Xenophobia- the problem of the new age

Mihaela Grosu

The age of xenophobia  is the same as the age of mankind. The objects of xenophobia vary from period to period, from country to country, but its psychological mechanism – the alternative “we – they” – is universal, and it seems that it continues to work on prehistoric primitive patterns.

Modern human society is difficultly and dramatically coming to the obvious conclusion that all human races and nations are made up of the same species. This is what makes us optimistic about the possibility of overcoming xenophobia.

Often, xenophobia is transformed into socially dangerous psychological phenomenon: when the differences between people begin to be perceived as a problem, when people are afraid of these differences – It is perceived as a threat to our positive identity and way of life. Fear generates hostility, which can turn into hate. And then, the psychological mechanism of “we – they” is getting activated and determines the formation of negative stereotypes and different forms of discrimination.

The xenophobia awareness as a socially dangerous phenomenon has defined its place among the most important problems of the modern world. International non-governmental organizations are trying to attract the attention of scientists and community to the problem of the growth of xenophobic actions. One of the powerful instruments directly affecting the subject, is the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, adopted in 2001 in Durban (South Africa) at the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. This paper examines xenophobia in different manifestations as one of the main sources of contemporary racism and a form of discrimination. The Declaration states that, despite the efforts of the community, the principal objectives of the three decades of struggle against racism and racial discrimination have not been attained, and countless people still remain victims of various forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance.

Having the function of isolation, xenophobia impedes the development of a constructive intercultural dialogue and slows the progress of mankind. Its manifestations are made through violence, conflict, confrontation and  terrorism. Not only the ruthless acts of terrorism (New York, Paris, Jerusalem, Moscow) should disturb us, but also the war, which, unfortunately, has not decreased in the modern world. Since 1980, and in the new millennium have been or still are wars in nearly 30 countries around the world. Especially worrying is that over 90% of the victims in these wars are civil people.

Why can’t we, with all the forms of liberalism and freedom of choice, be capable of eradicating xenophobia? How much time should we wait in order to be capable of accepting people without taking into consideration their nation and beliefs?!

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