“What sort of people breed like rabbits in the middle of a horrible civil war?”
These are some of the comments on the article “More Than 300,000 Syrian Children HaveKnown Nothing But Life As A Refugee”
Well... I'll give the simple answer to the last question before going on to discuss the issue. Could it be because that's the ultimate point of life? To keep the species propagating.
I understand the thinking behind the comments, I've been brought up with the same mentality.: That you need to make sure you'll be able to provide for the child before bringing it into the world. I feared getting pregnant so much that I could not even enjoy my sexuality until I met my current husband with whom I felt I could risk pregnancy as I thought my chances were very low at 40 seeing how all friends around were trying desperately and not succeeding.
A child is supposed to be a big responsibility. And it is. But let's analyze procreation a bit deeper.
We have a saying in Turkish: “İğneyi kendine, çuvaldızı başkasına batır.” It translates to “Prick the needle in yourself, the bodkin in the other.”
It means that first you need to have a look at yourself and criticize yourself a little, only then can you criticize others. So before you have the right to say anything to these people who are just doing the natural thing...
Is what we do here any reasonable? Wait till you are 35-40 when you have the money and the resources, then beat a path to doctors' doors in despair so that you can have a child! Or put your eggs in the freezer until you feel ready, and/or hire a surrogate, and/or get a sperm from a man with such and such qualities... And then, there are so many twins around and C-section births.
I'm sorry. Even the thought of these makes me shiver. The thought of the money and time and energy spent on something that nature does for free. To have a child of our “own” when there are already so many children in need of help. And to think that “we” as the Westerners are the superior who knows the “right way” to do things!
I believe, in our search and efforts for a better life, we have forgotten what life is actually about! Of course many other meanings can be attached, ascribed to life, but the basics of it is propagating the species. And in war times, it probably is much more necessary.: as people die. It's instinct. I'm not advocating that we do not consider anything else, just go ahead with our instincts, have teenage pregnancies, multiply until we ruin the planet. I'm just saying that we should think twice before throwing stones at people whose reasons we may never know as we are not in their shoes. I personally would like to interview women about this. Here I'm just guessing as I have not been in a war situation, but people in war probably want to feel there is some normalcy in their life. Sex and having children might be one of those things that make you go on.
Why should women keep their legs crossed and men keep their pants zipped just because there is a war? So you are not even supposed to have sex if there is war? “Normal” sort of people breed in the middle of a horrible civil war. War is not an excuse for life to stop. On the contrary, it causes a drive to have more life as lives are being lost.
“Surely a little self control and restraint wouldn't have been that difficult.”
Surely? Are you sure it's surely? I wonder what the war experience of the person writing this is. What sort of pyschological effect seeing so many people dying around have on somebody? Yes, you may see it as “one less suffering child” but you may also see it as “one more child that can keep the species alive” or “one more child who knows the suffering war causes and will prevent that from happening again.”
“Bringing a child into a world that was becoming increasingly dangerous was unbelievably selfish and cruel.”
Is it really? Is it selfish and cruel? Do we have the right to pass on such judgements on others? What about all our selfishnesses and cruelty? Is it selfish and cruel a teenage girl giving birth too? What about all the rest of the world having children? Do only people with means have a right to breed and can escape being targets of your judgements?
So you need to wait until you establish a standard of living and can guarantee the happiness of a child until it reaches legal age. But what is enough? Where do you draw the line? I know people whom I'd consider pretty affluent, but they still do not dare to have a child. Is it really the child they are thinking of or is it themselves? Is it not their selfishness to choose not to have a child? Isn't it because they do not want to give up on their lifestyles? Because they know they'll have to make sacrifices?
Instead of asking, or let's say before asking “Why do they keep having children?” maybe we should ask ourselves “Why do we give up on having children?” and be honest with ourselves about our real motivations and not reach out for the most acceptable discourse “The world population is exploding, we do not have the resources to look after so many people.” Actually, it's a good thing we are the ones who give up on having children as we are responsible for most of the bad footprints on this planet. The “others” that keep having children have a much lower impact.
“I understand the right to have children, but... maybe wait until you're in a living situation where you can give your kid(s) a good life, not life in a tent.”
Seriously... What's your definition of a good life? Where do you draw the line? Does life really need to be put on hold until we feel comfortable? I mean there is nothing wrong for one to put it on hold for themselves, but to dictate that others do the same too?! Is that fair?
I mean if people gave birth and expected you to look after their children, that would be another story. But these people are not looking for handouts. Really. They just want a shot at a decent life. And the funny thing is, you have this welfare system and are fine with looking after mothers who have not kept their legs crossed, or who have even spent money on assissted pregnancies to have a child. You do not question the established welfare system, why you should be looking after those children born within the same imaginary line you were born.
Who wants their child, or any child for that matter, to be born into war and conflict, to experience such traumas? Nobody in their right mind does! But that should not give us an excuse to criticize people giving birth, it should only give us more incentive to do our best to bring and keep peace on earth. To remove borders as barriers of movement not to let children suffer unnecessarily.
Some people simply do not think the way we do and see it as “God will provide for the child, for the life He gives.” They live life as it comes. They accept the life God gives, they accept the life God takes. You may not agree with it, I myself find it hard to think that way as that's not how I was raised. But I see it that there is something very profound and envious in that sort of acceptance and resignation to LIFE. Life which is greater than we can ever imagine...
"I brought children into this dark world because it needed the light that only a child can bring." ~Liz Armbruster
“There is a saying, do you know?" asked my friend. "The disclosure of it, is worse than the occurrence of it."
“Of course not!” I said. “I do not know of such sayings.” She should have known that.: that was not a saying for me. If there has been an occurrence, I do not see why there should not be disclosure. If there is something that its disclosure is not wished, it should not occur in the first place!
She was angry at me like this once before. Because I told her what I thought of her boyfriend. I wish I had not. It's not a crime to think, it's a crime to say what you think. A murder sort of. You may think of killing someone, as long as you do not put it into action. The action is the crime. Agreed to that.
However some continue the logic like this: Talking is an action too. Thus, it's a crime too.
As long as you do not state it, you may think the most awful things about a person. As long as s/he doesn't know. You may look at the eyes of the person you call “my best friend”, while radiating fake smiles to her boyfriend.
“Nopes, there is no way I can understand this my dear, sorry,” I told my friend. I could not think of one single thing that I'd be angry at her for telling me and ask “Why did you tell me?” Apart from lying that is. I expect a person I call a friend to be open with me. I would get angry only for “Why didn't you tell me?”
Obviously, I was not the right person for her either. She did not wish for someone to tell her a frank view, she wished for someone to calm her down when she was angry at her boyfriend. That's what she told me. “I am caught up in my anger, I wish to get out of that state, I wish my friend to lead me to logic,” she said. Yeah, but to me, logic was saying that she should leave that guy. Funny though. I later would hold her as the responsible for making me stay with an intolerable man. When I was angry at him, she defended him. And I kept thinking I was the wrong one. That I needed to tolerate that man. I kept that malignant relation far too long. Just because of my friend.
So she expected me to make calculations and hide the necessary things from her. I am not that person. I'm sorry.
I don't have such relations in my life. (And I don't want them.) I have no obligation to look at the faces of people I detest in the name of politeness/manners and “manage” people with political maneuvers. Good thing I don't. I wouldn't be able to do it anyway. I couldn't do it, and that's why I broke away from that world. From that world which suffocated me.
What was my friend punishing me for now? Because I told her something that had occurred? My fault/sin was that??! Seriously, what a big crime.: I cannot understand. Where is that law written? “I didn't know that there was such an article in the friendship code book, I am innocent oh judge. I ask for my exoneration.”
Yes, you are right. There is no such thing as “I did not know the law.” But my dear, sorry Mr. Prosecutor, sorry Miss Prosecutor... My dear friend, a law has to be endowed with some reason. I mean there is such a thing called “common sense”. I cannot know everything in such detail. It's the first time I hear that there is a punishment for telling the truth! Apperantly, there can be such a thing. Whereas I grew up thinking it was a crime to lie, I've come to my 40's with this belief. May such ignorance be condemned!
Let alone lying, I thought the biggest sin was not being as you seemed or not seeming as you were. I now understand I was wrong.
Looks like everybody knows, apart from me/
Even though it writes differently in the courtesy handbook/
In today's social decorum laws, fake smiles are gathered under the topic “pink” lies.
Fake CD's, fake products may be unlawful but radiating fake smiles is not illicit, it's not even licit, it is “acquire merit.”
Fake smiles rule.
The road to happiness passes from them. Peace resides on that road.
Welcome to the parade of Fake Smiles. We promise you a life full of fun and bliss. The only rule you need to abide by is... You need to follow this road, go straight. Don't dare to turn to the Truth Street. You come across it rarely anyway, the street is deserted too. The devil has the best tunes, don't yield to temptation and say “Let me have a peek there too.” Your eyes will be plucked. Don't say I didn't warn you. I did.
“Why?” you may ask.
Because “The residents/inhabitants of Fake Smiles Street do not like those who stray to the Truth Street. And they are crowded. You wouldn't have the strength to resist.”
Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi has said it wrong,
if you by mistake be as you seem, or seem as you are,
it will be your curse.
It's human to err. And Rumi was human. So he erred.
You happened to speak the truth, you'd wish you hadn't! You have given people a gun to distress you. Mother, sister, friend and foe... all have separate judgements. You are sure to bump into one/ Explodes the mine.
- Run, run. These are “pink lies.” Just like “pink balloons.” They're about to be sold out.
Of course this is a lie too, of the pink sort. Don't ever believe it. Just make as if you did.
The white, the pink, even including the black, all kinds of lie is plenty in man's stock, so plenty as to ever sell out.
There is also a list of “things that need to be kept secret” for almost every personal/private thing in today's social decorum handbook. When I say personal/private don't think it refers to personal/private life. The main rule is not to say anything that does not need to be said. That is, to make as superficial and artificial talks as is possible. That is the craft/art. The longer you can keep up such dialogues the higher you climb up in the business world.
And the more peace you'll find among “family” and “friend” circles. Eh, after all, we live in society, there are certain necessities of social life. You need to obey.
Avoid the truth and reality like the plague. Stay away from soap and water my little one. We were thought that it was good to be clean, nowadays the experts say “Oh there are bacterias, viruses... Oh there is the bird-flu, the swine-flu, there is the wolf-sheep flu etc.” and they suggest we wash our hands. Don't listen to them. Do not mix water and soap. Do NOT share your inner life with neither mother nor father, neither friend nor the one you call “my closest.” The moment you share it, they pull you up the rope.
The noose on your neck,
gets tightened so quick,
you wouldn't even get to see the gallows.
Do NOT ever share with anybody.: your inner world. Keep the voices in your head to yourself. Or put it on paper. Paper is your only loyal pal. It's the only real pal that will keep by your side.
"Either be as you seem, or seem as you are.”
The only place you may seem as you are is paper. Paper but what kind of paper? The classic paper you know -either your diary, or a book. Literature is the only media that allows you to say all kinds of truths. It hides and protects you from people's wrath.
But sometimes even it.: can't do that. People take pleasure in attacking. Is there no excuse for the one who has the intention? They'll find it, don't worry.
Ayşe had not been dyeing her hair for a long time. Her hair had grown quite white. Her mother commented on it when she was in Rome, she wouldn't lose a chance. “You look old,” she kept telling Ayşe.
Ayşe meant to do henna but she couldn't stay home, and when she could, there were the workers, she just didn't get the chance. Finally, when they went to her mother-in-law, she commented too. The next morning, looking in the mirror, Ayşe told Angelo:
“You know what? It may be stupid but I like the whites in my hair.”
"Mmmh, yes. I have to admit it has a strange attractiveness.”
“Does it make me seem old?”
Angelo, her always polite husband, contented saying “You don't show your age.” Of course, Angelo had said this not in the sense “You look younger than you are” but in the sense “You look older than you are.”
Ayşe smiled. She did not need to think even for a second to reply. “What?! I show my age. All those women dyeing their hair... They are the ones giving you a wrong impression about age!”
She did not need to explain more. Angelo knew what Ayşe said was true. Just like everybody does. Still, Ayşe added: “Actually, among the women I know, I am the one with the least whites. All my other friends have all their hair white.”
"Either be as you seem, or seem as you are.”
Actually the problem is only on one side of this sentence. The fact that people are not as they seem is a given, everybody has accepted that as 'de facto' anyway. Those who seem as they are are punished. They are the ones at fault. Why would anybody seem as s/he is? Why would s/he want such a thing? .:When we may live happily with lies and trickery... .:why should we deal with the realities?
Unfortunately, most realities are ugly. That's the main reason why people do not wish to seem as they are. Like the whitening of the hair. People brand/stamp whites as ugly and try to darken them.
Unfortunately, it's not only physical; man is a spiritually/morally ugly creature as well... There lies an ugliness in all of us. The talent/art is to be able to hide it. Just like we hide our white hairs.
My friend was telling me... “Huh, you think that your white hair is not ugly? You don't shy away from exposing yourself because it never occurs to you that you have anything bad inside? You are wrong. You are ugly. You are ugly like your white hairs.”
Whereas I could not see anything bad or wrong in what I did. I mean nothing at all. Perhaps one day I get why she is so angry and upset. But that day is not today. I wish that that day never comes. Such a day that I will justify or advocate the lie, the secrecy.
Özdemir Asaf had said it,
"If you want lies, I'll tell you lies, don't go Lavinia.”
I couldn't see the divination.
I didn't tell lies, my daughter went away...
Perhaps she deserved much better than this world.
She didn't want lies, she left.
Do it, do whatever you want. Do whatever will make you feel at ease. Why would you torture your soul in this ephemeral world? It's not worth it. Nothing's worth it.
There is death in this world.
The rest is a lie.
The world is a lie.
I keep saying I want my pieces published, I want my voice to be heard. But I'm not even sure I really want those you know? I mean I don't want to get myself in trouble.
But I am still a little girl who cannot contain herself to touch fire.
Or you could say a little girl who wants to kindle a fire to bring into existence a brighter world.
PS: I know the above might seem like a stuck-up thing to say but it's the self-image I like to portray for myself. And it goes nowhere near people's arrogance prophesizing about what 75 million other people would be doing.
Most often times, writing or talking about the world, I don't know how to use the plural personal pronouns. We, you, they... Who are these "we", "you", "they"?
It depends on the "I".
But who am I?
For example, talking about the EU-Turkey deal, am I the Turkey as I am originally born in İstanbul and I am a Turkish citizen OR am I the EU as I am now an Italian citizen as well and I live in Italy?
When I talk about the leaders, I should be talking as "we" since they are officially representing me. BUT they are acting in complete opposition to almost every core belief I hold. Under the conditions, how can I identify with them and say "we"?
Okay, let me set apart the politicians, what about the population of Turkey and EU? There are so many among them that I cannot identify with at all. In fact, most of my beliefs and ways of seeing are in complete opposition to some of them too. So how can I talk as "we" for the community I live in?
Coming to the refugees and migrants who are the subject of my attention... Even though I may say I have a nomadic soul, I have no common heritage or background with the refugees/migrants in question. I am not Middle Eastern, I do not speak Arabic. Even though I speak a bit of Spanish, I am not Mexican or South American. I am European looking, my religion is never an issue where I live, I am not poor, I am educated and skilled even though I am not in the workforce. I am not driven from my home, I live in peace and relative prosperity. In short, I have nothing in common with the refugees/migrants who draw the limelight of hate from certain groups. BUT I am defending them, i.e. I am on their side.
So who am I supposed to call "we" as a group? I need to specify so that I can determine the "you" and "they". The only way to get out of this dilemma is to go to the highest level of identity: That we are all humans. As all other identities blur, what do borders serve?
Leyla Zana is a Kurdish politician who caused an uproar in Turkey twice when swearing in to the parliament. The first was in 1991. The oath goes like this:
"I swear by my honor and my dignity before the great Turkish people to protect the integrity and independence of the State, the indivisible unity of people and homeland, and the unquestionable and unconditional sovereignty of the people. I swear loyalty to the Constitution. I take this oath for the brotherhood between the Turkish people and the Kurdish people."
Leyla Zana recited the last sentence, "the brotherhood between the Turkish people and the Kurdish people" part in Kurdish. At that time, Kurdish was outlawed. I mean can you believe that it is illegal to speak your mother-tongue in public! That same year, the ban was finally removed.
Anyway... Rewind some 24 years. Leyla Zana who has been prosecuted for so long and has been put in jail has said that she has lost faith in the system and would not run for parliament again. But times change, people change their minds. -I know... Sometimes you are just so tired and say you are not going to travel again, but then it gets back to you after a bit of rest. It's the same with people. I tire of the interactions with people, to be involved in their petty characters and incapabilities, I withdraw into my turtle shell. Then, after a while, after I've rested, I feel the need to stick out my head again and look around. Well... Back to topic.- It's now 2015. Leyla Zana is elected to the parliament once again. Lo and behold, it's time for another "oath crisis."
See, the word "Turkish" is supposed to mean everybody living within the borders of Turkey. But "Turkish" (referring to the people, not the language) and "Turk" is the same word in Turkish: Türk. So it obviously has an ethnic connotation. That's why some people have started using the word "Türkiyeli" which literally means "people of Turkey" instead of the ethnic specifier. So this time, Leyla Zana took the oath completely in Turkish, but she made a small change in one word in the first sentence. Instead of "the great Turkish people" she said "the great people of Turkey." ("Türkiyeli" instead of "Türk".)
Murat Sevinç, a doctor in Political Sciences, criticized her in an article saying:
“Leyla Zana put in the word Turkey instead of Turkish while swearing in. It's a standing I heartily stand by politically. Ethnic expressions in the constitution that sometimes go as far as racism should be done with forthwith. However, the current oath text needs to be sworn in as is! Until the day it is changed.”
That's exactly the trouble with democracy. I don't think I agree with Mr. Sevinç. I understand what he says perfectly well, I understand that he sees it this way as a constitutional lawyer. BUT... “the current oath text needs to be sworn in as is! Until the day it is changed,” okay but... Is it easy to change that text? Let alone easy, is it at all possible? The fact that the legal road to something is open unfortunately does not imply that road to be passable/navigable. How difficult is it to reach the end of that road, to change that text? How many people does it take, how many years? If people like Leyla Zana take the risk of burning themselves up and open some things to debate, at least that road being opened can be hastened and a change becomes possible.
Things should be simple. It should be easy to change the wrongs. The reaction to this oath should be "Ah okay, this woman took the oath like this. Obviously, she is trying to make a case. Is she right, does she have a valid point?" And you look and consider, and see she has a point (I mean it's not so difficult to understand why some groups may have a problem with that word. Is it?), then you change things. This is how it should work. Instead, what happens?
The response is "Oh such an imposter! Such an unacceptable thing to do! Who do you think you are to stand up to us, to defy us!" and you use your power to suffocate the contrarian voice. This is how the system works. It is there to protect itself. Not to serve you, the people, its citizens. That's the lips service part for show.
There is so much hatred in the world and so much of it is injected into people by politicians. The Youtube comments of Leyla Zana's oath is full of people swearing a blue streak. It is part of the official discourse about Kurds. I know... Because even my 90 year-old grandmother curses them. Why can't someone in the parliament have a mature approach, uniting people instead of dividing them? Why can't they say "My dear brethren and sisters... Yes, this is against the established order. But it is a valid protest and not an undermining of the state. So we should listen to people who are trying to make their voices heard."? Don't leaders have a responsibility to calm down the angry public? Politicians do not meet halfway, do not act humbly, they see such acts as an opportunity to attack the opposition. They escalate things instead of deescalating. They turn things into a crisis. That's how they keep their livelihoods. Just like the news media... Feeding, feeding, feeding on garbage and violence. Enough!
My husband keeps telling me the same things, that I need to change things within the system. Sorry, I do not believe in democracy or voting much either. A handful of people play the game, we pretend to take part in and are satisfied. Sometimes some people need to rebel. This, of course, needs to be a rebellion coming from the bottom up. That's what I'm working for in my own way.
“It's possible to agree with a political standing. As long as this 'agreement' does not prevent seeing what needs to be done legally,” Sevinç asserts too. “When the two levels are mixed up, there is no difference between how the AKP members see the law: 'I don't like it, I'm not obeying it!'”
Here, there is this difference in my view: AKP is in power. They can make changes. They have the power to. Therefore, they do not have the right to say 'I don't like it, I'm not obeying it!' Besides, AKP and including all other parties, their being a party in the first place means they've accepted to join this game, therefore the rules of the game binds them; it's expected that they abide by the rules of the system they are a part of. Whereas I, as an individual, have not chosen to be subject/liable to these rules. Yes, I know there is something called a “social contract”. However, I have not accepted that neither at birth, nor do I now. I don't accept it. I pledge/contract to not killing, not hurting anybody without a cause/with no reason, not to initiate the use of power, not to steal, not to lie. These I accept. But I do not accept this social order the way it is, I don't want to accept it. I don't wish to be a part of it. Yet, I am made to accept it, obliged to. I am made to live with rules I do not want, I do not approve of. What's more, I am exposed to these only to live a normal life as an ordinary person.
“Do you have a right to say 'I'd like to put the tax legislation in the fridge, these taxes are very heavy, I do not feel like paying' or 'I do not like the military legislation at all, let's not do the military service'?” Sevinç also asked.
Yes! I have a right. I'm sorry I do. Or if according to you I don't, I have to have that right! I do not want to pay taxes, not because I find them too heavy but because I do not have a say on where it is spent. (Anyone interested may read further into my suggestion of a different tax system ) Can I evade taxes? No. The only thing I can do is to support the man at the market evade taxes by letting him give me a receipt of 1 euro when I have paid 2 euros. Meanwhile, my husband pays in 250 euros more out of our pockets to make some people pay taxes! And drives me crazy!
If I had a chance to evade taxes, would I? Yes, I would. (The saying goes “He who pays the piper plays the tune.” Whereas we pay, I mean they -the governments that is- get the money from us by force, and they get to play the tune themselves. It's a disgrace. There has to be a limit to insolence. They play the tune and you have to be their monkey to dance to their tune.) If I could dictate where the money I pay goes to, would I evade taxes? No, I wouldn't.
That's the way I see it. And it will stay so until somebody can show me where I think wrong.
Thus with the military service... In my opinion, nobody should be obliged to go. I mean anybody who wants to go, feel free. But anybody who doesn't, shouldn't be forced to. Albeit, some people need to be “conscientious objectors” and go to jail in order to pave that way. In my view, there should be no need for any of this at all. It's unacceptable. Ah what, it's the law! To hell with such a law! Ah, it's a crime to say this too! Oh yeah, we just shut up and obey! Good thing I don't have a son, I'd sure get myself into serious trouble if I did.
The piece I wrote on illegality is very “light” compared to my thoughts on military service. I'm sorry, I cannot accept the obligation to abide so many laws that are coercing me, leaving me no room for individuality.
Mr. Sevinç puts it as “Are we citizens or are we assholes?” I guess by assholes he meant to say “Are we idiots to obey rules?”
To me, there is not much difference between being a citizen and being as asshole, or an idiot in that sense. We are treated that way anyway.
I guess I personally prefer to be anything instead of a “citizen” in the way it is defined in our world today.
Note: This piece was going to end like this but let me modify it a bit.
I personally prefer to be anything instead of a “citizen” in the way it is defined in our world today. I mean... Look at it. All the torment they afflict on people wanting to go from one place to another just because they are citizens of another country!
Citizenship should not be something we are cauterized at birth according to the imaginary line we were born in. It should be a club that we have a choice to join. It's not enough politicians wooing for our votes; countries should woo us to become their citizens. Governments should work hard to make a place liveable, come up with alluring packages if they want citizens to govern.
You think it's funny?! Well... I'm dead serious. We need to change the rules of the game. It's time. Way past time. Okay, maybe not way past, but it is time to plant this idea in the new generation's brains so that by the time they grow up, the idea comes into leaf and can be implemented.
What I know is I am made to live with so many things I find wrong and bad in a cogwheel I don't believe in. And that democracy cannot show me a way out. I am a minority and I will stay so all my life. Does my being a minority require me to be always unheard, to have to live against my beliefs? I'm not talking about religious beliefs here, I mean my beliefs on how life should run.
I see it around on Twitter. A note: “Following, liking, retweeting is not endorsement.”
Now... Following, of course, does not have to be endorsement. You may follow someone for the sake of following, to have an idea of what s/he writes about, to see how s/he thinks. You may also follow someone for the sake of watching out.
As for liking... I do not understand how liking something can be non-endorsement. Seriously, if you like something, doesn't it mean you think it is a nice thought? I mean doesn't the definition of liking imply that?
Coming to retweeting... Which is the most used. “Retweeting is not endorsement.”
Okay. I get it. Retweeting does NOT have to be, is not necessarily endorsement. You may find something outrageous and want to share your feeling with the world. You may find something ridiculous and want to share your thought with the world. You may feel and/or think there is something in one tweet, something that is worth opening a debate on, so you might want to share it. Okay... These are all possible non-endorsement cases.
BUT... You've got 116 characters to comment when you are retweeting. If it is one of the cases above, could you please be not lazy enough to just say something like “This is outrageous!” “This is unbelievable!” “Ideas anyone?” “Seems an interesting point, what do you think?”?
I don't know... Maybe I'm missing out on something here. If so, I'd appreciate if somebody -for example somebody who declares s/he is not endorsing with likes and retweets- could enlighten me.
At this point, when people are suffering so much to have a minimum bit of decent life, I feel ashamed to be saying these but this is for those looking from the position “Oh we are the civilized Europe, all the rest of the world is a bunch of third-world countries whose whole population is dying to come here.” (Paradoxically, which actually is literally true. People are dying to come here.)
When I first came here to Italy to live, I was so disappointed at some things. I start with food which is the center of life for all of us and go on to discuss health services, transportation and the bureaucracy. Of course, the food part is in no way to smear Italian cuisine, it is only to make a case in point about the services and to show how one misses small things of home when in a foreign land.
Here, you cannot find food at restaurants apart from certain hours. We are visiting some place, it's 6:30 pm, we are hungry, we want to eat and return, we go into a restaurant and get the answer “The kitchen is not open.” Or if it is lunch time, say we were out busy attending to things to be done, we are starving, we walk into a restaurant and get the answer “The kitchen is closed.”
Why does a restaurant kitchen ever close?!
My husband defends it.: Saying there are certain times of day to eat. See, my husband has this quirk. He even tells if he is hungry by the time.
"Are you hungry?" I ask.
"What time is it?" he asks.
I'm dumbfounded! What do you mean?! What has time got to do with the question I asked. You ask your stomach if you are hungry. You listen to your body, not the watch on your wrist or the cell phone in your pocket or the computer on your desk.
You may be hungry at any time. Or maybe you were working overtime, could not get out of the office for the usual lunch break. The only alternative you have here is to grab a slice of pizza or a sad sorry sandwich. Plus, you have any idea about the prices here?!
I was pregnant and I was craving for soup. I like soup. I've grown up with soup. It's a very common dish on our tables. Be it winter or summer. Soup provides a healthy meal. Whenever you are hungry, you go into any restaurant in Turkey and find some soup to warm you up. Well... This being Italy, I simply could not find soup. We went hunting for restaurants. None had soup. Even the ones who had a menu which listed soup, did not have it. When they had it, it would be a most often times a tasteless "minestra". And it would be 3-5 Euros a plate. I once paid 7 Euros for a simple chicken soup in Dubrovnik! Which came half an hour after I ordered it. Ah, I said Dubrovnik but don't think of it as a posh place in the city center. Some miserable place in the outskirts. In Turkey, you find some nice food in places like that and dirt cheap! They put bread on your table -and by bread I mean bread, not just two slices,- free of charge. You have a bowl of soup for a euro and eat it with bread, you have a cheap meal if you are tight with money.
No Flying Pizzas
Once we were in Naples. Naples is the birthplace of pizza. We wanted to have a nice pizza before returning home to Rome on Sunday evening. We went to "the best" pizza place suggested by our Napoletana friend. Lo and behold, it was closed. We found the number and called. They said they'd be opening at 8 o'clock. That was too late for us. Rome is about 2.5 hours, and we didn't want to be too late. What's more, it was 6 o'clock, we were hungry and did not want to linger that long either. So we called up "the second best". That was closed on Sundays. My husband found out another old and famous one. Hurray! They weren't open but would open at 7 o'clock. By the time, it had been 6:30 anyway. Ten minutes to drive there, we could walk around for twenty minutes, have our pizza and be on our way.
So off we go. Did it open at 7 o'clock? Not really. They opened the door of the restaurant at 7:10 but again lo and behold, the fire was not ready. They were just starting the oven. Nothing to do about it, we sat and ordered our pizzas. People started coming in. We were all waiting. In Turkey, at Ramadan, people sit around the tables waiting for the iftar (the ending of fasting for the day). All types of starters and water is already on the table. When iftar breaks, plates start flying around. I was eagerly waiting for such a similar experience with pizza in Italy. I expected to see pizzas flying around once the oven was heated. Disappointment! No flying pizzas! They came one by one. The waiters brought one bottle of water to one customer, then went in to fetch a pizza for another customer.
And believe me, this is not a one-case. It's mostly the same in Italy. Touristic services are quite low compared to other places and we, as the Turkish, have concluded that they don't care because Italy being Italy, people will be coming to visit anyway.
What about the health services here? Sorry, they suck! In Turkey, I mean İstanbul, but even in the small outskirt public hospitals, when you get a blood exam, you get the results from the Internet the next day. In Rome, we go to a private clinic, pay a huge amount of money, they give you the results in 4-5 days. And most clinics expect you to go there to pick up the results, no Internet service. In this day and age! I'm talking about Rome, a capital city in Europe. I simply couldn't figure it out. So I asked the doctor: "How come it takes 4-5 days for test results here when the same test results take a day in Turkey?"
The doctor could not answer me. He just said "There are different methods of testing."
There was a Croatian nurse next to him; she said "Everything takes longer here."
Ah, don't let me start with the mess we had to deal with for the registration of our marriage! For legal reasons, we were forced to get married in Las Vegas. When I went to the office to get my birth certificate in Turkey, they just entered my ID number and printed it out. I was done in two minutes. When my husband went to the office here to get his birth certificate, they said "Come next month."
Next month! Are you joking? You know what a birth certificate is? It's a paper telling your name, surname, your date and place of birth and your parent's names. That's it! So the Italian government doesn't have that information? It can't retrieve it in two minutes? I'm sure it can if they wanted it, but if you need it as a citizen, that's another story. When my husband asked "Why does it take so long?" the answer at the registration office was "The records are in the basement, we need to go and find them."
Luckily, his family knew someone who worked there, he could get it within a week. And guess what? It was hand-written! A hand-written official paper. In this day and age. And guess what? His name was written wrong! You don't put dots on the i's when they are capital. A government worker doesn't know that?!
Don't let me start about the mistakes they did with my name. They make the mistake and they ask you to pay for that mistake. As if it's not enough that you need to go so many times to correct it. In Turkey, even with a difficult surname like De Vincentiis, they didn't do any mistakes.
What about the transportation here? No, I'm not talking about the airport. Well.. Actually that's a point too. "This is the face you greet foreigners coming to your country," I kept telling my husband for years. A shabby run-down airport. Now, they are rebuilding, hope it's going to improve.
What about the airport services? Whenever we fly to Turkey, we generally find our luggage ready at the checkbelt, whenever we fly back to Italy, we need to wait for half an hour on average. And that is if the luggages have not been taken to a wrong belt in another part of the airport.
What about the public transportation in the city? They are unaware of Akbil (Short for Akıllı Bilet- Smart Ticket.) In İstanbul we use the same magnetic card for every transportation. You can load as much money as you wish and use it whenever you need it. Here, there is no such thing. You may buy a single ticket if you find the kiosk open or if the cafe nextdoor is open.
You can get a monthly/yearly pass, but even that doesn't start whenever you want. I mean you cannot have it from 15th of January to 15th of February. It is by default from the beginning of the month, till the end. My husband gets a yearly subscription. He has a card. But he is expected to carry the receipt around with it. Because they don't know when he got the pass, when it starts. It is a magnetic card but they don't have readers on the trains!
It's total bs. The way it is organized. There isn't a turnpike at the entrance of the train stations and it's not enough that you buy tickets in advance. You need to stamp the ticket before getting on the train. Well... What if you are late, are about to miss the train and don't have the time for it? Do you skip that train and wait for the next one which arrives in an hour or do you just get on without stamping and risk a fine? If there is a control and you get caught, there is a fine. You may have the ticket but it's not valid if you have not stamped it. And there is no place to stamp it once on the train. Sure, you may find the conductor and get him to stamp it. If you can walk all the way up to the front of the train and can spot him. Which would be quite difficult if you are pregnant. So you just don't pay. And you mostly get away with it. Then of course they complain everybody cheats and that the municipality does not have the funds. I mean... Don't these mayors go to other cities or have any idea of how things work in other places?!
Home is where your beloveds are
Italy is one thing. I'm not going into even a comparison of the life and public/private service standards in Turkey and the Baltic States which are in the EU.
I don't especially want to be here. Still... I want to be fair. Even though I'm not going to say "I love it here", I see the nice sides too. You randomly walk into a restaurant in a small village and you are pleasantly surprised at the quality place and the food. There is "puntarelle" here. When we came back from travelling and had pasta with puntarelle, I told my husband "This is worth living in Italy for." I started eating artichokes here. I didn't know its name in Turkish and called it "celeries", I was so indifferent to them before!
I like it here. Mostly because I live in the countryside in self-imposed isolation. And most important of all, because my two daughters were born here and my husband is here. To me, home is my husband and my daughter. Home is wherever they are. And for now, we are here in Rome.
This poster was tweeted by Laura Hammond with the following message:
"Thanks @PrivateEyeNews for clarifying the new EU/Turkey deal. Any questions?"
Seriously? How stuck up can some Europeans be?! Thinking that 75 million Turks would get up and come to live in Europe if they could!
(Just like the Americans thinking/believing the whole population of Mexica is going to invade their country if borders were opened. I'm sorry but such people are so conceited, so arrogant... They put themselves on such a high pedestal. It's incredible.)
I, at least for one, would get up and leave Europe if my husband was not working here. (I have a born Turkish, acquired Italian citizenship.) I'm not sure if I'd go back to Turkey as the climate currently is quite upsetting, but I would definitely spend some of my time in Turkey and the rest in Latin America. Despite everything, Turkey has a lot of good things to offer. I don't need to say it, just ask some of the foreigners who have chosen to live in Turkey and hear them rave about it. (One example I could give is James Taylor who wrote on his FB page after the attacks in Ankara. "Turkey is an amazing country with truly wonderful people. I have never felt more welcome, more happy, more safe than I do here. Ankara is my home, it has been for the last 18 months, and it will continue to be my home." And he is saying this about Ankara! Which is one of the most "dull" places in Turkey if you ask me. Nothing compares to the Bosphorus in İstanbul, the history of Anatolia, the welcoming people and the green of the Black Sea, the blue Mediterrenean waters which unfortunately has now become a graveyard thanks to politicians, the most colorful culture of the South-East, which again unfortunately has become a clashing point.)
Keeping the political situation apart, I find life more modern and "civilized" when it comes to public services in Turkey than here in Italy, a part of Europe. (You may find a detailed analysis here.) You bet there are many people disappointed in Europe, they do not like it here, and prefer to go back home.
Seriously... You don't have the grounds to be so stuck up. Thinking that your country is so great and wonderful. If people come here, it's only because they believe they can find a job and make a living for themselves, not because they want handouts. As John Oliver of “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” says “It's just a little hard to hear these migrants and refugees being called lazy considering how hard many of them have worked to reach Europe in the first place. You want to talk about lazy migrants? I'm a lazy migrant. I left the country by airplane and the only things I was escaping were fog, public indifference and almost certain future as the turtle of Prince Harry's entourage.”
Seriously... Life is not only about public services either. I have Italian friends, Turkish friends living in Brussels. They say the services are top-notch but neither the Italians nor the Turkish like living there, they complain about the coldness of people. But they are there... Because their livelihood is there. Where to live and what to do with life is a very personal balance that every person, every family decides for themselves.
People discussing migration prefer to turn a blind eye to any other kind of movement in the world. As if migration is only about people coming to America and/or Europe. Some see as if that's the whole world. As if there is no movement in any other direction... Just like Chinese Quarters, Little Italys, there are places in the world that look like English or German villages. And there are many people moving around for business reasons or travelling or just retiring overseas. (That's why there are so many “Best places to retire” lists on the Internet.) But of course these are not immigrants. Even the word they use for themselves is different, they are expats. Immigrants are the poors.
Injustice Starts At Birth
There are 193+2 countries in the UN. Have a look here at "The Henry & Partners Visa Restrictions Index 2016 -Global Travel Freedom at a Glance." Holders of US and European passports can travel to about 160-174 countries and territories visa-free or with visa on arrival. That is, most of the world is open to them. Poor Syria ranks 100 on the list with only 32 countries they can travel to without a visa. Somalia, Iraq and Pakistan follow. Afghanistan comes last with only 25 countries open to them visa-free.
The babies, babies... I cannot stress the word BABY enough here... are discriminated according to the geographical area they happened to be born in. What is the merit of a baby born in Europe and America, what is the crime of a baby born in the latter countries that there is a huge difference in the portion of the world accesible to them?
Ahh... It's the womb lottery. Right. I see... Nothing we can do about it. (!) (Note for those who do not get it: The exclamation mark in paranthesis implies irony.)
To have an idea of the ridiculousness of this practice please see "A Visa Comedy- A Case for the Abolition of Visas" and please read all the way down to the "Tragedy Part of the Story."
To see how wonderful it would be, making life easier for both sides if visas were removed, refer here.
People may wish to go some place for different reasons, they go and come back, they move around. Mobility is a natural part of life. It is (should be!) a birthright to go anywhere one wishes on the earth you are born. Asking questions like "Why don't they go to the Gulf countries?" for Syrian and other refugees/migrants is ridiculous. Especially when nobody asks "What is McDonalds doing in Africa? Why doesn't it stay in America?" Nobody asks what all the British in Kalkan, Antalya doing there. Seriously, why don't they stick to x-colonies at least if they're going to resettle? For further analysis, see my "Oh People... Stay Put" article.
Of course, people who have 160-174 countries to visit at their disposal do not care much. They do not care to visit the few that require visas from them anyway. But Freedom of movement is either for everyone or none!
Europeans, Americans, that is the Western world needs to decide on one thing: Either we, I mean you, the leaders in the UN club issue a global decree saying "From now on, everybody stays put wherever they are. People are only allowed to move within a 100 km (or you may make it a 1000 km) diameter circle."
You do the right and just thing. As it should be... You issue a decree saying "We understand and accept that requirement of visas for people to travel from one place to another on the world they were born, i.e. restriction of people's free movement, has been a most unfair and unjust practice. From today on, we put an end to this global injustice. We announce to the world that Visa practices are ABOLISHED!"
And the whole world applauses with a standing ovation.*
* Well... I know the whole world will not applause. Some will curse and rebel. But don't worry. They'll get used to it.**
** We wouldn't need a war to abolish slavery today, we are civilized, aren't we? We are not like some "barbaric" Middle-Easterners or "backward" Africans, we are a part of the civilized world.
Or are we?
After the sharing of University and Migrants, I got to thinking. Thinking is something I do often, it's a habit. People share such things but WHY doesn't anyone share what I write on the world and borders? Even the people who follow me and who agree with the things I say stay at the “like” level, nobody retweets or shares. This topic is so overlooked!
I mean refugees and their suffering, criticizing the deals about them etc. are shared. They should be shared of course. But why is it so taboo when I say that visas are a worldwide injustice, #InjusticeAtBirth? Why do I always seem to fall on deaf ears?
I thought about that too of course. I tried to put myself in other people's shoes. Everybody has a certain audience, everybody has a style they share. And the topics that someone identifies himself with determines that style. And nobody really identifies himself with borders being removed as barriers of movement like I do. People stick to certain identities. For example, people sharing the video mentioned are probably those against the current government. They have to react to whatever the government does. Without evaluation of good and bad, without analyzing like me about why they did it, what kind of results it would lead to etc. This doesn't mean I approve everything the Turkish government does. Nooo! Even though you may find some things somebody does very unacceptable, it is shameful to be against everything they do without thinking. Give the devil his due.
“Some call it a crime to cross an imaginary line (which they've designated) without some papers (which again they've designated)... I call it a crime to set up borders to block people from going places on the planet they were born,” I wrote on FB. I got a couple of “like”s. The friend who shared the above video commented “Exactly what I have always thought.” Eh if you have always thought so, why don't you share it? You share that video, why does my post stays at only the “like”?
I asked her. I seriously wanted to know. I have to figure it out so that I can disseminate the idea. Otherwise, I'll keep on trying to dig the well with a needle.
She didn't have an answer either. Just because...
So what can I do about it? Should I come up with slogans like....
“Like” but SHARE too!
Please “Retweet” on Twitter, “Share” on Facebook!
“Like” is not enough, it's essential to “Share”!
Taking Your Side
People share it when this topic is at another level. As we all know, refugees is the “popular” topic of our day. Even if it's not pop, it is a topic on the forefront due its always being on the news and its immediacy, its humanitarian side. Looks like there are two positions you can hold on this topic. One is saying “We don't want them.” Here, there are two different ways of saying this. One is “Even if they're refugees, we don't want them. This is our country, it's our continent, all these people coming are scum, lazy, wanting to live on hand-outs, they need to be sent back, they need to be shot.” And you can be sure there are people who are saying exactly these. Openly, even on sites like The Economist which is supposed to be an elite, “classy” place, they say “I'm going to get a gun and shoot them.” The others are a bit more gentle. “We would have liked to accept them, we understand they are fleeing war, we would have done the same had we been in their place, but we don't have the room, we are already in a bad situation ourselves, our resources are limited. We are very sorry,” they say.
On the other hand are the good-hearted. They say things like “Refugees welcome. We have an obligation to help. This is our moral task, responsibility,” etc. Good that they do. But it is inadequate. This discourse FALLS SHORT. Why is there so few of us who say, who put themselves on the frontline and say “This should not only be restricted to refugees. It is a worldwide injustice to block people from going somewhere on the planet they are born just because of the imaginary line they happened to be born in!”? Why?
Do people see that as a threat to their very existence? Is that their fear?
And why do I identify myself so much with this topic? I know the answer. Because I know firsthand how it is against human dignity. I know it, because I lived it, I felt it under my skin.
I felt it when I was made to run around for so many papers, I was made to make flight and hotel reservations that were to be cancelled afterwards, I was made to cough up money after money... All I wanted was to travel the world.
I felt it when I was refused by many cargo ship companies because of my passport, then made to sign a paper saying “I accept my bodily cavities being searched.”... All I wanted was to cross the Pacific Ocean on a cargo ship.
I felt it when the meddlesome check-in attendant made me run around crazy at the airport when missing that flight would have had a domino-effect on all my plans... All I wanted was to stay a couple of days in Dominic and get on a cruiser to go my way.
I felt it when I was returned from the Panamian border... All I wanted was to go and see a place for a couple of days.
I felt it when I had to risk getting rabies and dying a horrible death, I cried my eyes out out of exhaustion and desperation... All I wanted was to get out of Costa Rica and land someplace else where I could get vaccination.
I felt it when I went to the Greek Embassy in Rome to apply for a visa and was told I had to fly to Turkey to get it... All I wanted was to get to Turkey from Italy by sea.
I felt it when I was threatened with a 600 USD fine and a “persona non grata”- “unwanted person” stamp in my passport... All I wanted was to go back to my country from Rhodos, three hours away.
I felt it when I was asked for so many papers, belittled, turned around like a rat in a maze... All I wanted was to be with the man I loved, with the man whose baby I carried in my womb.
I didn't feel this rebellion only on my behalf. I felt it seeing people asked for so many papers and so much money at the consulate... All they wanted was to go back to their families. I felt it when I saw everybody found this extortion as normal, natural. I felt it when I heard the obstacles put in front of people when they wanted to go back to their country, where they were born, to their sister's wedding or to visit their mother in her dying bed. I felt it when I read a Pakistani father who hung himself because English migration laws had a special clause for minors to stay in England, and he wanted his son to have a life.
I felt and still feel these so deep, so from the bottom of my heart that when I think of these people whom I have not known, who have no “importance” whatsoever in my life, of what they have lived, tears silently start rolling down my cheeks. Deep wounds are so, you know? They are silent. Because you do not even have the power to cry out, to rebel. Life has dealt such a blow to you. These are such pains. Certain people of power and position deal you such a blow. It's bitter, it's very bitter what man does to man. These are such pains. A volcano has no intention of getting your life when it erupts, it has no secret agenda. Natural disasters do not discriminate you according to the imaginary line you were born in, your race, your religion, your color. It's bitter that man is made to be more scared of man, a creature like himself, rather than nature. It's bitter... Very bitter.
I did not only see the photo of Aylan's little corpse lying on the beach, I saw photos of babies whose diapers were pulled away, whose bodies were tossed around. I no longer need to see photos of people crossing a river in Macedonia, trying to go from one place to another in the Greek Islands, living in damp muddy camps. I know. These photos have been ingrained in my brain. These pains are lived every day. This torture is exercised every day. Moreover, it is done “legally”; moreover, it is done as having been inured even by most of the migrants themselves. It is easy to damn people dropping bombs. The essential hard thing to do is to question the “right”s that we've become inured to and curse them.
Don't people see that categorizing people according to the borders they were born in is a global injustice? Why don't they see it? Or why is this such a taboo?
Please let's pull down this taboo! Let's put an end to these sights that are a disgrace on human dignity, that make people set up walls/fences, which lead to such unnecessary suffering, rips the hearts of people like us, those who have a bit of a conscience, to be able to sit comfortably in their houses. Please... Please put an end to these sights.