With the tsunami sweeping the eastern terrain and oppressive regimes domino-ing the Arab world it is a highly sombre time for everyone right now. Whilst some predict that the world is coming to an end and nestle into deep inquisition, others search for reasons, explanations and solutions to the corrupting global problems.
With casualties on the rise in Libya and the death toll increasing in Japan it is a difficult time to remain optimistic whilst watching the traumatic scenes and sufferings of those affected. The world sits still in front of their flickering screens listening to the screaming voices of the mothers of the martyred in despair and hopelessness. At such times it is neither creed nor colour which distinguishes that lost soul on our screens from the one which weeps within.
So why do we wait until such dire times to show support and humanity? Does it take a war or an earthquake to sympathise with the suffering?
There is no doubt that most countries have gone to war at some point in history, experiencing similar barbaric assaults from opposing military attacks and regimes. Lives have been lost, hearts have been wounded and victims have been oppressed. If we were to hold grudges against all who fought and battled in war would there be anybody left to befriend in this world?
Societies protest against governments and powerful forces for social justice and consensus. Whilst some hold banners pleading for democracy and civil liberties, others chant from roof tops for human rights and equality. But how far are these put into practice? Do we skew the definitions of these social rights once they have been given to us? Do we treat all human beings with equal empathy and respect?
Most would agree that the core principles of humanity are to respect, value and understand each other regardless of faith, ethnicity, creed or colour, the most important and undeniable truth being that we are all human beings. If this is the common consensus then why is there still so much injustice and indifference in the world?
Coming from a Turkish Cypriot background when meeting people on first instance it is the same three questions that I am quizzed on. What will happen with the Cyprus issue? Will Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots ever reunite? And will Northern Cyprus ever join the EU? For those whom are unfamiliar with the Cyprus issue, it is an ongoing dispute whether the northern (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus) and Southern (Republic of Cyprus) can come to a mutual agreement about the future of Cyprus. There have been numerous meetings and a referendum resolving pretty much nothing at all.
Recently I was watching a TV documentary on a Cypriot channel about a village located on the eastern part of the island called Pile (Turkish) Pyla (Greek). It is the only settlement in Cyprus inhabited by both Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot inhabitants. Whilst the rest of the country has lived on segregated sides of the wall which partitioned the Island after the war in 1974, this village remained undivided still to this day homing neighbouring streets to both ethnic groups.
Whilst I have never visited Pile/Pyla before and may not be knowledgeable enough to criticize the dialogue which happens within the village, one thing which is apparent is that these two historically ‘torn’ communities have been living prosperously together whilst the rest of the country has been screaming names at each other from either side of the fence.
I think we can all learn a thing or two about tolerance from those who live in Pile/Pyla. And if all else fails… “Always forgive your enemies, nothing annoys them so much” Oscar Wilde
*The ideas expressed in this column are solely the opinions of the author and not necessarily of the Dialogue Society