Why doesn't this war end?
That was the question.
The answer so simple: Because people still insist on believing in countries and borders, because nations/races are not seen as different cultures and richnesses but as groups serving to differentiate between “us” and “them”, because there is a concept like “things to kill and die for.” That's why.
Because man is greedy, because there is “evil”, more or less, in his leaven/brew, because he likes to reign, he wants to dominate. That's why all wars in the world are.
Plus, there is something called property.
In “modern” western societies and most others as well, the foundation of property rests on exchange/barter or mostly being bought with a commodity called money, and by inheritance. If we have paid money to buy something we take it that it belongs to us/ we believe that that thing is “ours”. Luckily, the people we are in contact with in general share this view and we don't have a conflict of concept.
However, according to an Indian, property is mostly a concept appertaining to use. If you have something in your house that you do not use, an Indian does not see any problem to take it to his household. The white man would accuse him with “theft” but his answer is ready: “You weren't using it.” He reasons like this: “If somebody is not using something, it doesn't belong to him; and anybody who needs it can get it.”
Thus, what he has done, does absolutely not go into the category of theft. Whereas in our society the same act is considered as theft; as a crime to be punished. When you see these two contradictory understandings you start doubting -or you should start doubting!-, you feel the need to -if you do not, you should feel the need to!- question your concepts like theft and property. This is one of the many benefits of travel too: makes one fine tune his beliefs and perceptions. Makes one question the things he has learnt until that day, things he believed were absolute and final truths; it makes one doubt. Yes, I might have the registry, it could be legally mine, but maybe what I don't use does not actually belong to me.
Personally I am in favor of adopting the Indian's perception of property. All along my life I have thought that things belonged to people who liked them more and would use them more. I have often taken off and given a necklace, a jumper etc. when somebody said “That's nice.” If it didn't have a special significance for me, I did not have any difficulty to say “Take it, it is yours.”
Especially if a piece is not in daily use, it had to go to somebody who would put it to better use. With this reasoning, I have given away more valuable things than simple jewellery and clothes, giving up my possessions. When a friend said he'd be buying a music set I said “Wait, I'll give it to you.” Yes, I was listening to it once in a while but I knew my friend would be using it more often and value it more than me, that music meant more to him than me. Did somebody need a wardrobe, a couch, I said “If you want, get mine.” This way, things I had that had accumulated of their own accord in time slowly diminished. And as I got older, the number of things I felt a possession for in life dwindled.
Perhaps because I grew up in a family that couldn't manage to be “us” I never felt I belonged anywhere. When I was left alone at a young age and had to learn to stand up on my own, singularity set in me. “Us” was a bit foreign to me. And perhaps for the same reason, foreigners were not that “foreign.”
There must also have been something wrong with the part of my brain that had the ability to sort people out by their nationalities. Hence, I went around in various geographies of the world, made friends from all kinds of nationalities without any judgement. Although I have always been proud of my culture and the wisdom of our ancestors in our proverbs, I never owned being Turkish, never put that definition on which I had no contribution, or as a matter of fact, no choice either, at the center of my identity.
Growing up among family fights had isolated me from the consciousness of society as well. I could compete with a 6 year-old in being apolitic until I was 35. For example PKK... Ok, I had learnt from official declarations that it was a terrorist organization, they kill people, but “What for?”, that I had never thought of. Likewise, I had no idea which group it represented. Media and society could not indoctrinate that much in me. I could not come to the Kurdish part of the alphabet. Uneasiness and fear of Kurds, or hostility towards them had not been inoculated in me. Thus, Kurds were no different than any populace of the world. Classifying people according to their nationalities is already unknown... Some concepts, if they are not inseminated until a certain age, after that, you cannot espouse it much I guess.
There once was a man in a town among towns. Was a lot his property and estates, his titles and reputation, he had inns and taverns and Turkish baths, children and grandchildren. He was also healthy and even happy.
There was another man far among faraways. Didn't have this or that, diamonds or other. But he was healthy and happy too.
The man who had everything got curious about the man who had nothing. His name was mentioned among friends' circles. This is curiosity, doesn't stay in the glass like water, makes a man hit the roads. As this was the circumstance, our man left his comfy and warm home, to visit the man who had nothing.
When he arrived, he saw the man he was looking for sitting in a naked room with a few worn out furniture and clothes. After an exchange of greetings he asked timidly, “May I ask your permission to ask you a question?”
Well, this was a question already but he didn't seem to be aware. And the estimable reverence didn't seem to mind, he nodded solemnly.
Apparently, our man was to ask “Where are your possessions?”
It's not good etiquette to answer a question with a question but the reverence reflected a mirror and asked:
“Where are yours?”
Surprised was “the man with so much”... Wasn't it obvious? Still, he answered the question not to compromise his manner.
“I'm a passerby, I've come and I'll be going.”
The one with nothing answered as if he was waiting for this reply:
“I am a passerby too in this world, I've come and I'm going.”
As I did not have a concept of possession travelling the world, I did not have a concept of owning land. Thus, years ago when I heard that the Kurds wanted land, that they wanted to found their own country, I said “So we give it to them” without a moment of hesitation.
The friend, trying to explain me, i.e. an ignorant child, the world of big people said “How can that be! Land is indivisible.”
“Why?” is my favorite question. I asked.
My friend didn't answer right away, it was as if he wanted me to find the answer myself. Eh, that didn't take long. “Haaa!” said I two seconds later. Just like one does when s/he apprehends something all of a sudden…
“Of course there are places to visit, natural beauties there, we wouldn't want to give those away.”
Now, thinking about this answer of mine I smile on one side and am astonished on the other. Because now I am aware what a naive logic to make fun of this is for an adult. I still have trouble perceiving political concepts but now I have an idea how other people's minds work. At that time what I had said seemed so logical and true to me- that I was so sure it would be the same for everybody, you cannot imagine! This could be the only explanation for saying “Land is indivisible.”
What else does somebody want land for?
You'll want to go and visit that place... Eh, when we want to do that we wouldn't want to have to deal with getting a visa, we'd want to go easily, that's why we don't want to give land away. Well, my mind only works that much. Whatever is in the dervish's mind, that is his word. The girl's mind works indexed to travelling, not possessing land.
“There are nice places to visit and see there, we wouldn't want to give them away.”
Yes, I am now aware it is an odd logic. But wish everybody saw land as a place to wander over...
Or a place to be buried under one day.
Hrant Dink, the Armenian journalist killed in daylight on a crowded street in Istanbul had said “Yes, we covet the land of this country. We covet, but not to rip off and take it away. We covet to be buried deep down this land.”
Yes, I covet too! Not only this country, but every bit of land in the world. I covet but not to possess... To live on it for some time. I covet even every square centimeter of land in the world... To walk on it, to have set foot on it.
Even though the contemporary political world order has turned it into this... The Earth is not a place to be parceled into countries and forbidden to people who themselves, their parents or spouses have not been born there or let in on conditions; it is a land as a whole, to be lived and traveled on for some time and then buried under.
Note: I have written this article about a decade ago. Now I have a much different life. Thanks to my husbandish, I accumulated back more things than I had given out. Whenever I suggest giving away something, he looks at it and shakes his head. I live a bit crowded. On the other hand, back then, I obviously didn't see the point or meaning of "owning" a land one didn't live on. (I still cannot say I see it.) The principle of “Land is indivisible", the concept of "wholeness of land" was foreign to me like other concepts. And apparently, that hasn't changed either. I see the world as a whole, then I look at the countries and borders and see it as "The land has already been divided." I cannot get what indivisibility they are talking about when they have divided it themselves.