Broken-down Poetry: To be human


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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

To be human

people are just people
they shouldn't make you nervous
the world is everlasting, it's coming and it's going


People are just people.

I read in George Orwell's "The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius" that people are not just people, that people in England aren't the same people in America or in Germany or in South Africa. But I don't believe George Orwell - and I wonder if at the end of the essay he doesn't refute his own opinion.

I joined Preston and Claire who taught English last night at the Life Center. I had met a few students last week at the party, including Van's brother Ahmed, Zeba and her husband Amir.

The two-hour class is organized into two parts. It's an upper-level class centered on conversation, so each half of each class has a different discussion topic. The first topic was marriage.

What surprised me about our conversation about marriage with Kurds, primarily Muslim Kurds, was that nothing they said surprised me. Every answer sounded American. Everything sounded Christian, and not even ultra-conservative Christian. It sounded like something I've said about marriage or I've heard said about marriage.

Several of the students talked about respect: the husband respecting the wife, and vise versa; the wife respecting her husband's friends, etc. They talked about what they look for in a spouse: education, values, looks, honesty.


I'm writing this to expose my ignorance. I assumed a lot about this culture because of the books I read (A Thousand Splendid Suns) or movies (I'll be honest: Aladdin), but I've been wrong.

It's hard to know a culture without being immersed in that culture. I can read all I want, and still not grasp what a people group is all about. I can talk to Jessica and Jeremy about life in Kurdistan, without understanding what life in Kurdistan is really like.

I can't stop thinking of the Incarnation, and what it meant for God to step into our world in order to empathize with us.

He didn't just read about the world or watch movies about it.
He lived in our houses; he "moved into the neighborhood" as Eugene Peterson says.
He put on our skin; he put on our culture (he wore Klash!).
He died a death that we die: political, religious.

So when God says to me, "Girl, I get it. I know what you're going through."

He means it.

I'm beginning to understand that now.


[* photo by Lydia Bullock]

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