We Are All Istanbulites

In this picture you see the bus that the protesters on Taksim Square used as a shield agains the water canons of the riot police. Since the police has stopped using violence the bus is transformed into a library.

Luang Prabang, Laos.

I am still in awe about the message I received from my Turkish friend Eda Bozköylü yesterday. She let me know she is fine, not in danger. She has been protesting together with her friends and thousands of other young Turks in Istanbul and – by now – in 70 other Turkish cities. I heard news about the riot police coming down hard on the youngsters and I felt concerned.

What I did not see coming was to receive a message filled with bliss and peace (read it if you haven’t yet!). Otherworldly almost and that was indeed the word Eda used as well. “Taksim doesn’t belong to earth anymore” she wrote. And: “Taksim is another planet, Atalwin. I wish you to experience it.”

I was writing about it yesterday and as I am nearing the end I felt a bit stuck. At that very moment her Whatsap message gave notice of its arrival, providing me with the perfect last paragraph. This is in itself nothing less than a miracle to me.

The second miracle was that her message did not only give me an ending, it really gave me an answer. My starting point was the message I received from a buddy: “life is definitely too short for persisting anger”. But how to reconcile that message with “fighting for freedom”? I guess that deep down I am still a bit of a brawler and my focus narrows when I hear the word “fighting”: I get ready to kick ass. What I learned yesterday was that the brave boys and girls on Taksim Square are giving their suppressive government the finger by expressing and showing love, peace and harmony. But that is just a side effect. They give each other hope, support, love and courage. Their love is stronger than the tear gas of the riot police. What a perfect answer!

In every situation, no matter how difficult, we can come back to our humanity. We can ask ourselves what Mr. Mandela would do. Or Jesus. Or Ghandi. We can find kindness and dignity in our own hearts and we can ask inspiring examples of wisdom and compassion for help by imagining how they would respond. But in all honesty, I don’t think the protesters went through such a conscious process, there on Taksim Square. I think their humanity just surfaced and showed its most beautiful face when it was needed and appropriate. The cool thing is – and this is my lesson for today – that the human response is more inspiring than the violent response! Yeah, it might be adrenaline pumping to win a round against the riot police but this is so much better! I love it!

I a way Eda’s message sounds like a spontaneous spiritual awakening of a whole group at once. Everybody starts behaving in an enlightened manner, people have stopped being self serving and started serving the whole. Being selfish seems useless and meaningless. The fear has gone. Trust and faith have taken over. People experience oneness. The energy flows effortlessly. Pretty much exactly what happens when somebody goes though a process of spiritual transformation.

When I was in Istanbul last year I learned about the covert unfreedom and suppression from the government and the increase of Islamic power. On the surface it looks like a modern city but the friends I made there told me that if I would have lived there they would warn me not to speak my mind in the way I do. That really struck me. I don’t consider myself political. I talk about potential and living from the heart and emotions and shit. “My blog is so innocent!” I thought. I realized for the first time what it must be like to be unfree.

Now the same people who warned not to speak too enthusiastically about freedom and liberation are expressing their freedom and liberation together and in the most fascinating way! Obviously I am very interested in what the media have to say. I was quite shocked to find out how Turkish president Erdogan speaks of terrorists, hooligans and extremists. I wonder how it feels to violate the truth so blatantly. It must really hurt his soul.

It doesn’t seem to happen in real life but how cool would it be if a leader like Erdogan would respond to this situation with: “you know what? You guys are right. I will cancel the building of another mosque and a shopping mall in the park you love. I got a bit lost in my power trip. I apologise”.

I really whish the enlightened youth of Taksim Square finds a way to touch his heart. Now that would be an amazing way to go down in the history books for Mr Erdogan. He could be the first leader in world history who goes through a spiritual transformation publicly and thus join the ranks of the great ones.

Yeah, I know. I like to aim high. But if I can imagine it it’s possible.

Oh, and in case Mr Erdogan does not change: we can. And we can all tap into an amazing potential of humanity. It is available to all of us. We are all Istanbulites.

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