Tuesday, July 20, 2021 10:22 AM
Intolerance and xenophobia are learned behaviours. They are a result of the environment in which we are raised and the language, beliefs and actions that occur around us. We take on these same beliefs as part of the inculcation of being raised by the "village" we belong to. From this we learn what is right and what is wrong and what is good and what is evil. We learn what gives us an advantage or what does not in terms of our own behaviours as well. The exposures are not just from our parents or relatives, but through the schools, churches and other institutions and the society at large that we "belong" to. From the books and magazines we read, to the movies we watch, to the media (social and mainstream) we consume it all affects what we believe and how we behave. The good news is that learned behaviour and attitudes can be changed; although often more difficult as we get older. The bad news is that it takes time. The attitudes and beliefs that a society holds spans several generations at a time (often 3 - 4) and so it takes time for these attitudes and behaviours to change even if everyone agreed to do so. Part of the problem is not everyone is in agreement to do so and there isn't general agreement as to what it should be changed to. Generally, people believe that more tolerance is necessary, but most believe that others must change to be more tolerant, and not themselves. Fortunately, Mahatma Gandhi provides guidance for us all at this crossroads, "Be the change that you wish to see in the world," or become the change you wish to see in others.