We’re afraid of the unknown, the unfamiliar.
That’s normal, actually. Avoiding or being suspicious of what is new or different is a basic survival tool that’s programmed into our reptilian brain, right along with breathing and reproduction.
Well ok, breathing is even deeper than that, being an autonomic (involuntary) action, but a certain uneasiness with regard to things we don’t understand or haven’t previously experienced is as natural as breathing, anyway.
But it can be taken too far. At the extreme, we have something called xenophobia, which is defined as “…fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign”. At its worst it becomes Racism, and it’s worth noting – in light of the current American political scene – that an incremental increase in the level of xenophobia in a culture or individual often goes un-noticed. We become accustomed to a higher level of fear over time, and then a higher level, and then higher still…
But what does all this have to dokeeh cruising, my nominal topic? Well, cruising involves travel from place to place, often from a place you know to a place that is – to you – foreign. A place like Hoboken, New Jersey or Lewes, Delaware, say. A place where you don’t know anyone and they talk funny and the food is different…
So it’s easy to feel uneasy about the place you’ve landed, the people you meet and the sounds and sights and smells that are unfamiliar. The key, of course, is an open mind: a willingness to believe – and sometimes consciously remind yourself – that by and large folks really are just folks, no better and no worse than you yourself.
It’s not always easy. That walk down a poorly lighted dirt road after dark is going to challenge your reptile brain, and the sound of footsteps behind will more than likely send it into survival mode. And it’s true that not everyone you meet is friendly, and there’s even a very remote chance that you might meet someone who actively wishes you ill. It happens.
But it doesn’t happen often, and the chances are extremely good that it’s not going to happen to you. So why choose to live in fear? At the risk of going all new-agy and stuff, wouldn’t you rather live in love? Wouldn’t you rather believe that everyone you meet is potentially your new best friend?
Seems to me that beats hell out of building walls – mental or physical – to keep all of “them” out.