The culture of fear is more relevant and present than ever. All around us the fear of uncertainty is being mass marketed by opportunists seeking to grip and lead us by a leash. These opportunists come from all ranges of the power and influence spectrum- the media, large corporations, politicians.
Every culture centres around a few core values. Western culture centres around democracy, globalization and mostly Christianity. Chinese culture is built on Confucianism, respect for elders and unique traditions. The culture of fear is stabilized by ignorance. It has anchored itself in the murky waters of our society and has made itself the core behind atrocious acts of hate, harm and bigotry.
We all have preconceived notions of certain people, ideas and customs. Our tendency to hold stereotypical views and biased opinions are often pointed out. We are very aware that our different cultures and upbringing yields different levels of acceptance for other’s customs. However, this awareness has divided society, countries and cultures even more.
The puppeteers behind the culture of fear understand that humans will inevitably step back and analyze the division among people. Therefore, by providing an answer we will stop seeking for a solution for cultural, political and social division. The notion that stereotypes are creating a barrier between an understanding of two people from different cultures gives humans the illusion that we have already identified the problem.
But the problem is much deeper than simply being stereotypical. If the problem was this superficial antagonism between countries, genders and social classes would not be so deeply rooted. The puppeteers are marketing off society’s ignorance towards ethnocentrism- the tendency to judge beliefs and behaviours from your own perspective. Even though the egotism behind ethnocentrism sounds synonymous to stereotyping, the two hold a slight difference that makes all the difference.
Stereotyping is basing your perspective about an entire, culture, idea or race on one individual while ethnocentrism is the encompassing tendency to use your perspective as a point of reference for everything and anything. Ethnocentrism is intellectually intolerable because when everyone in society thinks their views are right, society will inevitably clash. Ethnocentrism is the overarching perspective governing our consciousness. Ethnocentrism is placing ourselves on a pedestal and acknowledging from our pedestal that we are being stereotypical. But why does such identification matter if we are making it from our pedestal of judgement and intolerance?
We cannot solve a technical issue without correctly identifying which part of the machine is broken. By trying to eradicate and break stereotypes, we are just creating even more stereotypes. For example, women trying to break gender norms have now been labelled as the stereotypical ‘feminists’ with negative connotations. Society is blindly fixing random parts of the machine before correctly identifying which part needs fixing. The opportunist behind the culture of fear is depending on our ignorance. With raging political conflicts and social division around the world, the ever present tendency of ethnocentrism needs to be blatantly pointed out before any amends can be enacted.