Sunday, August 24, 2014

What is a home?

Robert Frost said in one of his poems that a home is a place you go to when no one else will take you in.
But a home or a homeland is much more than that.  I asked one person what a home was to her, and she said, "Where my husband and child are."  The physical building, its size and condition, or locale did not matter to her; rather if the people she loved were with her, any place was her home.
     To other people, location is of utmost importance.  Konrad Lorenze stated that all beings (plants included) have built into their genes the "territorial imperative."  A certain area and only that area can be home and beings will not only fight, but die to protect that locale.  If they are not in that place, they will turn in its direction when they pray, and spiritually claim it as their homeland even if they do not live there, or ever intend to visit it.  They may move from their original home for political, economic, social, or religious reasons, but they find it difficult to assimilate to the new place and bring mementos of the old to the new.
Thus, America has places such as "New" York, "New" Jersey, "New" Hampshire, Ithaca, and Plymouth to symbolize that the colonists could not forget their original homes.  They will view the original natives of the area as enemies or savages and reinstate their homeland's  ethics, morals, and culture, which they regard as far superior than the indigenous people's into their new territory. Nostalgia runs deep in the heart of the immigrants or exiles when they come to a new land.
      Often, conquerors refuse to learn the language of the natives and superimpose theirs on the original inhabitants, and they resent any immigrants from any another country who cannot learn the tongue they have brought to America.  Interestingly, "America" is the name of an Italian mapmaker who gave his name to land found by a fellow Italian who used Spanish funds to seek India.  It is purely outcomes of war that English  is the dominant tongue in the United States instead or French, Spanish, Cherokee, Navajo, or Lakota.  How important language is in making people feel at home is demonstrated in the book The Hare With Amber Eyes.  In this memoir, the author states that his grandfather insisted that each of his children learn to speak five languages because he said" if you can speak the language of a country, you are always home."
      A home should offer love, respect, acceptance, sustenance, and protection both from the vicissitudes of nature and those who seek to harm either the building or the land people call their own.. Wars everywhere have been fought since the beginning of life on earth either to protect or secure homes which can offer these entities.
      What is most puzzling to me is that once a group has a home, it insists that all others conform to its dictates.  Why does everyone in the home or the land have to have the same beliefs, religion, culture, emotional state,  and customs?  Why is there no respect for uniqueness?  What honor is there in killing someone who does not conform to the culture's mores?  Why hang or crucify someone who rebels against someone who wants to defend his  home against a conquering nation?  Is a home so important that any deviance from the "norm" evinces shunning, exile, or murder?  
     As I write this, horrendous conflicts rage across the globe in the Ukraine, Middle East, China, and Africa over defensive or offensive attacks on homelands. Immigration policies in the United States are controversial as refugees from horrendous homelands are seeking shelter and a better life in a safer place. Those who are already here, ironically, want to deny to others what they now have.  They or their ancestors are acting towards the refugees the way that a white man from Tennessee reacted when he heard a  Hispanic girl was missing.  He stated that Hispanics do not belong in his state and he hopes she is either raped or killed so Tennessee can belong to true Tennesseans.  I am sure, the true natives, the Cherokees, agree with him, that all who are not Cherokee, especially the whites, should go back where they came from and leave the state to its original homeowners. 
     HOME:  such a simple word with such complex meanings.  I explore this word in my historical novel The Conspiracies of Dreams as Christians, Muslims, Jews, and even pagans try to redeem their ancestral homeland.  Right now the conflict is a nightmare.  Can it ever be such stuff as dreams are made of?  

 The Conspiracies of Dreams is available at, barnes&,, and independent book stores.