Last year’s Pulitzer Prize-winning news photograph was won by a harrowing scene: a boy, lifeless, washed on a shore in a land too far for me to feel attached to.
All the while, political and physical violence raged on, with only a head shake in disbelief before turning to other subjects.
I want us to think about the 3,322 migrant deaths around the world—of which 69 happened on our borders—and really focus on a face at a time.
Picture a face.
Now, another face.
Make sure you know these faces well.
And another one.
Now do this 3,318 more times.
Really try to do it.
Think about how they are all victims of something bigger than themselves, fleeing a lack of resources and an excess of violence and war and corruption.
If that number doesn’t make you at least wince to yourself, you need to go out and meet people more often.
In Geography class, we learn about how the land and its resources have long shaped history and our human story. We also learn that there are push and pull factors that attract or push away peoples from an area.
Almost consistently, it is the presence or lack of a resource from the geography that drive the push and pull factors. For example, a drought or famine—lack of water or food—can create economical destabilization, human loss, war, and mass migrations.
The true holds for the converse. Without citing recent events, attaining a resource that is present somewhere else not within your geography has driven economical growth, trade, discovery, war, and mass migrations.
Lost yet? Keep your arms and hands inside the car at all times.
I’ve heard friends joking that they would hightail it to Canada if Trump became president. If someone stole money and took your rights away—not your guns or the bathroom sign you so like, but your ability to speak your mind about these subjects, would you not try to leave as well?
Why does this matter at all to me, sitting here, sipping fair-trade certified coffee from a country whose name I can’t pronounce?
I want to work under the assumption that you, the reader, has a set of values that are not for sale. I want to propose we embrace Xenia as one of those values.
Xenia is the word the ancient Greeks slapped on the concept of hospitality, offered to all far from home.
This isn’t only a Greek concept. We see this in play across civilizations even today.
Xenia consists of two basic rules. First, the host must show respect to the guest; second, the guest most show respect to the host.
Respect from the hosts include shelter, protection and food, while the guest is expected to be courteous and not to be a burden. Both parties must exchange gifts.
In many of the cultures where Xenia was and is practiced, the belief that some day a holy being may be the one at the door drives the desire to provide, shelter, and protect.
I’m not going to tell you what Xenia looks like when you embrace it in your own life. I want you to come to that conclusion on your own, and with those whom you surround yourself.
For some reason, our leaders have called for a halt to refugees coming in to the country for fear of violence. These refugees are fleeing the very thing we accuse them of.
That makes no sense.
When my friends book a one-way ticket to Canada, what would their response be when at the airport or the grocery store they are called Trump supporters?
Closing our doors to those who are attracted to our opportunities is not only unnecessary but cruel.
Most moral codes are founded on some variant of the same principle behind the Golden Rule: life is meant to live it for others.
As a community, we should strive to extend the same support and love to all those who need it, not only those within our community at this moment.
Xenia shares its root with xenophobia, the fear of strangers. In a community that purports to be a representation of your values, fear and distance from those who are in need stands squarely in opposition to those values.
You value family? Keep one together.
You value freedom? Welcome someone who is fleeing repression.
You value hard work? Make it available to someone that needs it.
You value honesty? Keep your promise to be honest and don’t parade your beliefs if they do not apply to others.
Picture a face.
Now another one.
Make sure one of those is you.