Here’s a novel idea I just came across in William Von Hipple’s excellent book “The Social Leap.”
Hipple is an evolutionary psychologist with some provocative ideas – one being he postulates that xenophobia probably evolved as a form of disease prevention for the tribe. In other words, we became suspicious and fearful of other tribes because we didn’t share their immunity – we would literally get sick around them.
So from an evolutionary perspective, it made sense to fear “the other,” i. e. those who were unknown and different from “our tribe.” Our immune systems were different from theirs, thus making us vulnerable.
Evolutionary science is interesting to study – often it reveals biological imperatives for behaviors we might think are simply poor choices, or even somehow morally wrong. In reality, they developed as a way to protect and propagate the species.
It’s easier to change negative cultural norms if you understand why they got started in the first place.