Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Xenophilia and xenophilic

Recently my Canadian friend introduced me to two words that he was led to believe are new words (but are not) and they are of course Xenophilia and xenophilic.
He told me that, “A couple of weeks ago in our church someone was talking about these sorts of issues and he coined a phrase which I hope catches on: xenophilia. He said that God is "xenophilic:" literally a lover of the stranger or the outsider. I think Christ called us to be xenophilic as well. Think of Matthew 25:35 "I was a stranger and you welcomed me." The question shouldn't be how grateful the stranger is, the question should be how welcoming we are.”
Being attracted to the implied meanings of the words, I looked them up on an on-line Dictionary and found that they were not completely new, as they have been around for nearly half a century. However they are not well known and I would like to try and do my bit in changing that fact, starting with this blog.
Now Xenophilia (The noun) and xenophilia (an adverb) are the complete opposites in meaning to xenophobia. Now I am sure that, although I hope you are not one, nor necessarily overly familiar with the word, that you have at least heard of that word Xenophobia and its meaning, at some time or another.
Although xenophilia and xenophilic have only been around since around 1955-1960, xenophobia has been around, as a recorded word since at least 1900-1905, (according to the dictionary) and much, much longer in attitude!
Xenophobia is “an unreasonable fear or hatred of Foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange. ”On the other hand and opposite extreme, xenophilia is “an attraction to foreign peoples, cultures or customs.”
Although I had heard of Xenophobia before and knew I wasn’t one of them, I had never heard of Xenophilia before and so when I did, I had to ask myself, “Am I one of them?” And I guess the answer is, “Not completely, no!”
No, because I don’t really have “an attraction to foreign peoples, cultures or customs.” I don’t mind meeting new people and trying new things and customs, but I can’t say I am a lover of them or that I have a particular attraction for them either. But then I am not afraid of, nor hate them per se` either. So while I am definitely not a xenophobe or xenophobic in anyway, I am not quite a xenophile either, although I very happily fit very close and comfortable with them, and especially as opposed to those who are genuinely xenophobic.
What about you? Are you prepared to ask yourself openly and honestly which you are closest to in your everyday reactions and actions with the strangers you happen to meet in your every day business or busyness? Or are you already happy enough to if not outright embrace everything new, at least test them and see, or as they say “Try before you buy or reject”? Will you also like me try and spread the good news about the word ”xenophilia” and try and influence others behaviours by your own xenophilic behaviour? Again just a little for you to think on. Please?

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