We know that xenophobia refers to fear of the other, fear of the foreigner. Here in South Africa where I live, xenophobic attacks occur. Sometimes small scale, sometimes large scale. Irrespective of race, colour or creed, we are shocked to see such violence perpetrated on other human beings, sharing the same living space.

What is it that is instrumental in our own people here in South Africa burning down the Somali’s shop and livelihood, the Zimbabwean doctor’s rooms.

I wondered about xenophobia, fear of the other, fear of the foreigner, the stranger amidst us. Such irrational and dehumanising acts of violence against those who have caused no harm and who provide a service to the community.

What is it that causes inter alia The Spanish Inquisition, the Holocaust, Rwanda, Cambodia.

Could we be xenophobic toward ourselves using the above definition? Could we take this from the macro to the micro level? It’s a bit of a leap, but why not?

On the personal micro level, we too have that shadow lurking within who we do not want to acknowledge. That shadow that belongs to us and is as real as the shadow we see on the ground when the sun is shining. And even when it’s not. That repressed inner other to which we pay scant attention. Those parts of ourselves that we don’t want to own and that we project out onto the other. And if not actually onto the other, then in some form of self destruction towards our own selves as in e.g. eating disorders, drugs, alcoholism in our attempts to fill an empty space.

Could we bring our own mostly unconscious shadow – ‘the thing a person has no wish to be’ *- out in to the open, without doing harm to another? Can the shadow live side by side with our waking lives, in a peaceful way? Can what we perceive to be the demon within be our daemon if we befriend it and use it’s endless, renewal resource as we come to know ourselves better? Can the simple art of listening for the inner call, change our habituated pattern of perception? Can we break the pattern of fearing the stranger within?

As our perceptions change, so too does our reality. Gold can be extracted from the dark.

Can we play our small part in preventing xenophobia? 

 This is a quote by Albert Schweitzer, medical missionary who established a medical facility in a jungle village Lambarene, Gabon. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952.

‘You know of the disease in Central Africa called sleeping sickness. There also exists a sleeping sickness of the soul. Its most dangerous aspect is that one is unaware of its coming. That is why you have to be careful. As soon as you notice the slightest sign of indifference, the moment you become aware of the loss of a certain seriousness, of longing, of enthusiasm and zest, take it as a warning. You should realise that your soul suffers if you live superficially’.

Today is “Freedom Day” here in South Africa, the day Mr. Nelson Mandela was elected in our first democratically held elections, in 1994.

Song below is The Kiffness ‘Never Again’ and uses voice samples of Mr. Mandela in this pumping vibrant piece of music, made by my son David Scott in honour of Mr. Mandela.

 * C.G. Jung

21 Comments on X: Xenophobia

  1. Hi,
    First, let me say that I really enjoyed the tune connected with this article. Never Again–refreshing, uplifting, and full of life, the tune had me wanting to get up and dance as I sang along Never Again. The horn section embodied a mellowness that was not only pleasing to the hear but balm for my soul. So, please tell your son, I enjoyed it and will look for it on iTunes.

    Second, your article xenophobia puts every human being before the question of learning to deal with the darkness or the demon within. If we don’t we will destroy ourselves or alienate ourselves from each other.

    Thank you my dear. I enjoyed reading this.


    • Thank you so much Patricia for commenting – and so great that you enjoyed the tune. That was Davey on the trumpet and he mixed the music. I will let him know.

      O to only know that so much more is possible! Deal with one’s own darkness before projecting onto ‘the other’ then assuredly, we can be in a position to love one’s neighbour, cause no harm –

      Shalom Patricia and thank you again,


  2. I love the track, I’m a huge electro fan, well done talented son… I find it amazing how many people want to avoid even acknowledging their shadow self, pretending they are nice, generous, caring, deserving all the time, and when their aggression is unleashed it’s always somebody else’s fault, something they don’t want to understand, something they fear, something that makes them feel inferior. Even peaceful nations like Australia are riddled with xenophobia, the danish word for immigrants is ‘invandre’ looks and sounds like invader… I can feel a bunch of swears bubbling up inside of me just thinking about it… I think I need to just preach xenophillia instead… Imagine all the people… 🙂 Great piece Susan

    • So pleased you liked the track Ida! I will let Davey know.

      Thank you so much for your comment – I really appreciate this.

      That word ‘invandre’ sounds as it feels in my belly. Xenophilia is a new one for me but I just checked it out, meaning affection. Lovely .. and the reminder of John Lennon’s ‘…imagine all the people, living for today …all the people living life in peace … imagine all the people sharing the world .. and the world will live as one’

  3. Nice post Susan. I wish we could all just get along. We probably need to take care of the stranger within so we can become more tolerant of others. I enjoyed listening to the song by your son.

  4. Yes, I agree that you present, as always, another thought provoking post. But I wonder if people are afraid of other cultures or lives or are some of us so rigid in our ways and thinking that we do not allow for another way of life? Do some of our fundamental ways not allow us to work side by side with a person or culture different from ourselves? Here is were your “WHY” fits in. Why are we afraid to learn from another? Thank you!

    • Thanks Gwynn so much for your response. I think both of your questions almost have the answers in them, and the follow on question is WHY are we afraid to learn from each other? WHY indeed? Are we so conditioned to fear the other? Or is it something else? Our own shadow? Or a bit of both – and more besides?

      Will you let me know when you know?

  5. Glad the music had you rocking Fran and your son too! Thank you for commenting and good luck with the writing! Can’t wait to get back to normal schedule!

  6. Just the perfect touch for Freedom Day. Thoughtful and thought provoking. (I’ve just been rocking out to your son’s music. My son is in to sampling too). Now, after reading your post I must try and get back to my writing – a big ask!
    Happy Freedom Day, Susan x

  7. How powerful to write this on your Freedom day. How hard it is to be free of the shadow, your referred to, which is both our enemy and friend. You are so right in saying xenophobia depends on how much work we are willing to put into knowing about it from within.

  8. That’s what we do, isn’t it? We take aim at the things we don’t like in ourselves and try to eliminate it by going after others. But once we recognize this, it can stop. (Too bad that the ones who need that lesson the most are the ones who don’t get it.)

  9. Another though provoking post on a crucial part of human nature. The key, as you mentioned, is our perception. We fear what we don’t understand. If we make an effort to truly “know” those who are different, the fear will dissolve and conflict fade. Happy Freedom Day! Love that song, btw:)

  10. Well written article, Susan. Dangerous, what can take hold in our souls… fear of other …and with it, possibly hate. We have that in the US, too.
    Have a great Freedom Day. This was a most interesting read.

    • Thanks so much Sylvia. So right, it can take hold without our even being aware of it.

      Hope all going well over the weekend!

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