Then this morning, I got an e-mail from the amazing program manager at the university where I used to work. She had an e-mail from a former student who sent some photo's.
This then, is the face of Libya.
This is one of my former students. A lovely, kind and gentle man. A hard worker and good thinker. Two years after he left the program, he was thoughtful enough to send pictures that he had of teachers and students.
I think that when we replace categories with people, it changes the way we think. It helps us to look at the complexities of life and maybe strive more for kindness and understanding. Knowing that a Libyan, an Egyptian, a North Korean are all real people changes me. It helps me to pray in a different way. It helps me to understand that issues are about living breathing people.
For me now - orphan has a name in our sweet baby. North Korean- the sweet teenager in my class last semester and the somewhat odd men who were sent by their governments to study. Muslim- so many names and faces. Refugee- Annie from Liberia and so many more. Fundamentalist- my sweet friend's Martha and Gina. Republican/Democrat- my husband and I and yet we vote the same way and believe the same things.
Calvinist, Dispensationalist, Conservative, Liberal - all labels that get thrown around that represent real people.
I am not trying to have some kind of "We are the world" moment. Just a minute to think to step back and consider that labels don't define us. Our personhood does.