizing about bombing the United States, but you would be wrong.
I have had the extreme fortune of being able to travel the world more than most in my short 19 years, and in doing so I learned that in the world other human beings are the same. No, I do not mean everyone thinks the same; of course I recognize differing viewpoints.
My point is that in every society you will find the same people. There are the conservatives, the liberals, the philosophers, the lovers, the haters, the believers, the atheists and all the rest. This means there is no “us” and “them,” there is only an “us.” We are humanity as a whole.
To defend my point, I will go back to my time in India, where I spent eight months of my gap year. I expected that with such a different culture, especially an eastern culture, I would not fit in at all.
Thankfully, this expectation was ignorant. Within a week, I had made a friend who I got along with as well as I do with my American friends.
This is because our daily worries are the same. We both thought deeply about relationships (both with friends and lovers), we thought about money and how to spend what we had, we thought about where to go to hang out and talk.
Yes, the culture is very different — in so many ways I cannot begin to describe them — but that does not make them “others.”
We tend to look at the bad in humanity rather than preaching that everyone is good.
The belief we have been taught is that Middle Easterners are terrorists, and yet there have been more terrorist attacks in America perpetrated by white men than Arabs. This shows very clearly that terrorism is not confined to one race, religion or country. Any human being has the potential to be a terrorist.
So as to not rustle too many feathers discussing the subject of terrorism, I will reiterate: if you choose to believe the “us versus them” mentality you have been taught, you are allowed. I cannot stop you, though I would like to. I will instead challenge you to speak to people who are different from you and see if they really are so different after all. To quote a song by AJJ, “No More Tears,” “We’re all one big band all across this land and we should sing in tune. Let’s grow the balls to break the walls, we’ve got to do it soon.”