“Thank you for seeing us!”
This is a phrase I’ve heard a number of times in the last dozen years or so from people in terrible circumstances; like those who’ve fled IS or other over-dimensioned bullies or those who’ve had everything they owned pillaged or those who’ve experienced inhumane violence or those who’ve always been placed at the back of the queue or those who’ve watched their loved ones beaten, brutalized and murdered.
I’ve been amazed at the humble attitude of thanksgiving these people have displayed when all I’ve done is acknowledge their existence and walk a few steps with them as I try to get a grasp on why; why they are in the predicament they are in and perhaps together with them explore possible ways in which to bring about possible change.
My friend Bishop Thomas of the Coptic Church said this to me. A Yezidi leader hugged me as she told me this. My friend, Shwe Maung, a Rohingya Muslim leader from Myanmar expressed this. A Christian leader from Syria who had snuck across the border in to Turkey to meet me articulated this. And I’m sure I’ve seen it in the eyes of beggars in Oslo, Bangkok, Yangon, Baku, Brasilia or New York when I’ve looked them in the eyes and acknowledged that they too existed
I’m still not sure what I’ve done to deserve their gratitude. In fact, I’m the one who should be (and am) thankful. Nevertheless, if all it takes is looking clearly at someone, smiling to simply show that I see them and walking a short time with them, I think I’ll keep it up. How about you?