Πέμπτη, 24 Νοεμβρίου 2016

Philoxenia and Xenophobia.


Last time I wrote about xenophobia – a nasty trait in us threatening our civilization even our presence on this earth.  Now I want to write about Philoxenia – i.e. the eagerness to help and take care of “others.”
Xenophobia, does not have to be with us, in fact, we have to get rid of it.  After all, we have flourished as social beings on this earth for millenniums.  We cooperated, we formed bands, and using together our genius and industry, we ended up walking on the moon and we are now preparing for the stars.  We cared and still care for each other, we display compassion and affection, we practiced altruism and still do.  I, personally, witness daily by the spontaneous offered unsolicited help by kind strangers to me in my physical difficulty (I am double amputee walking with prostheses).  There is also usually a quick and often massive response in physical disasters by nations and institutions helping the victims no matter where they occur.
Where cooperation and kindness have prevailed, we ended up conquering the earth, thanks to our sociality and philoxenia.  As a result we multiplied, we defeated diseases, overcome famines and natural catastrophes, we now live longer and better, the majority of us prosper and enjoy life.  Where in the world xenophobia came from?  This nasty trait in fact expresses itself in violent acts by individuals rather rarely (we loose 40,000 in car accidents and another 40,000 in gun related events yearly in our country, in comparison to a few hundred by  individual massive killers.)  But when distressed groups steered in their anger and fanaticism by malevolent charismatic leaders reach a critical mass, then they become as a group massive killers.  It ends up repeatedly in a calamity for the whole humanity.  This trait of xenophobia is band together with yet another one, equally nasty; the aggressive territoriality, are embedded in our human nature expressing themselves from time to time, to our grief and suffering.  Together they carry a bunch of supporting practices by our institutions and leaders along with tribal narratives – like exceptional-ism and specialness.  These narratives are sustaining these nasty traits in their irrationality, adding to our vows and suffering while threatening us with extinction.
What is their origin?  Undoubtedly they must have provided a survival value for our species back there, in the Savannah grasslands as we were roaming as small bands competing for land and food with other bands and wild predators for untold millenniums.  We will never know for sure.  But no longer!  These traits are now not only obsolete in their usefulness but outright dangerous since the sticks and javelins of old, have now been morphed into atomic bombs.  We have no choice.  We must modify or sideline them or they will sideline us.  We are left with only one guideline for our survival; the golden rule:  Do to others what you want to do to you, and the inverse; don’t do to others what you don’t want them to do to you.  We have to do it soon.  Problems are pilling up demanding collective efforts and cooperation; we already have made progress, as the various international agreements for pressing problems show.  We have the genius and altruism and rationality and cooperation: The philloxenia.  These qualities define our humanity in spite of the defects mentioned.  We can do it given time, but time is what we may not have.


Xenophobia: The Curse of Humanity

The fear and often hatred and even violence towards our fellow humans that they are considered as “others” because of the color of their skin, or their habits, their religious faith, or their point of origin, appears to run deep and is a curse for the entire humanity.  It may even, together with some other critical defects, like aggressive territoriality, may lead us to our extinction as a species.
Think of it; a young man goes to a night gathering and expresses his displeasure of witnessing two men kissing each other in public a few days earlier by killing 49 people and maiming 53 others, who too, like to hug each other similarly.  Oh, we may  say, he, himself  was “other”!  Unfortunately, this is not so.  This curse is part of heritage of all of us, in our human nature.  Here is an additional poignant example.  Approximately a year ago, a rather neat young very light skinned young man visits in Charleston a church where several praying fellow humans happened to have darker skin.  He debated with them with two guns at hand, while they have to die because of their “darkness,” and he proceeded to kill allegedly eight of them.  Oh well, that was different!  We will say.  But do not forget that only a few decades ago you were in danger of being lynched if the color of your skin did not match to that of your mate.  Here is another even more depressive example.  In certain parts of Africa, specifically Malawi and others, consider fellow humans that are born with a lack of pigment in their skin (making them vulnerable to cancer of the skin and diseases of the eye) called “albinos” as having magic powers and they’re cursed.  They often proceed to kill them and often their parts are used as amulets.  The sad point is, the curse of xenophobia, bigotry, and racism is imbedded in all of us, worldwide.  Fortunately for us we also have inside of us philoxenia; i.e. the desire to know and help strangers matched with affection and tolerance and logic helped by the teachings of all faiths. Occasionally though, in troubled times, groups of us humans, goaded by leaders peddling hate, they band together becoming hating killers.  It happened in Europe 83 years ago.  -The buckles of Hitler’s soldiers belts were inscribed: “Gott Mit Uns”  God with Us!! –
As Humans, we need to continuously, be aware of this danger in us – especially in our country which is made up of people of many origins.  Even though occasionally and tragically, some individuals fall in the trap of hate, ending up as killers.  Tempting us to fall ourselves in the well of hate!   Me and you, my neighbor, and my friend, we should educate our children and each other and try to know each other and find out that they are not them and us.  They only us; the tall, the thin, the obese, the one with an accent or a faith telling a different story about the mystery of it all.  We should think and reflect!!

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