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WE FEAR WHAT WE DON’T UNDERSTAND

Shark week has become a sensation. Each year people get excited to see shows, primarily focused on Great Whites’ and the fear that their myth had previously had on us all. Jaws was a two hour movie in which the killer shark did not actually appear onscreen for over eighty minutes. Yet, just the idea of the unknown was enough to create fear in millions about the species.

While most of us may have initially tuned in to shark week because of the fearsome reputation of the Great White, as years have passed, we have learned more and more that, while deadly, the animal isn’t a mindless killer that preys on humans. In fact what we understand is that in part because of that fear, humans kill nearly 6 million sharks a year compared to on average 8 fatalities related to shark attacks to humans yearly worldwide. A once unanimously feared animal is now known, loved, admired and respected. As we gain more knowledge of the species we have come to understand they need our help for their continued conservation and existence.

Human nature is like that. We try to hurt or destroy whatever it is we do not understand or fear. Our ignorance of other races and cultures have contributed to our historical ease in enslaving or killing those that we just did not understand or have knowledge of.  Today, for most, Muslim men represent the face of terrorism. However, there are over 1.5 Billion Muslims in the world… The percentage that could be considered terrorists or have jihadists beliefs are almost infinitesimal to the actual Muslim population, yet so many around the world hate Muslims in large part based on fear and that fear is largely based on lack of knowledge, ignorance and misinformation.

POC in the United States can well empathize with the issues of persecution and fear that so many Muslims are experiencing. America’s history is filled with countless examples of fear manifesting itself into hate and discrimination toward any new immigrant groups that descended upon America in mass. The United States is not exactly a melting pot, but it is a mixture of dozens of races, ethnicities, cultures and religions. Part of the reason that we haven’t melded cohesively is that instead of expending the energy to learn of each other’s cultures and differences, which would probably show our greater similarities, we instead focus on our fear of the unknown and what we simply do not understand. We let that irrational and ignorant take control our actions and emotions, when that same energy can be expended on learning more about each other. If we can gain empathy, respect and admiration for sharks, that we once feared, how hard can it be to learn about the cultures of your neighbors?

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#fear, #compassion, #empathy, #race, #sharkweek, #humanity, #understanding, #knowledge, #POC, #Muslims, #PeopleofColor, #ignorance

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