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How to Address the Fear of the Big Bad Wolf

Mia BroomsIn the story of the three little pigs, we encounter the character of the big bad wolf; he is portrayed as big and bad. The same can be said when we think of the “big bad wolf” in our daily experience. However, fear tends to be the driving force behind this concept of the big bad wolf. Our thoughts, fears and emotions make conflict ugly and uncomfortable and hard to deal with. Fear makes us build walls in order to protect ourselves from this “the big bad wolf.” This is often the same way we deal with race, because we don’t know the person, group or culture we become afraid and we build walls to protect ourselves.

Once someone comes into our personal space we become afraid and this creates a fear that may make us act in ways that are inappropriate. Fear is a basic survival mechanism which occurs in response to a specific stimulus such as pain or the threat of danger. Once recognized it can lead to an urge to confront or flee (also known as the fight or flight response).

The fear of something or someone unknown and the lack of understanding is the basis for placing people and groups into categories. By creating these categories, it places that unknown at a safe enough distance so we don’t have to talk about or deal with the issues.

However, in order to break this cycle and deal with the perception of the big bad wolf, we have to be willing to get to know someone or a group that is different than us. Break down those walls, be curious and ask questions in order to understand the other, and start building different kinds of relationships.

If you would like to know more listen to Who is The Big Bad Wolf and Why are We Afraid of Him/Her? How race relations create, nurture and perpetuate the existence of this fictional character with Marvin E. Johnson, Founder and Executive Director of the Center alternative Dispute Resolution and Lou Gieszel, Deputy Executive Director of the Maryland Judiciary’s Mediation and Conflict Resolution Office (MACRO)

Mia Brooms, Graduate Student Intern

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