It’s interesting to consider hospitality as a virtue today, because as I write this we are in the middle of what seems to be the largest refugee crisis since the second world war. And that seems like an amazing thing for me to think about.
Here in Germany, where I’m also a ‘resident alien,’ there have been both outpourings of support for the refugees and amazing regressions towards right-wing insanity whether sincerely meant or not. (I genuinely believe a lot of the symptoms of ‘Nazism’ seen around recently have just been assholes behaving as assholes and do not reflect well thought out and passionately held convictions. After all, all of the symbols of Naziism give a sort of shorthand to anyone who wants to be extreme.)
So, on the one hand, hospitality as a virtue and on the other hand the fear of hospitality being exploited.
I believe that hospitality means treating others in your ‘house’ the way you would care to be treated in their house. And, an extension of that — applied now to the refugee crisis — will mean taking the concerns of our guests as seriously as we’d care for our own to be taken.
I suppose that’s enough on how to exercise hospitality. I believe that there’s an importance to exploring why hospitality.
There are a number of potential reasons. One may be the fact of our common humanity, or of a sort of paying it forward against the possibility that we may need hospitality. But, I don’t think that we should think about needing hopitality. Instead, I think we should think about enjoying hospitality.
Hospitality is, like the other virtues, linked with personal development for me. When we host others, we learn. In the iron age, we may have learned of dangers and opportunites from strangers who came from areas we did not know. Now, the opportunity to host someone unknown to us means exposure to other thoughts and other thought processes.
Writing now as a person who has turned his back on the religion — and several other elements — of the culture in which he was brought up, I believe that exposure to the new is a virtue. And, while to recognition of the humanity of others is a virtue both in the host-guest relationship and life at large, at the moment, as I focus on my own personal development, I see hospitality as much more. It’s the commitment to engage with my guests, to see what I can learn from them. To help them, in order that I might grow.
The above is basically my understanding of hospitality as a virtue, before I begin considering it in a pagan context. This will, of course, eventually inform what I write in my eventual Dedicant’s Path submission.