Wednesday, September 19, 2007

X is for Xenophobia

I think I was at E when I figured out what the subject of this post would be. As I was writing about ethics, I knew that I would just have to do this post. However, I'm going to stretch the definition to fit my needs.

Simply put, xenophobia is the fear of foreigners, or more commonly, the fear of those that are different. Despite the etymology of the word pointing more towards birthplace or culture, I will be using the looser definition.

Like Garth in Wayne's World, as he was speaking to Rob Lowe's character after the basement show goes big time, I think that we all fear change to some degree. As a great example of this, take a look (or better yet a listen) around you. People reach a point where they simply stop dealing with change as easily as they had previously. Not all, but many seem to hit that point in their senior year in high school. People that graduated in 1973 will think that good music largely stopped then. The same for 1983, 1993 or 2003. Or even 1923. At some point later, hair seems to get stuck in the timewarp next to the music collection (I don't mean losing it, I mean not wanting to change it)... clothes, too. I still hate wide ties, and my Dad could never understand narrow ones.

OK, I hate all ties, so nevermind.

Left turn, and back off my tangent...

Many, if not most people fear change. Looking at it more deeply, we fear that with which we aren't familiar. Personally, I think that is the basis of xenophobia. But, like the fear of sashimi, there is something to be learned by overcoming that fear. I think that what we can learn is that there isn't anything to fear. Those we fear are pretty much like us. They might look different, eat differently, or even love differently... but so do we when looked at through their eyes.

"But Lane, how does this apply to real estate?"

I promise that I had this coming a LONG time before this, but just today, Eric Kodner and Charles McDonald had GREAT posts (with excellent comments as well) about Fair Housing and the practice of real estate. The "X word" even showed up in the comments.

The point for real estate agents is that we CAN'T be xenophobic. Furthermore, we can't let our sellers be xenophobic. And, if our buyers are xenophobic, we can't let that influence the way WE do business. Xenophobia, bigotry, racism and prejudice aren't illegal (long comments about that...) but that doesn't mean they are ethical. And, acting upon those beliefs or fears CAN be illegal, as well as unethical or immoral.

But, getting past xenophobia CAN be fattening. Think of the amazing foods. Beef Momo from Tibet is amazing. Nigiri Maguro (tuna on rice sushi) with a hint of wasabi is great with saki. And, don't forget a rib sandwich on white bread from Fat Matt's Rib shack on Piedmont Avenue in Atlanta (go at night, catch live blues). Skip lutefisk... lye is NOT a seasoning.

Keep it real.

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