In light of recent events in America, and indeed around the world, two things are becoming increasingly clear. First, that the complexity of issues surrounding race, gender, religion, and individual identity as a whole, is becoming increasingly apparent within modern society. We are seeing these issues emerge in areas of social policy and debate, in educational institutions and academia, and in public perception and opinion. Second, and as a result of the above, societal discourse and discussion are more convoluted than ever before. We are both united and divided on so many issues of personal preference and choice, and in doing so continue to carve a path of destruction through common decency (and sanity).
Why is this so? It seems a great deal of this societal unrest is rooted in a timeless phenomenon: the fear of the unknown. Within the western world, it’s seen in the fear of hijab-wearing women, the fear of dark-skinned men, the fear of those who speak a different language or preach a different message. Yet here we must ask ourselves: if we fear the unknown, do we instantly trust ‘the known’? Are we so complacent as to blindly trust in the similar, the familiar, without a second thought? Or should we chase the unknown, embrace the unknown, with an open mind and an unsated curiosity for what’s awaiting us? The possibilities that a curious mind can unlock are endless.
I’m not naïve enough to think that this clichéd notion will solve all the aforementioned issues; but I do believe that a society focussed on curiosity rather than fear will always be for the best. Through engaging with the unknown, we actively break down the barriers to knowledge and understanding, granting us access to the wider world around us. Curious individuals are connected individuals – not to mention clever. For without curiosity, we remain the blind and complacent, never really learning or expanding our minds and identities. As far as I’m concerned, that’s convincing enough for me.