I had to look this word up recently. It was not that this was a totally new word to me. I had seen, heard, read, it many times. Lately, its usage has been more frequent. I just wanted to know for sure what it meant. Through ‘google’, I found that it means excessive fear, dislike, and even hostility toward anything ‘foreign’ or to anything and anybody outside of one’s own social group, nation, or country. It is an expression of perceived conflict between an in-group and an out-group and may manifest in suspicion by one of the other’s activities, a desire to eliminate their presence, and fear of losing national, ethnic or racial identity.
It would seem that the British, when they conquered Quebec in the mid-1700s were not xenophobic when they allowed the French to retain their religion, and language. However, 100 years later, this grace was not extended when the residential school system was implemented to deal with the ‘Indian problem’ and assimilate First Nations people.
Xenophobia manifests itself in many ways. While Canada has generally welcomed refugees from many countries, there is resentment about ‘them people’ taking jobs away from Canadians. A relative of mine, having visited downtown Toronto complained, ‘I couldn’t understand anyone, doesn’t anyone here speak English anymore?’ Recently I was shocked, as were many others that a family in London, ON was deliberately struck by a vehicle.
The word ‘xenophobia’ is not in the Bible. There are plenty of examples of it, for sure. Pharaoh’s attitude towards, the Israelites; the story of the Syrophoenician woman; Jesus story of the Good Samaritan; etc. Obviously, God did not desire this attitude. In the Old Testament, farmers were encouraged to not thoroughly harvest all the crops, but leave some for the stranger and foreigner, and in the New Testament, Jesus encouraged people to ‘love your neighbour’, and even your enemy, the Christian Church in general, has not done a great job of following these precepts. It could be said, that Christianity has earned a bad reputation.
Many Christ-followers are counter-acting this bad rap with visible acts of love. Some churches sponsor refugee families, welcoming and aiding immigrants to a new life. Others endeavour to help the widows and fatherless, and the poor, and by feeding the hungry. Aid has been sent to many foreign cultures, and let’s continue to do so. But let us not forget those close by. Now is the time to do some ‘random act of kindness’ for someone outside your in-group, near your home. Maybe, in addition to boring water wells in other countries, we could endeavour to make amends at home by providing clean water where presently there are ‘boil water’ advisories.
May we ‘not grow weary in well-doing’. Galatians 6:9
‘Those that sow in tears, shall reap in joy’. Psalm 126:5-6
I love this rhyming couplet:
To live above, with saints we love, Oh, that will be glory;
To live below, with saints we know, -that’s another story!