Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Prayers for Istanbul

"Ubunutu.  I am a person through other people. My humanity is tied to yours."

-Zulu proverb

I'm not even sure where to begin when it comes to yesterday's attacks on the Istanbul airport.  My heart is so heavy for the Turks and for everyone involved.  

Yesterday after the attacks, text messages started pouring in from friends to make sure Mike was okay.  Thank you so much.  It makes me feel so good that you all care as much about Mike as you do about me.  Luckily, he was in Izmir with friends.  Those friends were supposed to go to Istanbul today, but their flights were cancelled and they are spending another day in Izmir with Mike.  We are so thankful for their safety, but also heartbroken for the people who were not as lucky.

As all of the texts were pouring in, my best friend and I were talking and she said something that rings so true for this attack, as well as the attacks in Orlando, Paris, Belgium and around the world.

"It's just really sad that this is how people feel they need to act to insight the change they desire/have been inspired to think this is honorable." -Anna

It's so true.  It is so sad that people must resort to violence and anger to get their point across.  Fighting fire with fire does not solve any problems, it just makes the fire grow bigger. People in Turkey and around the world are now angry and heartbroken after yesterday's attacks.  Yesterday did nothing but make the divide between terrorism and the rest of the world deeper.  My biggest fear is that, as more and more violent attacks happen around the world, people will associate Turkey with violence and anger and  I would hate for the minority to be seen as the majority.   I have so  many fond memories of Turkey and of the people there, none of which involve violence or anger.

Right before I left Turkey for good, Mike and I went to the local bazaar where most people do their shopping.  I wanted to get some souvenirs, so our first stop was the ceramics shop.  As soon as we walked in, we were greeted by the owner, Can.  In English, he said "Welcome brother Mike!"  and expressed his gratitude on meeting me. He offered us tea, talked with us and helped us pick out some ceramics for us and our friends and family.  We were treated like family.

After the ceramics shop, we went to the carpet shop where we met Can's uncle.  We were once again offered tea and things to eat.  We looked at carpets, but we also sat and talked with Can's uncle. We talked about our lives in Turkey, why Mike and I didn't have children yet ("You have been married nine months yes?" said Can's uncle) and about the world.  I will probably never forget our discussion because religion came up.  This man, a devout Muslim, wanted to know about our beliefs.  When Mike told him some of his hesitations when it came to religion, he nodded his head and said that he too had had reservations.  Then, he said "Whenever I have questions about whether God exists, I think about the wind.  You cannot see the wind, but you can feel it's effects.  Just like the wind, you cannot see God, but you can feel His effects."  The passion in his eyes and his love for his religion was so apparent, it brought tears to my eyes.  He was not trying to push his religion on us, but yet explain something that was so important to him.  I could tell that his beliefs were his guiding light and the reason for his peaceful and accepting demeanor.

After experiences like the one in the carpet shop, I am constantly reminded of Ubuntu.  I hope that when people think of Turkey, they think of people like Can and his uncle, not of the terrorist activities that take place there.  There are almost 80 million people in Turkey and my humanity is tied to theirs. My year there made me a more open-minded, loving and accepting person because they were open-minded, loving and accepting to me.

I just hope that terrorist groups will realize this too.

Inshallah.  God willing.

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