Xenophobia

It means the fear of foreign or strange.

I found myself wondering how the attacks in South Africa are being categorized as xenophobic and yet there was nothing strange or foreign. The attackers and those attacked were all African.

A further search on the meaning in South Africa yielded this definition.

Xenophobia is generally defined as ‘the deep dislike of non-nationals by nationals of a recipient state.’ This definition is also used by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC). Xenophobia is also a manifestation of racism. Racism and xenophobia support each other and they share prejudiced discourses. They both operate on the same basis of profiling people and making negative assumptions. The profiling in the case of racism is on the basis of race, in the case of xenophobia on the basis of nationality.

This description was similar to the News images and video clips on social media.

A deeper look at this definition reveals that this is not only a South African phenomenon. The entire world has xenophobia- from building a wall along the Mexican border to Italy refusing to grant migrant ships docking privileges.

It is in Idi Amin evicting Asians from Uganda. It is in Hitler pursuing and annihilating Jews. It is in Japan’s war crimes against China in World War II.

It is Darfur, Myanmar, Rwanda, Syria.

It is Boko Haram, Taliban, Al Qaeda, Al Shabaab.

It is Nigeria retaliating. It is Hong Kong deporting. It is Brexit. It is the WindRush fiasco.

It is Sierra Leone. It is Biafra. It is Caledonia.

We live in a fractured society rather than a collaborative one. We deliberately choose ‘us’ against ‘them.’

James writing to Jews scattered all over the Roman Empire teaches them not to pander to these whims.

Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?
James 4:1 NKJV

He shows them the source of all conflict, ‘I’. The rifts, schisms, fractures are crafted by a lens that only allows you to see as you see.

Take this lens off for a moment. Put on the other person’s lens, walk a mile in their shoes. Do you see their colors? Do you see their hopes? Do you see their dashed dreams? Do you see their children?

Take off their lens. Where do we go from here? Will your lens work? Maybe. Will their lens work? Maybe.

If you both see ‘together’, through one lens, what would you see? The challenge of the 21st century.

To be more inclusive. To love more, to give more, to share more, to open up more.

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?
Micah 6:8 NKJV

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