Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Istanbul: We are each other's saviors

Writing about Freddy reminded me of an interaction my brother and I had in January, when I was visiting him in Istanbul.

We had been on a dolmuş (minibus) on our way home from visiting my grandmother when it became suddenly clear that the little girl in front of us was likely to get carsick. She was with her mother, another woman, and a man. They were an obviously conservative family, with the women covering their heads and the man standing protectively over them. I reacted immediately, and told my brother to give them a plastic bag he was holding in case the girl was really sick. As he handed the bag over to the women, the man took it from him and then handed it over to women even though the mother was closer to my brother. Then we also broke off a piece of bread for the girl to chew on, which again was passed from my brother to the man and then to the mother and child.

I noticed these mannerisms immediately, and realized it was a result of their conservative religious beliefs. The man also wouldn't make eye contact with me and avoided talking to me. Nonetheless, the child was my priority and I was going to try to help regardless of what our religious differences were. After a few more minutes, the girl started feeling better and just then the family came to their stop. As they got up to leave, the mother stopped and looked at me and said, "Thank you for everything. People are each others' saviors" and left.

What she said was so correct for me and so important. We clearly had different values and beliefs and I most definitely did not agree with most of hers. But that didn't stop us from helping them or prevent them from accepting our help. I know that she would have helped us, too, had we been facing our own difficulties. So many people refuse to give or take help because someone doesn't "belong" to their group, but throughout human history it has always been people who ultimately demonstrate the grace and kindness that saves others. Whether that is due to divine intervention or something else is up to you to decide, but we always have the choice to open our hearts to others and I wish more people would remember that.

1 comment:

  1. Dr. Seuss had it right. "A person's a person, no matter how small." (Or how much their religion/values/culture differs!)