As I went into the crowd gathered at the Liberty Square to say the last farewell to the great and brave person, I was attentive to what was on people’s lips. – “Did you see what’s happening in Turkey? So many Turks went out to support him and claim for justice”. These was mainly what I’d hear, and those weren’t just words. People here were astonished and in the meantime admired by the willingness and readiness of the Turkish nation in their struggle to protect Dink’s name and claim to take down the Article 301.
Which Armenian would ever suppose that a Turk would go out for a demonstration with posters “We all are Armenians”, “We all are Dinks”? Stuck in this country with only news on the political relations between two countries and biased claims for acknowledging the genocide, against which incidentally Hrant’s fight was, we would only have the anger, resentment and disdain for the other nation. But what happened? Has something really moved? Did Hrant Dink’s conscious death really make a bridge between the chasms created between these nations?
And I dare say – yes, it did. As far as I see those excited people flooding the streets of Istanbul, Turks and Armenians gathered at the same place with one and the same goal – justice, understanding, freedom and Peace. As far as I see the reaction of Armenians, my relatives, my neighbors, my friends and my acquaintances, who before were negative towards the Turkish people, but now their actions, attitudes and emotions are being changed. The ice is melting…
I dread and I tremble as I think now. I talk of our nations as of one, as of human beings. We are not just individual entities, but are the product of history and our ancestry. We naturally inherit some of our ancestors’ characteristics, both physically and psychologically. Some of their achievements and some of their burdens come down to us and influence us. And this is one of the burdens – result of their actions in the past. No matter who is right and who is wrong, lasting peace can be achieved only when both sides sincerely desire it. Is this really the moment? Is this the real spirit of reconciliation?
People gathered in the streets of Turkey who before were shut for expressing their attitudes now had an opportunity to shout out to the world “We are not enemies, this is your land, come and live here!”. And people gathered in Armenia for the first time realize, that they are people in Turkey who have other views, who are sincere in their calls, and the pleasant uncommonness of this scene gives way to the Armenians to ponder as well and to re-estimate their attitudes.
This pulls tears from my eyes – when people who have been wronged can let go of their anger and desire for retaliation, when arrogance can give way for humility, greed to generosity, exploitation to service, and enmity to love and forgiveness. Forgiveness is not a sign of weakness but an act of courage and strength. It takes courage also to recognize our mistakes, learn them and resolve not to repeat them.
If we want peace and understanding, then the first stage is to become humble, listen deeply to those who we offended, transcend our own view point and develop empathy. Perhaps our greatest challenge is to listen deeply while people who we offended describe their suffering. Are we going to keep this grudge and conflict forever? We need to be heard and understood as it is an important part of the healing process. Unless people accept responsibility to undo the effects of past abuses, the conflict will not be overcome. By taking responsibility for past and present conflicts, we help relieve the burden of future generations, and free them to experience greater progress. We are affected by past conflicts, but we also have the opportunity to either pass on the problems or pass on the solution.
With my romanticized wishes and optimistic views, I sincerely believe that the Dink’s murder opened a new page in the history of these nations, and that this tragic loss will announce, if hasn’t yet, the reconciliation process of these nations. And doesn’t actually matter what the politicians, the governments, committees or other functionaries may discuss on this issue, because not a law or article can change or cultivate what people have in their hearts, which is, as proved during these days, sincere, genuine, pure and true. Nothing but a true spontaneous emotional reaction, the witness of which we all became, can contribute to the resolution of the conflict. Yes, the bridge is built, not on the political level, but between the hearts of these two nations. And isn’t this the most important? Isn’t this what Dink always aspired to? Unfortunately, he had to pay a high price for it…
Here I want to remember Martin Luther King’s words, “We never get rid of an enemy by meeting hate with hate, we get rid of the enemy by getting rid of the enmity”.
Go in peace, in all senses of it…