I’ve been seeing a lot of hate speech toward China lately. I hate that it’s 2020 and we still have to constantly combat racism. In another post, I discussed my conflicting views of mission work and how they seem to me to be nothing more than modern-day colonialism. This is a follow-up of that idea. It’s a reminder that we are products of our environment. Everything about us was largely determined by our geographical birth place. And the same is true for how we perceive and respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.
As I watch certain people demonize and cast blame on China for this pandemic, I think it’s important to remember that the only difference between us and them is geography, and that a person’s place of birth does not result in superiority in any way. You, like every other person on this planet, is shaped and molded by your surroundings:
The language you speak.
The religion you follow.
The clothes you wear.
The food you eat.
The way you vote.
And your perception of this crisis.
How ridiculous is it that anyone would continue to think themselves better when our differences are nothing more than geographical. The most important thing I’ve learned from my travels abroad is That we are really not that different. Every country I go to, I make the same observation. People are just people. They want to be happy. They want to spend time with their families and enjoy their lives.
Our identities are chosen for us.
From the time we are born we are assigned a name, a citizenship, a language we’ll be brought up to speak, a religion we’ll be brought up to follow, and we’ll learn what is and is not appropriate within our own cultural experience. It’s understandable then that if someone never ventures outside of their cultural bubble, they may erroneously assume the values they were raised with are superior to all others.
Ethnocentrism is an illness.
“Ethnocentrism (noun) an evaluation of other cultures according to preconceptions originating in the standards and customs of one’s own culture.”
What drives xenophobia (the fear of foreigners)? If you spend your entire life only interacting with those who share the same cultural experience as yourself, you limit your worldview. This us versus them mindset is the result of a restricted, uneducated perception of the unknown. And the recent rise in Sinophobia is an excellent example of this.
What can we do?
Don’t tolerate hate speech. Stop the spread of ignorance. If you see it, call it out. This virus is not a “Chinese virus” and calling it that is astoundingly ignorant. When the pandemic is over and just another part of history, do you want to be remembered as the person spreading fear and hate or the one preaching tolerance and promoting education?