We teach our kids (rightly) not to talk (too much) to strangers.
My children are working to learn their community–trying to remember names and faces.
Sometimes they see someone they don’t know waving at me. As I wave back they ask, “Do you know them?”
Usually I do. But sometimes I don’t. If they ask me why I’m waving at someone I don’t know I have a couple of answers: First, It’s polite to return waves even if you don’t know the person. As a pastor, I’m a public figure–more people know me than I know. If someone waves, I’m definitely waving back even if I don’t know exactly who they are.
Second, if my kids occasionally catch me waving at someone who hasn’t waved at me, and they ask “Do you know them?” I have two answers: (a) No–“I thought that was someone else” or (b) “I’m greeting the imago Dei (the Image of God).” I especially love that last one.
I want my children to recognize the special dignity that each person carries as an image bearer of God. As C.S. Lewis says in The Weight of Glory: “There are no ordinary people.”