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OtherWise by Dick Martin

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2Strangers Climbing in the Window

In poetry and legend, America is a nation of immigrants, with a welcome mat stretching from ocean to ocean and border to border. But in our most candid moments, we’ll admit to being just a little wary of the Other—people who speak a different language, eat strange food, and follow odd customs, or have a different sexual orientation, worship an unfamiliar god, deny the deity’s existence, or in other ways don’t conform to what we consider “the norm.”

No one should be surprised. In evolutionary terms, Homo sapiens is a relatively recent species. The psychological adaptations that caused us to allow some strangers into our kin-based tribes about 100,000 years ago may have sparked the development of everything from ...

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