In these dark and seemingly intolerant times, it can all too easy to despair about the state of humanity.
I know I’ve certainly been feeling uneasy over the last few months, as the crisis in Syria worsens, the level of racial intolerance deepens, and the overall state of the world seems to be deteriorating at the speed of knots.
Factor in Donald Trump as the incoming US President, and what appears to be an increasingly anti-refugee, racist mentality attitude amongst everyday people, and it almost seems like 2016 is one of the least progressive times to be alive.
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Except, it probably isn’t.
Humanity has always had a tendency to veer towards being intolerant, impatient, protectionist and racist, and it all stems from fear.
I was reminded of this when reading up about the Chinese Massacre of 1871. Until this week, I didn’t even know there was a Chinese Massacre of 1871.
It took place on the streets of Los Angeles, after Chinese labourers had flocked to California decades earlier to help build the railroads. As one of America’s worst hate crimes, it still stands as “perhaps the least understood tragedy in California’s statehood history”, writes author Scott Zesch.
This senseless tragedy was followed by the introduction of the Chinese Exclusion Act, which Congress passed in 1882. It was a dramatic and racist move that effectively ended the influx of low-skilled Chinese labour moving Stateside.
It certainly made an impact: by the mid 1920s, the Washington Post reports that nearly all immigration from Asian nations was banned.
Back then, Americans were scared that all the Chinese people coming to their country were going to take all of their jobs.
Today, Americans are scared that all the Muslim people coming to their country are going to take their freedom.
Different fears, but the same kneejerk reaction: “Get out, we don’t want you here.” These same fears and intolerant attitudes are reflected throughout Australia, where many people share the view that we should ‘shut the doors’ to refugees.
You’d think we might have evolved just a smidge over the last century, into a more tolerant, compassionate society. But it seems that humanity has always been self-involved and intolerant. And it’s working so well for us (insert sarcasm font), so why change now?