How does fear of difference feed into conflict?  

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

This is evolution, I think, a facet of evolution that I believe we can and should transcend.  Those people who took note of differences in others and fought against them had an evolutionary advantage over those who did not.  We can see how handy this must have been in the early days of human development, when anyone who was not in your tribe was likely to be your enemy. As time went on, I think we also evolved in ways that favored cooperation and that led to city states, nations, trade agreements, and a more diverse gene pool.  But these are two warring sides within each of us, to some degree, and as the first response notes, those warring sides are playing themselves out politically as we speak, with one side focusing on "the other," and the other side trying to focus on common ground.  Today, we live in a world in which demonizing the other is unlikely to be an evolutionary advantage, since weapons of mass destruction are far too handy, and such fear-mongering could so easily lead to the end of humankind.  We clearly have a long way to go in terms of evolution.  

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The fear of something different or the difference between two things often brings conflict.  When a person has no knowledge of something which is different than himself or herself, the first reaction is usually fear.  Fear builds on itself so that unless something or someone explains the differences in a way the person can understand AND relate to, the fear remains. When something is unknown or feared, conflict raises its head.  At first it is small conflict perhaps among students at school.  That can lead to conflict among parents, the community and then to law enforcement which can grow much too widespread.  Soon, it touches far too many people. Too much of the conflict in this country is due to fear, and too many of the candidates for president are preying on the fears of the populace about immigrants, religions, etc. 

For example, in my family alone, we have a transgendered female, one gay male, three Muslims, two Buddhists, several Catholics, three blacks, two Hispanics, two South American "sons" along with their wives and children,  several diabetics, two celiac disease, one cell mast disease, one autistic, one adopted child, etc.   As you can see, the difference in my family is sort of a microcosm of the world.  Fear is not really part of our lives in the same way that others fear people of color, those who speak another language, those from other countries or those of different religions or sexual orientation.  People must learn to talk to each other over their fear and learn what the other person is like.  We have to get over the fear of the unknown.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial