Yes, perhaps that is true. Many crimes in the world have been committed with the claim and ambition to make the world a better place. Still... Does that mean we are supposed to just watch and be only a witness to all the wrong workings of the world even if that wrong is wrong according to us and may be relative?
We change ourselves while trying to change the world.
"I don't know what you're thinking, sugar
But I just got that feeling, sugar
And I can hear the sirens burning
Red lights turning
I can't turn back now."
says David Guetta.
I can't turn back either!
Walking the streets of Beirut, I was thinking of the guilty stamps.
When I went to Israel, I was interrogated at the airport. They had gone through my passport and sure enough, noticed some Arabic stamps. They showed them to me and asked which country those stamps belonged to. I said “How am I supposed to know? They're written in Arabic, I cannot read Arabic.” Had they written the dates in Latin, I could have guessed where I was at the time but even the numbers were in Arabic, so I was clueless.
They asked which Arab countries I had been to, and I answered. Then they asked if I had talked to Egyptians while I was there, if I made friends there. You see, I was in Israel to go to the wedding of an Israeli couple I had met travelling in the East of Turkey. I had even played a role in their marriage, or rather the marriage proposal. I had told them that the tradition is to go on a boat trip on the Bosphorus and propose getting down on your knees while the boat is under the bridge. So Amir did exactly that. They, of course, invited me to the wedding. As the two immigration officers asked about the details of my story like:
-why had my friends not come to pick me up from the airport?
“Why should they, they are busy with wedding plans, I can go on my own. I'm a grown up.”
- where is the wedding?
“Here is the invitation, see for yourself.”
- so where is it?
“How should I know?? That invitation is in Hebrew! You are the Israelis, not me.”
- do you have any Arab friends?
I do not remember how I answered that question. I must have said that I of course have talked to Arabs and know some people, or something of the sort. Or I might have told them I did not distinguish people according to their citizenships.
I'm immune from the wrong classification syndrome. I do not judge people according to the place they were born.
Well... Perhaps this national self-identity and putting people in boxes according to where they are born is really a disease. Or a mental disorder. Or a mass insanity. Or a worldwide epidemic. Something that has infected most people on earth.
But there has to be a cure for it. I should make a call to scientists to come up with a vaccine against this so very ubiqutious disease.
This is art from the streets of Beirut. I should be making a special edition "Street Art from Around the World."
One day, when I have the time!
“Sharpen your knife after a victory.”
Because the defeated will be attacking soon. That's the way it happens.
You sharpen your knives after a defeat too. So as to attack. The end result: Sharpen your knives ad infinitum...
As Gandhi said it so succinctly: “An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.”
So that's where we are headed: Towards a blind world.
Žižek tells a Slovenian joke: A genie appeared and told the Slovenian that he'd grant anything he wished. The only thing is... “I'll be doing twice as much to your neighbor,” the genie said.
So what does the Slovenian ask for?
“Take out one of my eyes.”
This may be funny as a joke. It's not so funny at all, on the contrary, it's very grave when that's really what most people want. Jealousy and revenge are strong feelings with a drive towards harm. We cannot go on with this. An arms race on one hand, a security race on the other. One needs to stop.
Come on humanity, grow up.
And hurry up!
Going to Beirut I kept reminding myself that I needed to get my Turkish passport. That's the precious one that doesn't require a visa to Lebanon.
Then I said “Oh, I'll be needing the Italian too.” To enter into Italy. I might have just used my Italian ID for that but got my passport as well. Just in case.
And good thing I did. I had not thought I'd be needing the Italian passport to exit as well. You see, nowadays there are these machine readable passports. You show it to a machine and walk through the immigration control, it's a breeze. Otherwise there's a long que.
I couldn't help but think... I'm the same person. But I have to think about which of my identities suit the country or the authority I'll be dealing with and present one or the other accordingly. Even though I'm not cheating, they're driving me to hypocrisy, forcing me into a double identity.
I am the same person. But it's not who you are, it's the papers you carry that are respected.
I got in line at the immigration at Beirut Airport. The line of “Other nationalities.”
It was progressing slowly. But time passes. Finally, it was my turn. The guy, that is the immigration officer, took my passport. Checked the main page, then started thumbing through all the other pages.
“That's a Turkish passport,” I felt the need to say. “I don't have a visa.”
Oh, what a wrong assumption! He wasn't looking for a visa, he was after something else.
“Do you have an Israeli stamp?” he asked.
I guess I look like someone who could have been to Israel. In fact, I have been there.
But “No,” I said, “I don't have a stamp.”
Which is true. I do not have a stamp.
They don't ask you if you've been to Israel, they ask if you have a stamp. It's the show.
I don't know if I would have lied if they asked if I had been there. And what if I had the stamp? What would they do? I guess put me on the plane and send me back.
These things are so strange. The hypocrisy behind it. Is that what politics is? Politics is hypocrisy. Or at best, it's synonymous with hypocrisy.
They, that is the Israelian government knows there are countries who do not allow you in if you have an Israeli visa; so they don't issue the visa on your passport, they issue it on a separate piece of paper. Which you, or perhaps they themselves duly remove on leaving the country. The same was true for Cuba as the US didn't like those who went there. But of course it's not only the visa, the entrance and exit stamps also play a role. An American friend said that she was turned back from Syria even though she had a visa. They usually go through your passport before issuing the visa at the embassy, but they must have skipped it; while the immigration officer at the border noticed an entry stamp from I don't remember the place now but the logic was “If you have entered this country from this port, you must have been coming from Israel.”
It's not important if you have been to a place, just mind the stamps. Stamps are the Gods of government officials.
“Had I read this piece before yours I would have said 'Wooow! Oxford professors are doing such a nice thing.'”
Well... To me, the premise of the status quo, the fact that people may be “not allowed” to Work (because of their “immigration” status) is so ridiculous that I fumed at the Guardian article by two Oxford professors taking it seriously and trying to argue for “allowing” people to work.
“You are on top of a mountain waving your hand 'Heeey! Come over here!'” Carlo went on. “But there are steps to get there. Not everybody can make it up there. You are like Shackleton. You have made it, good for you. But people will need time.”
“Eh okay, but take those steps quick,” I replied. “People are just lingering, wasting time trying to differentiate refugees and migrants, arguing international obligations. We need to get past all this nonsense and take pro-active action.”
“Even what the Oxford professors argue will not happen,” said Carlo. So I was basically asking for too much, for the impossible.
Well... If theirs isn't happening either, mine is better. Stretches people's minds. Besides, I don't believe I'm the dreamer, the real dreamers are those who believe things will stay the same while our world is changing.
And mine is a shortcut. I have found the shortcut to the mountaintop, no need to go through all those stages. Take that leap of faith. At least mentally and belief-wise. Then we think about how to make it happen, how to turn freedom of movement to reality.
I was thinking... I am disappointed in people. And whenever I am disappointed, I first feel like giving up. Then, I come back with more vengeance, with more vigor and energy. I am more determined to succeed and make happen the thing I couldn't.
Still... I believe it's not us who make things happen. Perhaps not resignation but having trust (in God or in Life) is the only thing to do.
Okay, I know I am in this for the long haul. All the same, one wants and needs some small satisfactions along the way, be it a retweet or sharing of a post you deem important, be it a short message from a friend you have not heard from for so long, or someone you have never met.
I do not live for or live with “Like”s, I do not aim for applause. Still, it doesn't hurt to be recognized for your work once in a while.