The thing about having been to 22 countries is that it has caused me to have a more global perspective. I seem to take international news much more personally than a lot of people I know. In a time when there is so much violence in the world, this can be a bit overwhelming.
While I recommend travel highly, sometimes I truly wish I could “only” be morally outraged when things occur in my homeland. It would be so much easier if places like Turkey were abstract concepts to me, so that their tragedies would not feel like they were my own. But I genuinely don’t find the death of someone on the other side of the world to be any less horrendous than the death of someone right down the street. Every person on the planet has value, in my opinion.
When I heard about the coup attempt in Turkey, I was instantly transported back to 2009 when I had wandered some of the same streets where much of the violence has occurred. I remember standing on that very bridge across the Bosphorus in Istanbul, the one that links Europe with Asia. I was awed by the history, the beauty, the pivotal location. I felt so lucky to be standing there. Little old me! It hurts my heart to see the pictures of tanks on that very spot.
I also recall walking through Taksim Square, listening to the hauntingly beautiful call to prayer while peacefully taking pictures. I can’t imagine what I would have done if jets started buzzing overhead and shots had rung out. I’m sure I would have been terrified and confused and outraged.
I can’t speak to the politics of the coup attempt in Turkey. I don’t know who should be in power or how. It does seem as though the people have spoken rather definitively, but the situation is no doubt much more complex than I can understand from such a remove. All I know is that I long for the kind of peace in that amazing land that I had the good fortune to experience, and I shed tears for the many lives that have been lost by the lack thereof.
Update 7/29/16–I said above that the people seem to have spoken, but after what I’ve been reading in the aftermath of this tragedy, I’m no longer sure. I am very disturbed by the human rights violations that are now going on. Innocent people are being taken into custody, and institutions, including schools, are being shut down. Peaceful protesters are now afraid to speak out. While I still cannot speak to the politics of this situation, I am concerned, and am beginning to think there is even more reason to cry now for this wonderful country and its people.