"All the world needs is xenophilia, sweet xenophilia"
Many of us are aware that the United States is perhaps the stingiest of industrialized nations in terms of providing nonmilitary foreign aid. As Peter Singer aruges in his book, "One World", the fact that we spend several billion dollars on soda pop and movie tickets each year, and less than $20 billion dollars on helping to provide drinking water and medicine to the world, is a moral failing of our society.
But what about the Danish? They are among the most generous of the industrialized nations. And yet, they have the most restrictive immigration policies in Europe. This has lead to a phenomenon that some are calling the "Copenhagen syndrome"--the Danish want to help the poor of the world, as long as they stay in their own neighborhoods and don't come to Denmark. Helping a neighbor is important, as long as they don't come over for dinner.
The Copenhagen syndrome raises an interesting question about our global village: is it moral to help developing nations in a globalized world but, at the same time, prevent the free flow of immigrants into our society? The United States, of course, is not committed to either the aid or the free flow. Should it be?
Christopher Phillips, in this interview from Philosophy Now, talks about his new book, "Socrates in Love". Phillips says that the most important variety of love he studied in preparing the book is xenia, the love for strangers. He describes how this does not mean that we must actually care for each single person we encounter, but that having xenia means being open to the new experience that the stranger offers, including the possibility of wisdom.
We might say that the Danish fail by this standard. They are generous, but they are not virtuous, in terms of xenia, if they are not open to having strangers come to live in their midst.
How important, then, is the stranger to our moral development in a global village?