Check in this week was how do we interact with strangers?
There was a duality with what was shared; people are mostly overly friendly but this is determined by their inner mood or climate. When there is a geographical distance or an over population of humans, like in the CBD, an apathy falls into place. The men were a little more suspicious of the strangers than the women of the group.
We have different layers of protection here. When the stranger is breaking through to us in direct engagement there is either a fight, flight or faun process. We fight or we faun and when there is a geographical distance we take flight and ignore the sufferings of others.
What is the blindspot here? What is being ignored, reacted to or suppressed? Why are we caught within the sympathetic nervous system when engaging with the stranger?
Let’s have a look at a few different scales of the stranger.
We have the local stranger, who walks past us every day and might even live next door. We have the people outside of our nation’s borders from different histories, contexts and cultures. Then we have the intimate parts of ourselves that we ignore and depress within us.
What can we learn as we reflect on these different scales of the other?
Our collective’s, Australia’s, treatment of refugees has been inhumane. Sweeping the terrible treatment of displaced humans under the rug as we dance on the international stage as a complacent, greedy child who cannot face their our own mistakes, failures or dark side. This dangerous stubbornness has led to a continual refusal to accept help from countries such as New Zealand in fear it would undermine our nation's policy and be used as a short cut by refugees to then migrate from New Zealand to Australia. (1)
Where does this behaviour come from?
Can we scale it down to our own communities and the relationships we have with ourselves?
The group brought up fear, and defensive behaviour stemming from rational decision making based on avoiding potential crisis or dangers; losing our culture/way of life, terrorism, attacks, manipulation, pain and suffering, etc. We seem to fill the empty vessel of the stranger with all of our own oppressed shadows and fears. We then submerge ourselves with rational justification in which totally convinces ourselves away from the insecurity and consequential knee jerk reaction to fear.
This manifests in our everyday life when we are face to face with the unknown, something outside of habit or even stepping into our power or integrity. We can also use the excuse of a dangerous, unforgiving environment or society or even dangerous players to avoid speaking our big foolish dreams and desires or even standing up for ourselves or others. Fear is our racket, that protects us from our own potential at the expense of the stranger.
We are trying to look good to ourselves at the expense of our potential, we are trying to look good in our community at the expense of authenticity, connection and contribution, and Australia is trying to look good to the international powers at the expense of refugees.
Let us flip it on its head. Say we ignore logic and take a risk in the face of the unknown, we allow and accept our fear smothered anger to assert ourselves in the world and stand with integrity as a unique contribution to community, we speak our truths even in the face of disappointing those we love and respect, we own up to our shortcomings in order to grow past them and we trust in the power and abundance of relationship, transformation and diversity. This ripples out to our collective national body and accepts refugees with an excitement towards all that we will gain from them being with us as we grow with hybrid vigour beyond our fears and shadows.
In Greek there is a word called philoxenia which is translated as, ‘friend to a stranger’. The people of Greece accepted refugees during the Arab Spring with the value of philoxenia holding self respect within family and community. It is a sign of good standing within society. (2)
Does such a value come from a precedent in history in which the act of generosity reaped such a reward that outweighed any scarcity logic?
Has Australia experienced such a precedent?
Growing up steeped in reason and logic as the qualitative authorities of the Western world are brutally deconstructed we have no leaders in the realm of faith. The religions have been brutally picked apart by our one dimensional interpretation of the word. Yet as we lose this authority we lose all the products of having a spiritual narrative to guide our values and inner compass.
Shall we take a risk.
A leap of faith.
Shall we create a mythopoetic story that helps us pull the wool from our eyes and waters the fragile seedling of our integrity and inner strength to growing into a big strong tree that holds up the canopy for our community?