As many of you are aware, Ellen and I just returned from a trip to Egypt. In many ways it was absolutely fabulous. Seeing things that are over 4,500 years old is mind blowing. However, one of the things from this trip that will stay with me is something smaller and much more right here, right now. That is, even though Egypt is half a world away; even though the dominate religion is Muslim, not Christian; the truth is that as people we are more alike than different.
For example, our first day in country was a day with no planned activities, just time to adjust to a different time zone. During the day we borrowed the hotel’s wheelchair and went out to do some exploring on our own. Egypt while a very modern country, is not, for a handicapped person, a very accessible place. But every time we ran into a problem, someone would jump in to help us out. Whether that be stopping traffic (ask Ellen about entering a traffic roundabout in a wheelchair, it was quite the adventure), helping with curbs or simply helping with directions when we looked lost. The people we ran into were simply people willing to help other people in need.
We spent some long hours with our tour guides and got to know them on a personal level. There was Mohamad. Married with 4 kids, two boys and two girls. Mohamad grew up in a middle-class rural family, but had to move to the city to get work. It bothered him that he was not going to be able to give his children the best aspects of living in a rural area; close to family and a bigger home. But he was working hard to give his children the best he could. He was proud of the fact that he was able to send all of his children to private schools. He knew a good education was the key to their future. However, he felt bad that he couldn’t afford an international school (considered the best schools in Egypt), but was doing the best he could for them.
There was our guide Nadil (that’s him in the picture). Nadil’s mother is 85 and in declining health. She is living with Nadil, but can’t be left alone. Nadil and his sister were struggling with how to best balance their personal and professional lives with their responsibility to care for their mother.
It struck that with all the people we encountered, how much we are more alike than we are different. People who have compassion for others. People who love, care and struggle with their families. These basic human similarities surpass our minor differences. We are all, Christian or Muslim, Egyptian or American, created in God’s image. That basic fact makes us more alike than different.