A good end cannot sanctify evil means; nor must we ever do evil, that good may come of it... We are too ready to retaliate, rather than forgive... And yet we could hurt no man that we believe loves us. Let us try then what love will do: for if men did once see we love them, we should soon find they would not harm us. Force may subdue, but Love gains: and he that forgives first, wins the laurel.
William Penn

Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations wherever you come; that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone...
George Fox

Monday, January 21, 2013

In Istanbul: A Sıgn; Centering Down; Remembering Hrant Dink

A Sign to Sit Still for Awhile

Just a few nights ago I was camping on the outskirts of Istanbul, in a little green gorge surrounded above by small, ramshackle homes and automobile garages. The water in the little brook that flowed past our campsite was  dirty grey, and it stank a bit. I also stank a bit. As always when camping, in the morning it was time to move on.
Today I am in the north part of the city, in a large apartment that I have to myself, stocked with the food my host has bought for me. I now have all  the modern comforts of life. I can take all the hot showers I want, for example. And it seems I will be here for a while, thanks to the generosity of my host, Bigem.

An anonymous  reader of one of my recent posts, responding to my asking for a sign as to what I should do next, asked in return, "What good is a sign if you are blind?"
An offer to stay for an extended period in Istanbul is surely a sign to sit still for awhile. I am not so blind as to reject this offer.
But this anonymous commenter is right; while I am here I will have to improve my vision.
As the blind man said in Mark 8:24, "I see men, but they look like trees."

Sitting Still; to Watch TV or to Center Down?

Inge, in the center of Istanbul, has told me she needs to "center down" for a bit. In order to center down, she may be leaving the center of Istanbul for a little while.
Inge has picked up this Quaker expression for finding a calm, quiet and receptive state of mind from my occasional exclamations that "I gotta center down!", usually made when I am in an agitated state, which is far too often for a so called "peace pilgrim."
I must be careful to use this time I've been given to center down.

Remembering Hrant Dink

While staying with my first hosts in Istanbul, where I liked to sit on the balcony watching the ships going through the Bosporus, we all decided to join the annual walk through the city to remember Hrant Dink.
Our hosts, Akşa and Erçan, met with friends of theirs in Taksim Square, and the lot of us caught the Metro to the street where thousands had gathered to remember the Turkish-Armenian journalist who was shot dead 6 years ago by a young Turkish nationalist. Dink had often criticised the Turkish government for denying the past genocide of Armenians. This criticism was aimed at reconciling Turks and minority Armenians, but resulted in his murder by a young man who opposes such reconciliation.
There is good evidence, however, that this man did not act alone; that some in the Turkish government may have been responsible for his murder; so many, if not most of those attending the walk were there not only to remember Dink, but to demand justice.
As we walked with the crowd towards the office building where Dink had edited for the newspaper Agos, they chanted, "We are all one, we are all Armenians." Dink had been shot in front of the same building, and thousands gathered there to hear speeches and demands for justice from speakers in the offices above. The rain began to fall in time for a moving violin solo, which for me said it all. A man who had worked tirelessly for peace and reconciliation had been murdered by those who are threatened by the prospects of peace. But those who want peace were the ones all around me, standing in the rain and cold, and they represented hope in the face of the terrible crime that happened here.

Meanwhile, as this violin played and the rain fell, I was for a minute or two, centered down.

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