Many people - whether it's a minority of society or not - seemingly all around the world, fear difference, fear what they don't yet understand, and therefore seek to keep strangers at bay and out of their patch of land/country/pub. It appears to be a human response, and perhaps it’s part of what is termed ‘the human condition’ - regardless of the ‘why’, it’s there, and we see it and hear about it every day. This response - often couched in racist language or even just in expressions of worry about what’s happening to the world and how things are changing (and how life isn’t what it used to be in the ‘good’ old days, when we only bitched about everything except immigrants) - overlooks an option which is undeniably available yet somehow taboo.
It's often said that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is a sign of madness. It's a bastardization of an actual quote, but I'll take it, mess about with it and use it for my own purposes her (it is, after all, my own website!). I'd say instead that living a life doing the same things over and over again and expecting to stay happy while the world changes around you is a sign of stupidity.
The world changes, to varying degrees depending on where you are, every day - indeed every minute. people who decide that the world should stay the same in order to keep them happy, are missing the point - the point being that the universe carries on doing whatever it wants whether we like it or not. While it may seem like a fundamental 'right' that we can expect to live our lives untouched by world events or by the appearance of people that we have never seen before and of whom we are suspicious because their skin colour doesn't match our own or because their customs and culture challenge our own personal beliefs, no such 'right' exists, anywhere. the notion that 'we' are entitled to have our world stop changing when it reaches the exact state that we consider to be perfect, is pure nonsense. And yet it is clearly an expectation that many people have.
Also, when the world around 'us' ceases to be what makes us happy, 'we' then begin to devote more and more energy towards trying to change our world - trying to move that mountain - despite having no chance of being successful. We bitch we moan, we complain (and I think we are allowed to do so about a great many things, otherwise I'd have to delete this website immediately!), but when we start to expect the world to change - when we treat changing the world to our expectations as our entitlement - we've lost the plot. When we want to be surrounded only by familiar things, we've lost sight of what life is really like - or at least, what it's like when we're really living.
That other taboo option, of course, is to do something different. Make a change. Go somewhere or do something that makes you happier than you were. Embrace the truth about life; that change is inevitable, and take control of your own happiness. Doing so would, I submit, have a much, much greater chance of success than sitting in an armchair shouting at the newspaper, television or internet.
I'm an immigrant. I made an enormous change in my life in order to do something different and, I thought, improve the chances of happiness for my children. I also gave up a secure career to take that chance. In doing so, I lost nothing of who I am, of my core values (which have evolved as a direct result of what I have done) or of my enjoyment of life. In fact, after an initial period of adjustment, my life just got better. It turns out that the decision to change was a good one. In truth, I've rarely found that change is anything other than positive.
With an insight into my country of birth and the country that I now call home, I find it hard to understand the mentality which makes it OK to sit at home surrounded by the same stuff, spouting the same old thoughts and ideas, and refusing to budge an inch on any subject. I don't understand why difference is so threatening, unless, of course, change of any kind is threatening. Being frightened of change is not dissimilar to being in prison. Much as I shudder at the thought of looking back on a life and only being able to say "Well I worked at XYZ Ltd. for forty five years...", I also shudder at the idea of never having changed my mind, of never having respected a different point of view, or of being permanently afraid of change and difference.
Of course, when I'm old and I have a favourite armchair which conforms exactly to the shape of my extensive and saggy buttocks, I suspect I'll sit on my porch and bemoan the state of the world and how things used to be - but by then, I'll have lived a life of variety, of taking chances, and of accepting difference. I think I'll have earned the room for myself to be a whining old bastard. As I shoot the heads off the invading Zombie hoards, I will know that I've lived a little, that I've had my eyes open throughout, and that the folks who never look around them are the ones that end up being caught by slow-moving monsters, and having their brains eaten...
...and with that bloodthirsty metaphor, I shall bid you adieu for today.