Throughout history, humanity has dealt with one big daunting question, What do I do with the “other?” Given that the fear center of our brain (the limbic system) is designed to protect us and keep us safe, and that it is the most primitive of our faculties, humans’ first — and seemingly reasonable — impulse, is to fear. Differences are primarily perceived as threats. Those differences could be as simple as skin color, or as complex as language. The general thought is that by fearing (and the cascading journey towards demonizing) the “other,” we are more safe.
However, our spiritual and evolutionary biology has brilliantly developed another impulse, a more refined and nuanced understanding of the other, one that wires the brain differently, and that is to love; to embrace, accept, inquire about, learn more from, and welcome. And this development is huge. Why?
Because love activates the social and thinking parts of one’s brain, and, can actually suppress the amygdala, the part of your brain responsible for “fight or flight.” That’s amazing. Read that! Love. Suppresses. Fear.
In other words, fear begets more fear (the activation of the fear center in everyone’s brains). This causes everyone to begin fighting one another (less safe). If you perceive the other as a threat, they begin to perceive you in the same way. It’s reciprocal. But, in the same way, love begets more love (the suppression of the fear center in everyone’s brains). This causes everyone to begin welcoming one another (more safe). It is also just reciprocal.
So, if you want to consider the question of, What do I do with the other? in regards to the question, What is more safe? The answer is simple. Love.
Or, put another way, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18)