Sunday, November 15, 2015 5:45 pm ·  1 Comment
I have visited Turkey on a number of occasions, meeting wonderful people, experiencing and appreciating culture and food, engaging in business and helping people in the work they do. Laughing, talking, touring, I love Turkey and their people, they are some of the most kindest and most passionate people I know.
I want to share a message I received on Facebook from my friend who lives in Istanbul, Turkey. His name is Altan Ercili. A message which had us chatting and then had me deeply thinking.
“Just 6 weeks ago, 103 people died in Turkey’s capital Ankara, with a terrorist bomb. 80% of the people who died were between the age of 18 and 21. And in the last 2 months, more than 400 people have died because of terrorism attacks in Turkey, including soldiers, police and citizens by the terrorists of PKK. The French Government still doesn’t believe that PKK is a terrorist group. Apparently the Turkish people know that French Government supports the PKK.”
I had no idea as I had not heard of any terrorist attacks in Turkey as of recent, like I have heard in the past 2 days in Paris. He went on to say:
“You can learn maybe. Since 1981, 35,000 people have died in Turkey because of terrorism. You know our people, you know our country…but I am ashamed to say that strong and big countries like yours, England, France, Germany etc. always support terrorism in the Middle East. I believe it is because they want the oil here, as well they sell weapons to the Muslim community. In Iraq 1,300,000 people died when the US attacked and 700,000 were children. I am sure 99% of Americans don’t know about that. And maybe 99% of Americans don’t even know where Iraq is in the world. I am sorry to say that, but these are the truths.”
He went on and shared information with me that only one who lives and breaths the beauty of his country and culture would know and feel. And although passionate about Turkey, I somehow felt his pain and frustration as we chatted with one another. I did not know how to respond. I felt ashamed to not have known what he and the people of Turkey had been experiencing. Where was the news, the coverage, the social media support system, the global prayers, the speeches from Presidents and Prime Ministers, the world meetings, the stories shared? Have we become so conditioned into believing that only certain lives matter?
Although I have only seen the good and the positive so often shared from my friends on Facebook, I can understand how the Turkish people feel today. To live in fear, in judgement and in uncertainty all at once, especially when the world offers no support in light of the terrorism they experience in their country and have experienced in the past. Do their lives not matter?
The questions from my friend Altan were, “Did you hear about the bomb that killed 103 people just 5 weeks ago? Or you didn’t hear about it? It appears to be terrorism when the French die, yet it is not Terrorism when the Turkish die?”
All of a sudden, I felt a heavy burden sitting on my shoulders, my heart ripped apart, because of all the support I have been offering the Parisians, when in fact I should have been offering half to my friends in Turkey. There lives matter too. PEOPLE’S LIVES all over the world matter. To all countries affected by terrorism, the world stands with you.
In the end, I learned how much I enjoyed my chat with Altan yesterday afternoon, learning more about life, people and global issues like never before, and all from a little chat room in Facebook. I don’t think I could have ever learned so much in my own community. Thank you Altan. I appreciate you.