Hospitality

Of the Nine Noble Virtues, Hospitality seems to be the one most in question right now in the US. Why would I say that? Well lets first define what Hospitality means, as related to the 9NV. Then we can discuss how it is relevant to the situation in the US.

The virtue of Hospitality is the idea that a Heathen does not tolerate nor practice self-centeredness. Hospitality means that I have the obligation to give those in my home a generous reception and to extend my hearth and frith to them. A Heathen provides our gifts and support to our ancestors, our wights and our gods. We do not accept any that would subjugate us. The Havamal tells us that once a man has enough he should not crave for more. A generous person is happier. (Havamal Verse 48)

In ancient times places of refuge from the elements were few for the traveler. There were not Inns every few miles. No Motel 6 keeping the lights on. When a traveler came upon a village or farmstead they asked for accommodation from the home owner. If that home owner extended that accommodation to the weary traveler – and most would because frith obligates one to be generous – they accepted responsibility for the safety of their guest. It was bad mojo indeed to let harm come to your guest. The guest had expectations also. The host would offer their best to the guest. The guest accepted this but did not ask for more than was offered. Often the gift of being hosted was repaid with news and good tales. The traveler brought information from outside the area to the host. The guest perhaps told stories of war and the gods and of their travels and the sights they had seen. The host offered warm, dry and clean clothes.  A warm bed was offered, food was served, and drink was drunk. The guest took his leave before he overstayed his welcome.

So how is this applicable to the US today? I bet you think I am going to make this about immigration, and I am, but not entirely. Think about what our country would look like if we all treated each other as if we are the host? If we were generous in our daily lives? Of course, each person should work and earn their way but why should we not also be generous in our abundance? I am not suggesting that we give to those who won’t do for themselves, far from that. If a person isn’t capable it is only right to help them, if we can. If they are old, we should honor them. Learn from their wisdom and make sure they are cared for, that they do not go hungry that their homes are kept up and warm. The old are an easy one to agree on taking care of. The young – the children – are also easy to agree on.

What of those of able body and minds? What if their best is not enough? They work hard and just aren’t making it happen, at least not yet? Students who will someday be the professionals, the high school graduate who is just starting a career, the young mother who was left by the male she thought was a man? I think we can agree that these are worth our investments. Let the lazy starve. Do not reward their choices. What if they have children? The children should be cared for, should be taught to break the cycle. Feed the children – give them food, buy them clothes, give them mentorship. Let them come work in your garden and learn to be industrious.

Should it matter where they are born? Should the side of some arbitrary line on a map change our obligation to be frithful, hospitable and generous? I think not. If they are industrious or incapable of caring for themselves, I say we have the same obligation. Should a child be removed from Disney World if their parents snuck them in without paying? I would not remove the child, I would seek restitution from the parents, but I would not punish that child. This is not a good business decision perhaps, but it seems to be the right thing for me. I would want to do my best to impress upon that child that this not the right way of getting what you want, that working for and earning your way is the best way, though rarely the easiest of ways.

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