I recently learnt that the two words - hospitable and hostility - come from the same root word, as does hospital and hospice, and so on.

Open door

PICTURE: Jan Tinneberg/Unsplash

The word is hostis in Latin and means stranger, guest or enemy.

You can see how they developed; you can either be hospitable to the stranger, or hostile. Either see them as a guest or as an enemy.

Most ancient cultures demanded that you were hospitable to the stranger. You were obliged to look after them and they could do you no harm at threat of great punishment. You can understand this - travellers, journeying in a world without hotels, needed rest and refuge.

Which brings us to refugees. Strangers to our shores. We can either be hospitable or hostile. If I was the stranger, I know how I would want to be treated.

Paul Clark’s musings can be heard on radio across Australia and at atthetop.org.au.