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While studying in Merriam-Webster’s Vocabulary Builder, I came across an entry titled “HOSP/HOST”; the book says that the root words come “from the Latin word hospes and its stem hospit- meaning both ‘host’ and ‘guest’”. Shortly afterwards, the book does make a very interesting remark:

It may seem strange that the word hostage is connected with host and in fact with guest as well, since hostages  are now unwilling guests, at the mercy of their hostile hosts.

Upon reading these words, I found myself remembering the two thrillers: The Perfect Host (2010), and The Host (2013); and the horror movie, Hostel (2005). Do you see the pattern? How all those words and movie names can be traced to a single root word in English or Latin? Then, I also remembered the theme of trust towards strangers turning out to be fatal or extremely dangerous, getting repeated over and over again in mainstream fictional media. And I wondered…is there a conspiracy against hospitability? Is there an agenda for the elite, whether secret organizations or not-so-secret ones, to inject as much distrust as possible among people and societies across the world?

Why would horrible meanings like animosity and kidnapping become somehow linguistically linked to hosting and hospitality? And even if there is an apparently valid historical etymological explanation for this, then why are the words again so blatantly linked to danger, animosity, and horror in mainstream fictional media?

I’m not suggesting that we become gullible, or that we allow children to accommodate requests from strangers or accept gifts from them without permission from parents; of course we must be intelligent and careful when dealing with strangers, and we certainly must teach our children to be careful, but still, all this need not come from a perspective of “distrust”.

Carefulness when dealing with strangers, whether for adults or children, can come from a pragmatic, sensible, precautionary perspective, not from a scared, cynical, or distrustful attitude. This comes from the spirit of never letting fear, as a root negative human emotion, dictate our decisions or direct our actions in life in any way. There’s nothing stopping us from being careful, while simultaneously being loving, or at least acting out of love.

Parents should take great care in teaching their children carefulness and intelligent precautionary behavior and principles, but without instilling distrust in their hearts or character.

And we should all revise our attitudes and understandings today regarding words like “host” and “hostel”, and cleanse the unfortunate linguistic or verbal link to the word “hostility”; and if some of us watched movies, whether amusing or horrible, that brainwashed us even further, then we should surely make a conscious effort to purify our minds and subconscious from any paranoid cynicism or negativity, and replace it with good ol’ carefulness, mixed with optimism, openness to trust, and love. And in this age of texting and phoning, we should definitely invite each other over a lot more often than we currently do—family and best friends. Let’s bring back hospitality and trust to our world.

—Yaseen Rocca