Hospitality: Our Doors are open.
Hospitality is a major value in all ancient cultures including for the Norse, the Celts and the Greeks. Some might argue that it is the foundation stone for all Indo-European religion.
In the ancient Greek stories, Zeus would disguise himself as people whom society had marginalized to test the virtue of would-be hosts. If we fail to be welcoming to someone, or fail to create safe space for someone, for any reason other than a direct abuse of our hospitality, we fail to do so for the King of Gods.
Offering hospitality, in ancient Greece, meant more than food or drink. If a person needed clothes because the journey had been rough, or a bed to sleep in, these, too, were provided. Hospitality means seeing to a person’s needs and comfort.
Creating a safe space does not simply mean ignoring factors like ancestry, where someone is on the gender spectrum, orientation, body shape, disability, age, or income. It means trying to understand where the person is coming from, and understanding what they need in order to be comfortable in the spaces we create.
Discourse: The Dialogue is Open
This isn’t just an honoring the Greek Gods thing. It’s a general Ancient Greek culture thing. Discussing politics and the state of the world are both highly traditional things to do at Symposia (a gathering for the purpose of libations). We can and should create space for dialogue about these important and pressing topics.
We need to talk about discrimination.
Having dialogues about discrimination can help us to understand how best to respect the journeys of those who must face it. It can also help us to begin to understand how to respond as citizens and voters.
The basis of that dialogue, however, must be respect.
Humility: Our Hearts are Open
This sin of Hubris is often framed as “questioning the gods,” but that’s not quite on-point, in terms of the Hellenic view. In Ancient Greek myths, the humans didn’t generally engage deities in philosophical debate so much as behave as though they were equal to or better than the deities. This is a problem because if you think you are better than the gods, how will you treat your fellow humans? Conversely, if you do not think yourself better than your fellow humans, all the more so, you are not in danger of doing so with respect to the gods.
Racism, genderism, ableism, ageism, classism and other forms of prejudice are a kind of Hubris.
Humility also means, in my mind, not assuming that I know better than another person what they have suffered, and not to presume to speak for anyone else’s experiences, nor invalidate their narrative in any way.
It is with these virtues that I hope we can comport ourselves in this time of growing awareness of the racism and prejudice which are plaguing our society, and it is my sincere hope that through creating a safe space and open dialogue with an eye to remedying injustices, progress can be made, even if only in our one small sphere of influence.