The word foreigner comes from the old French estrangier (today, étranger), formed from estrage (stranger) plus the French suffix -ier. The composition that reaches us today is the heritage evolution in French from the Latin extraneus, the same one that gives us the word strange.
The foreign has been stalking us for years, it seems that now it is represented with more force. The continuous boats that arrive at the port of Arguineguín in the Canary Islands once again put in check what makes us unbearable of the strange. The government improperly confronts what happens, neighbors confront intruders, and certain political parties take advantage of the singular or unusual to promote hate speech.
The arrival of the foreign highlights in each of us a “real” that is difficult to assimilate. The threat of covid-19 strengthens this terror, it seems that it is those strangers who will only bring us misfortune … Perhaps for many of us it is preferable to deny that there are countries where the lack of opportunities is so latent, than to embark adrift is the only one glow of hope.
The unbearable towards the foreign will be that which does not allow us to identify with it
But why does the strange thing make us so unbearable? To build a world in which to feel safe, we are strengthened by sharing a certain trait with the other (language, skin color, religion…). The fact of being able to share that “something” often establishes security in us. For this reason, when we do not share a trait with that other stranger or foreigner, we tend to classify it as different. The different segregates and gives rise to fear of the unknown. I am referring here to understand the term foreign in a broader and more radical way, since the unbearable towards the foreign will be that which does not allow us to identify with it.
We live in a time where technologies connect us to the other side of the world, we consume products made in China or Japan and we chat with our virtual friend from Australia, whom we have never seen. It is paradoxical to believe that we share the same circle of belonging with someone who lives in the North Pole, and not think the same about someone who tries to cross the Mediterranean by boat or who tries to force the gate to enter the country.
Therefore the problem will not be so much the foreigner in the sense of people coming from another country. It is everything that we cannot include in our circle of belonging, that which does not resemble us and what we do. Always without forgetting that the circle of belonging will have a symbolic and imaginary character.
When the other is excluded from the Other, that is, when he is no longer in that circle of “trust”, when we cannot identify ourselves and identify him by symbolic means to what we already take for granted. We reduce the stranger, to identification, to everything that has nothing to do with the most individual of us. Thus the horror arises, wishing that it did not come near, that it remained “outside.”
It will be important not to forget that in the times we live in, conflicts motivated by religion, sources of wealth or borders, do not stop growing … Which places us all, countries and people at risk of being excluded, of being that strangers to the other. We are warned more frequently, such as “years and years”, the shocking television series that predicts a not so distant future. It will fall on the side of the new generations, creating the conditions to lead to a more livable world.
Digsmak is a news publisher with over 12 years of reporting experiance; and have published in many industry leading publications and news sites.