Today, we (me, M. and the Karagoz puppets) are nowhere near Tulum, Mexico – such are the vagaries of time-lapse blog travel. Rather, I am home sick, with more blankets piled on top of me than there were mattresses under the Princess and the Pea in the classic children’s tale.
Well, you’ll have to thank Hacivad Bey for that, our learned Sufi elder, who awoke me this morning with the sad news that there was a person in pain out there in the world – a person who‘ left this comment on a post of mine about Recep Güven’s forward-looking commentary on Turkish-Kurdish relations which mentioned the need to cry for all who die – including terrorists – his was a humanitarian vision. My comment-leaver said just this: “Do you christians weep for the muslim freedom fighters you kill?” (Please note, the lack of capitalization is verbatim, from the person making the comment).
Hacivad Bey woke me up early, of course, as he knows that my goal with this blog is to crack open the challenges of cross-cultural co-existence in whichever manner makes sense at the moment – or doesn’t make sense – as it often goes in cross-cultural encounters. And here, he told me, was an opportunity.
Now, dear reader, what you need to know is that the aftermath of these comments from Mr. Recep Güven have spurred a number of opinion essays in the English-language Turkish news (not to mention the Turkish language news!) – such as this one on “crying for the terrorists.” The author to which the hyperlink takes you reminds us of how Islam calls for bodies to be handled…and how this relates to the inflammatory comments:
“In Islamic law, the corpse of a human being is deemed deserving of respect, regardless of who this person was when he or she was alive. Believers have a duty to respect the dead body and they must bury it properly, in no way harming or insulting it. What the police chief said was not much different from this injunction. At least, a similar logic could be applied.”
Well of course, I agree with this. But here I am, just sitting with the peaceful Hacivad Bey who is just letting me take in the comment. I was not surprised, nor was I angry, but rather just determined to write a good and passionate response that would hopefully foster some decent dialogue. Hacivad Bey just said to me “it is not likely – listen to the pain in this person’s heart! It is evident in their tone. It is likely hopeless to respond. But some of the best movements in our world are just so.”
Esma, the hippie puppet, piped in upon hearing this “with all due respect, Hacivad Bey, I really think we must always try to forge connections, understanding and respect – don’t urge us away from it!” Hacivad Bey sighed heavily, thinking how much the enthusiasm of youth is ever-present in Esma.
So, there we sat, me and Hacivad Bey, as the little chorus of dancing lady puppets delivered the morning çay and cold medicine. After that, they pretty much left me alone, pooled together on the dining room table, to watch the live-streaming news on CNN Turk. They are interested in what will happen to their homeland – and are concerned to see that some feel there is a 50%-50% chance of Turkey going to war with Syria. You can read more about that at the blog Ottomans and Zionists, here. They also just like to count all of what they feel are both pompous and unnecessary nationalistic comments on the various news sites that refer to Turkish fighter jets as “the Turkish eagles of freedom” and the like. Ever the agent provocateur, Karagoz suggests that these commentators like to envision eagles as they are “a bit like a primped up chicken on steroids.”
Regardless of the at-times-over-the-top nationalistic tone on the current goings-on in Turkey re: Syria or re: the “Kurdish problem,” as it is often called, this Turkish-American home is feeling the weight of the lack of clarity on what is happening – and what will happen. Bombarded by well-meaning friends and family, many have asked whether “M.’s family are near the war,” (no war yet, we respond), have asked us to explain what is going on – or have asked M. if he will “go back and join the army.” It has been, as Downeast Mainers say at times, “wearing” (as in something that wares you down).
But these questions are not as “wearing” to us as the ever-present reality of the ways in which the U.S. has created such misunderstanding and hatred over so many years…it isn’t a one way-street, of course, but I want to own up to our part. So, after a day of thinking about the best way to respond to my angry comment-leaver, I just decided to do a quick response from the heart – and while it likely sounds pedantic, stupidly naive or any other adjective you care to assign it – I don’t care, it’s from my heart – and it’s my blog, after all. I do hope that my comment-leaver writes back – and maybe some dialogue can occur.
Here is what I wrote:
Thank you for commenting on my blog.
First things first – while the tone of your comment suggests to me the great pain in your heart – yes, yes as a matter of fact, I do cry for all who die in these awful conflicts which I do not support. I see human beings first, beyond religious or ethnic or national identification. If you read my blog, you would see that this is the entire point of what I am doing – please read – please engage with me here – I welcome any comment you care to make if you are really open to true dialogue.
Second, I do not imagine it is fair that you lump me in with other Christians – and I am barely one of those having seen what the Christian churches can perpetrate in the name of the Bible. Unlike the stereotypes that many people have about Americans, I am aware- well aware of what has been perpetrated against Muslims worldwide by the U.S. and/or people who are Christian or use the Christian moniker for centuries. This does not represent the Christianity I know or was raised in. Please know that “we” are not all the same. We do not all hold the same views. We do not all support the idiotic and oppressive political maneuvering and warmongering that goes on.
I implore you to engage in productive discussion with me – let’s move beyond the pain and hatred – life is too short – the ills perpetrated by our leaders are too great – let’s re connect as humans. It may sound trite or blithe – but I mean it.
- On my writing about cross-cultural marriage (with the Karagöz puppets) (elizcameron.com)
- Turkish F-16s force Syrian flight from Moscow to Damascus to land (rt.com)
- Turkish police chief’s remarks on PKK issue dominates agenda (worldbulletin.net)