Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Memories of Egypt

It's been a few years since we were in Egypt. But we have seen familiar scenes on TV news the last few days,
Our visit provided us a lot of contrasts. We stayed in a luxury hotel not far from the pyramids. We rode in comfortable motor coaches or aboard modern railroad trains composed of German sleeper coaches. We saw the pyramids, mosques, ancient ruins, a riverboat from which we could see farming along the Nile and a whole lot more.
The bottom picture shows Cairo - a busy modern city. Some of the buildings and highway viaducts in the background are the same as we've seen on television this past week. But Cairo is a city of contrasts - not much different in many ways from other middle eastern cities. Busy streets - modern stores - large office buildings - signs of prosperity.
But the picture at the top left was also in Cairo. Call it a subdivision if you wish.
Only thing is, this housing was at the city dump. Yes, it IS housing - look at the doors open to living quarters. And the picture at the top right was near Cairo - another small housing development at the side of the road.
Sadly, we take a lot of our lifestyle in American for granted. We live in comfortable homes, apartments, and condos - at least for the most part. But we can see scenes like these in we look for them. I recall an assignment I had when I was going to pastoral school in Kansas City, Mo. back in the late 1970's. We were to told to go into the inner city and visit people where they lived. Apartments without running water - plaster peeling from walls and ceilings - abodes filled with debris and crawling insects. Mildew. Mold. A smell that stayed with us long after we left.
Scenes not limited to one city but duplicated in many other areas of our country.
Yet not one of those scenes compared to the poverty and privation we've seen in Egypt.
So, as I watch the news, I'm not surprised at people protesting and demonstrating.
To be sure, some demonstrators live a lot better - or have in the past. But once in a while we need to recognize that the treasured life styles we enjoy are too often simply taken for granted. I pray for God's forgiveness when we take privation for granted. And don't do anything to correct it.

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