Xenomania

Okay, so we all know X is probably the most dreaded letter in this A-Z Challenge. Am I right or am I right? Show of hands … who automatically thinks X-Ray and tries to come up with a remotely interesting story about one? Yep. Me too. I got lucky last year (not in that sense, focusing on the writing challenge here people) – I wrote about Xenophobia. Basically it’s a dislike of people from a foreign country and it seemed a valid travel related subject matter. So I figured I’d just flip in around and look at the opposite: Xenomania.

Let’s start with the definition:

xenomania
noun
  • A strong preference for foreign customs, manners, or institutions; the gaining of pleasure from meeting strangers or visiting foreign countries. An obsession with strangers.

Now that we’re all on the same page, let’s discuss. Looking at the first part of that definition – on the surface, I don’t think there’s necessarily anything wrong with having a passion or even a preference for a foreign culture or country. I’ve met numerous people, who although born here in Australia, identify more with the country of their ancestors and so prefer to call themselves English, Greek, Lebanese (for example) rather than Australian. They speak the language, stick to foreign dress sense, serve up cuisines from those countries, and chose to support national sporting teams of those foreign lands. I don’t think you can fault people for being proud of their ethnic background and for choosing to maintain an element of that heritage. I do, however, see a problem forming when that attachment to foreign institutions clashes with those of the country you’ve been born into or choose to live in. Respect for the culture, laws and customs of the place we call “home” needs to come before personal preferences.

But lets look at the second part of the definition … “gaining pleasure from meeting strangers and visiting foreign countries”. I’m trying to be balanced in looking at this but to be honest, I can’t see any harm coming from that part. At all. If anything, I think a willingness, even eagerness, to visit foreign countries or mingle with foreign people (at home or abroad) probably promotes acceptable and tolerance. By actively seeking to learn more about foreigners, we educate ourselves and I think ultimately break down unfounded prejudices. I will say though, as someone who is proud of her own culture and country, I would like to think that everyone at least be able to acknowledge the wonderful elements of the place they were born to.

This post is part of my contribution to the April 2017 A-Z Challenge

For a list and links to my other challenge posts, click here

For those interested in revisiting my 2016 challenge post for X, here’s the link: Xenophobia

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28 thoughts on “Xenomania”

  1. Such an interesting post. It is also true in Canada that people of many backgrounds keep their cultural connections and ties, to the point that some never learn to speak English or French. While there’s no political or cultural expectation here of complete assimilation, recent events have boiled up the same questions about the potential clash of values and affiliations that you raise in your post. It’s an ongoing debate here.

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    1. It’s the same here in Australia. I think it’s an interesting debate too & I doubt there’s a simple answer. It’s one thing to love a culture foreign to your own, it’s an entirely different story to love your own culture but try to live in another and figure out how you make the two coexist harmoniously. For many it’s not an issue but for some it’s a challenge to reconcile the two. Thanks for you thoughtful comment.

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  2. Kim, I loved your beautiful interpretation to the word. I absolutely agree with you! Meeting new people, visiting foreign countries breaks the wall and prejudices we may be holding on to. Acceptance and tolerance too is enhanced. If lucky, we may end up making some beautiful friendships for life πŸ™‚

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    1. Thank you, Radhika. I think life is that much richer when we manage to form connections with people from countries and cultures so different to our own. How else are we to really understand this world we live in if not by interacting with others?

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      1. I know yayyyyy!!! I’m taking a one week break from writing me thinks 😊 Going to Goa next week with my bestie. Maybe will be inspired to write something after that. But for now it’s a sabbatical coming up:

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  3. X is a tough one. I used x-ray this year because it fit my theme (words that start with the letter and end with the next one) and in 2012 because it also fit the theme (words from the NATO spelling alphabet). I think I’ll look at foreign words (Greek or Aztec are the best bet) for next year.

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    1. Wow, John! You have a knack for picking unusual themes. I really admire that, I think it fits well with the spirit of a challenge. I will have to think of something more original for next year.

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      1. This was a Jeopardy category on a show a year ago, so I can’t claim total credit. In fact, I think the last three were at least suggested by that show. That’s a great source of categories for this.

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  4. I like the “gaining of pleasure from meeting strangers or visiting foreign countries” part of the definition. That seems like a positive. Interesting that we hear about xenophobia all the time, but never about xenomania. I think you can be passionate about your own country and still embrace other cultures and ideas. They don’t need to be at odds. WeekendsInMaine

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    1. I agree, on all fronts there. You’re right too about xenophobia being something we hear so much about … I didn’t even realise there was a word for the opposite. Such a pity we talk more about the negative though.

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  5. Couldn’t live where I live if I didn’t like meeting new cultures and people. I grew up in Canada but strongly connect with my Welsh heritage as well. Great post and a timely lesson for people as well.

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