This statue caught my eye last month while in Basra, Iraq.
It’s the image of a transcendent figure rising from the crumpled remains of a car. It’s simultaneously beautiful and awful. It makes an impression.
I asked my friends about it.
It turns out that this statue is very beloved and famous in Basra.
A few years ago there was a bombing in this spot which set several cars on fire.
Rescuers attempted to pull a woman from one of the burning cars
–but she resisted.
The fire, you see, had burned away enough of her clothing to leave her partially exposed–naked. In this culture, where modesty is valued and most Muslim women (and some Christians) are fully covered in public, this is very shameful.
So the woman chose to burn in the car,
rather than be seen unclothed.
And so this statue was erected in her honor,
because here in Basra she is seen as a HERO–a pillar of virtue and faith
because she chose a horrible death over public shame.
Now, some of us might view this as the craziest thing we’ve ever heard.
For some of us, this might raise anger over a culture that would compel someone to choose this, and anger over those who applaud it.
A lot of us just don’t get it.
But it’s the way people think here. The way they believe.
It’s the way they live here.
And that’s sort of the point–what I learn from this:
–that there are people who see life very differently than I do.
And the smaller this world gets, the more contact we’re gonna have with each other.
There is a great value in understanding someone else’s “World”
I don’t need to agree with it
or even like it much
But disregarding it–rolling my eyes and writing it off–might not serve me well.
Being willing to recognize and respect how someone looks at life and the world–“Validating it”–is a good start to building relationships with people from different cultures.
I don’t need to “get” it–just a willingness to.