Sunday, February 27, 2011


LIBYA. I sit next to women from your cities who have come to study English at Georgia Tech. They are keeping daily vigils in our Language Institute hallways with their laptop computers flashing live news of your protests. Their computers are emitting steady streams of shouting and gunfire.

Today, I sit next to two LIBYAN women. One LIBYAN student, who I have only gotten to know in the last week because of LIBYA’s civilian uprising and her persistent vigil, looks at me. “My whole body is sore,” she says. “It hurts if you touch it.” She takes one hand and touches her arm. She shakes her body trying to free it from the horrors of the killing going on in her country. She generously accepts my concern and scoops me into the experience of her pain. There seems to be strength in unanimously acknowledging the inhumanity of Gadhafi’s response to the LIBYAN people’s protests.

I am familiar with the other student sitting next to her. She is taking my intermediate writing class. She nestles close to the woman with the computer, saying nothing only leaning into the face of the computer. “Right now, Gadhafi’s army is attacking her city,” explains the other woman. “Mine was attacked three days ago.” We pause. The noise and confusion continue to blare from the computer. And we just sit there with nothing to say. My writing student, an obstetrician with four children, peers into the computer. Her silky brown hijab and long black coat seem to engulf her. There is too much suffering. Too much worry. Too much unknown. Too much shooting. We cannot make eye contact. Then it is time for all of us to go to class. We disperse.

“How was your day,” my Chiboogamoo greets me in the evening. I cannot shake away the hallway vigils of my LIBYAN students. I cannot forget their sense of helplessness. “I feel lost,” I tell my patient husband, “What are we supposed to do in the face of evil?”  Earlier in the day, the LIBYAN woman had quietly said to me, “In my religion, we are told that we can only do our small part. We cannot change the large picture.”

After failing to get CNN’s attention here in Atlanta, some of our Language Institute LIBYAN students left for Washington, DC. I haven’t heard or seen if these LIBYANS succeeded in capturing US media attention.
Hallelujah asks for what is right and true to triumph. LIBYA listen to your citizens. My country, the UNITED STATES of AMERICA listen to LIBYA’s cry for help. WORLD assist the LIBYANS who are asking for change. Let change occur peacefully without mothers sacrificing themselves as explained to me: “Mothers are going out with their sons,” one LIBYAN student told me. “ ’If you are going to die, we are going to die with you,’ these mothers tell their sons.” 

1 comment:

  1. My dearest Ruth, What you tell us is heart breaking, full of courage and resolve. I'm disheartened that the Obama administration seems to be waiting to see who becomes the winner in each of the Middle Eastern uprisings. Thank God for these young people who know what to do in the face of opression. You are in the thick of it too as the conveyer of their truth. Hallelujah to you.