By Efterpi Bilimpini
If we were to go back in time we would find that hospitality – offered and received – was a virtue to which people were trained. The greek word φιλοξενία is a compound word for φίλος – friend and ξένος – foreigner. There was a divine requirement for every person to receive a traveler, a messenger or stranger into his home and offer to him the best possible hospitality. Considered a form of social power, it could practically bring closer a king to a pauper. The host had to make his guest feel at home and in return the guest would show respect to him and his family.
As I was listening to my friends this morning narrating their experiences during the weekend with their host families it made me think how fulfilling it is to witness ideas like this travel through time. Accepting and offering in return comfort, care, joy and respect. Ideas such as this go beyond time, place or origin and that is what makes them so special. Whether it is a child’s dream coming true, an unexpected encounter, a new flavor acquired, a feeling shared, an enlightening moment ……….!
Later on in the day, I found the recurring idea of hospitality most relevant than ever in the sessions that followed. What if we were to approach environmental related issues bearing in mind and close to our heart the underlying values of hospitality as initially taught and appreciated, that responsibility of offering and receiving respect, a responsibility that would be translated into freedom of choice. What if we comprehended our living in our environmental encounters as a form of hospitality, where the host is abundantly offering to us and we respectfully receive, that would actually transcend the need to discuss issues of ethical protocol, would make things simple.
Last but not least, another recurring topic. That of race… What if… but this is self – evident, or at least it should be. How come our civilized societies embrace and celebrate all forms of personal choices and preferences and failed to address this one successfully.
We all have our personal and national myths, those may be stories to fall back on to explain things that cannot actually be explained or places to visit and relive past, overwhelming histories. They help us through life. But what if those myths were to be hosted by others with the respect they deserve ……..
By Efterpi Bilimpini