Sunday, February 20, 2011

To My 7 Libyan Brothers

Dear Brothers - I don't know if you remember me, but I remember you.  In the autumn of 1973 we lived in Alban Towers in Washington, DC.  I was attending the School of Foreign Service and you were learning English and planning on transfers to other universities at the end of the semester.

I remember your generosity, and how you stuck another plate on the table when I happened to knock on your door one evening as you were sitting down to a meal.

I remember your argument with Prince Mansour of the House of Saud in the lobby of our building.  That was a scene I don't think I will ever forget.

I remember that the most vocal among you, and the apparent leader, married and divorced me in the space of an evening...and no honeymoon either!  You were all very patient with this young American female who knew nothing of your culture or religion.

I remember the last time we visited, just before you all scattered to other universities to get degrees.  The quietest, and perhaps shyest, of you wept that night,  That was when I learned he felt something for me, and I felt badly that we had no opportunity to find out where it might have led.

Most of all, I remember your pride in your nation and your leader Qaddafi.  Your government paid for your schooling, and you all came from families that were not by any measure wealthy.  Without your government's help it was not possible for you to attend university, let alone university in the United States.  You all wanted to get your degrees and then go home to transform your nation into a modern society.

Whenever Libya becomes important in the news I think of you and wonder where your lives have taken you.  I wonder if life has been good to you.  I wonder if you achieved your degrees and went home and achieved your dreams.  And now, in the face of such unrest, I wonder if you and your families are safe.  If Libya changes, I hope you will be there to help your people move to a new, and uncharted, future.

My 7 Libyan brothers,  I pray for you and your people.  May Allah protect you and your families in this time of trouble.

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