Xenophobia is defined as “an unreasonable Fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange. It comes from the Greek words ξένος (xenos), meaning “stranger,” “foreigner,” and φόβος (phobos), meaning “fear.”
Ruth: Life means adventure, change, things that not everybody has the courage to face and accept. When one sees someone who is unfamiliar, a subconscious fear springs up: “why dare he take two steps forward and run risks where nobody knows him? I wonder if he wants to infiltrate his ideas and destroy the world that we have built with so much toil?”
D.H.: For a few months in 2001 I had an Arab student living in my home here in Boston. Everyone admired his kindness, and on many an evening we would gather in a local bar to chat about the customs of his country. Right after the attacks of the 11th September, the very same people who had laughed the day before at his stories began to hate him.
Dasha: Xenophobia isn’t just the fear of strangers, it’s being afraid of what happens between different generations. Most people are afraid of today, they prefer to live in the past. My country (Russia) is an excellent example of this.
Aspen: Every child, if he is raised with the necessary amount of strictness and freedom, could collaborate infinitely to make this planet a better place to live. But one of the first things we learn is “not to talk to strangers”.
Warrior of Running Water: Here in Denmark we have a festival that lasts about a week and attracts 100,000 strangers to celebrate life, share common interests and learn from the differences. People embrace for no reason except being on the same path, they sing and get drunk together. When the festival is over, a strange atmosphere takes over the town again, and strangers are once more seen as a threat.
Neel P.: We have to trust in love. We have to remember what we were told: “love your neighbor as yourself”. If we trust in love, we don’t need to fear anything any more, but the truth is that we never trust enough…
Radek: People in my country (Poland) lived through the tyranny of Hitler and the Soviet oppression, and they don’t seem to have learned anything. It terrifies me to see people who experienced the horrors of Nazism behaving the same way today, avoiding everything that is unknown or different. The worst of it all is that they use religion to justify their acts, arguing that all those who aren’t Christians should be banished from society. This blind faith is worse than having no faith at all.