Contributed by Nicholas Pediaditakis, MD, DLFAPA
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 many. “Oh, well, that was different,” some 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 — called “albinos” — as having magic powers and they’re cursed. They often proceed to kill albino humans, and often their parts are used as amulets — objects thought to protect their owner from harm.
The sad point is that the curse of xenophobia, bigotry, and racism is embedded in all of us, worldwide. Fortunately for us we also have inside of us Filoxenia — 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, band together becoming hating killers. It happened in Europe 83 years ago. the buckles of Hitler’s soldiers belts were inscribed: “Got mitt uns” –God on our side!
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. Occasionally and tragically some individuals fall in the trap of hate, ending up as killers — tempting us to fall 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 are 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; all us. We should think and reflect!
Xenophobia: The fear, or hatred, of people or things that are strange or foreign. If you look at the Greek roots of the words, you’ll find that xenos meant strange/foreign and phobia meant a fear.
Filoxenia (Philoxenia): Loosely translated, a strong sense of hospitality, or even the love of strangers. The xenia here is older, and meant guest, with philos meaning friend.
Sadly, the day after submitting this article, a wonderful, gentle, much-loved lady who was a British legislator, mother, and wife named Jo Cox, was shot to death by a fellow British man. He apparently was offended by her urging her fellow citizens not to abandon Europe and to be kind to immigrants.
I felt as if she verified the content of this essay with her blood. On reflection, in my next article I will focus on Philoxenia.
Copyright © 2016 by Nicholas Pediaditakis, MD
For more information on Dr. Pediaditakis and his Raleigh NC mental health clinic, visit his Facebook page.
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