According to Meriam Webster dictionary the definition of Xenophobia is, ” Fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign.”
The more that I have been privileged to meet and talk with people who are different from me the more enriched I become. I wrote in my last post regarding our eternal search for peace and the shortcomings of narrow religious dogma’s role in preventing us in obtaining our goal. On the other hand faith can aid us tremendously in finding our elusive peace.
The Bible quotes Jesus, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so must you love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (NIV)
When I became a christian the captivating draw for me was the love and concern that fellow christians showed for me. My life experience has illustrated time after time that we members of the human family are all seeking meaning in our lives. Nothing says that you care for a person that comes from a different faith than yourself or a different ethnicity than your genuine desire to learn about them and your interest in their well being. We all hunger for respect and worth.
The famous motivational speaker Zig Ziglar said, “I really do not care how much you know until I know how much your care, about me.”
I traveled with Professor friend of mine who was of the Hindu faith. What a wonderfully compassionate and sweet gentleman! I drove him all over Springfield, Illinois in the mission of finding a restaurant where he could be served a vegetarian dinner.
During Mary Jane and my travels to several European countries the concrete fact that always emerges is that people are consistently helpful and kind whatever language, culture, or religion that they are part of.
We visited Tunis, Tunisia soon after the Arab Spring. One of the kindest tour guides that we have ever met led us through the city. This man wept when he spoke of his love and appreciation for the United States!
I had the privilege of working with an African American colleague on my leadership staff for several years when I was at Southern Illinois University. She was one of the wisest women that I have ever known! She told me once that she thought that I had come from another planet because she had not worked with someone who she could not detect prejudice in. I was honored and humbled by her sincere comment.
Harsh words that are full of hate…misogyny…xenophobia…speech that marginalizes is frightening and it matters. Words matter! Political candidates that cavalierly say destructive comments to the cheers of thousands…is chilling!
We must listen to the easy promises of people who “on the face” seem to have very quick full-proof answers. We must ask how are they going to accomplish the trite self assured answer they give to solve desperate complex problems?
Have you ever been marginalized? Have your ever been the person who was left out? Have your ever been on the outside looking in? Remember that feeling the next time you see the homeless, the handicapped, the foreigner who has been chased from their home by violence…fear…genocide.
This Sunday morning as we go to our individual churches to worship Christ with our friends and neighbors…speak to the lonely new person who is setting in the back of the sanctuary… who does not have the best clothes…who needs a shave and a haircut…who is quietly watching the religious program…speak to Jesus.