The fear of “the others”

It’s a natural human reaction to be afraid of strangers making us keep them at a distance at first, until we feel they won’t do us any harm. But often, even after some time, they’re still kept there without ever giving them the chance to show, not only they don’t mean any harm, but also what their qualities are.

In the context of the current “housing crisis” in New Zealand, meaning that many people “cannot afford to rent, let alone buy” a house or even a flat, stated by http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11627203, this so-called “stranger anxiety” has led some people to come to the conclusion that the increasing number of immigrants are to be blamed for the crisis, according to http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11582356. It is believed that by reducing the number of immigrants the housing crisis would be solved.

I think that, first of all, it’s not really helpful, for all the involved, to put the blame on a single cause or group of people. Rather, there are more factors which have to be considered in order to see what the cause for the problem is, and thus, what the solution could be. Everyone should try to take responsibility and see what they can do themselves to cope with the situation.

Secondly, moving beyond stranger anxiety, rather the chances immigrants bring to a country should be taken into account:

First off, immigrants are often highly-qualified and can bring economic benefits to the country they move to. They help to rebuild Christchurch, work as IT experts, or in the health section, stated by http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11575308.

Secondly, it will enrich the country in its cultural diversity even more, since New Zealand has always been a country of immigrants. Being faced with immigrants, people have to work on their cultural competence, which is according to http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11575308 “the ability to work with and relate to people” with a different cultural background. This competence, which has to be enhanced regularly, broadens their horizon and helps them to develop in terms of their personality. As they get to know people who have moved there, friendships or even relationships can develop, and they form a personal connection to another culture.

Thirdly, one day each of us could come into the position of having to leave our home country, and then we would also be grateful if a country met us — not with stranger anxiety, but with openness.

Being open, we’ll discover that “the others” is not a homogeneous group you have to fear, but a group of individuals each with his or her own reasons for coming there and hopes to be fulfilled.