Tuesday, May 1, 2007

May 1st

May 1st

This day used to have a lot of meaning for me. It would participate in the May Day parades all the time when I was in Germany. The May Day parades were organized by the Deutsche Gewerkschaft Bund—the German Union that comprised all the unions of German working/middle class. At these parade organized by the German Unions I did not see any German flags at all. It was about workers not national symbols; the parades were about the problems and their solutions. This meant a lot to me because on this day there is nothing about nations or national problems and their representation. It is purely a day when working or middle class present its problems excluding any other problems or interest.

Today or lately on May Day parades in many countries that participants also carry their national flags along with their banners to protest the government. This is a contradiction for me. Or at least the idea of May Day parade I think of was or still is that ethnicity or nationhood of people is not the issue. This is not something that one celebrates with something that represents ethnicity. On the contrary, it is clearly about interest that should go beyond the national interest and support the right of working men and women. My thoughts might be from my socialist times; but I stick to them.

Have a happy May 1st!

Monday, April 30, 2007

Killing of a Yezidi Girl by own Mob

There is not a day that fills our mind with some happy news or events. Even if there is a piece of happy news, it is flashed away with gruesome happenings that override and destroy jolly ones. Previously I wrote that the month of April was the bride of the months. I heard the story from a Kurdish Ezidi/Yezidi friend that I had met in Marburg, Germany when I was a student at the university there. I would frequently visit them because they were refugees in Germany and need language help. I helped them a lot concerning the German language. I learned a little bit about their culture. Since they knew my background was Alawite, they trusted me. Because both my Alawite culture and their Yezidi culture were minority cultures in Kurdistan, there was a tacit bond between us. This did/does not mean that I did not have Muslim or Christian friends. From the view point of my Yezidi friends I was closer to them because of the persecution of culture in Turkey. I learned about their culture. For example, in their culture “Satan” is a bad creature or a demon. Cursing Satan was regarded something appropriate. Satan is still an angle for them. They would not marry an outsider who is from their Yezidi belief. They would kill a Yezidi girl who marries a Muslim Kurd etc. They are very strict in preserving this tradition. So they would marry among themselves. Kurdish love songs are full of such tragedies. The young girl who is a Yezidi may not marry her lover who is a Muslim Kurd. The songs contain sad lyrics about the tragic loves just because the beliefs are different.

A few days ago, Kurdish Web sites were discussing a Kurdish girl killed by a mob in Iraqi Kurdistan. The girl was of Yezidi fell in love with a Muslim Kurd and ran away with him. The Yezidi relatives found her and killed her in mob styles. Yezidis, I believe, would not accept converts; you are either born as a Yezidi or not. I bet many young people have loved each other from Yezidi and other religions but could not marry because there is not escape out of it. I wonder how it is now among the Yezidis in Germany where most of the Yezidis from Kurdistan (Turkey) live now. I would like to see the impact of the German society on the Yezidis in Germany whether or not they have relaxed their traditions in that regard. The tragedy happened a few days ago spilled cold water on heart on the tightly knit societies and belief systems that allow revenge as a mode of solution no matter what the ethnic background is—Kurd, Turks, Arab, or Persian.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Why Kurdish Alawite do not eat rabbits?

As I have written earlier I was brought up in Kurdish Alawite tradition. Alawite belief system is one of the beliefs in Kurdistan or Turkey that is not known to the Islamic community in Turkey. Thus people do not know about the Alawite beliefs at all. It is only recently that the people openly declare that they are Alawites. They have semi-organized institutions which do not have strict control over the Alawites. However, the Alawites have built “Gathering Houses” in the metropolitan areas of Turkey, such as Istanbul, Izmir and Ankara.

Alawites have very different traditions that seem to be awkward in the dominant Islamic culture in Kurdistan. During my childhood I was constantly hearing that Alawites did not eat rabbits. The Sunni Kurds would go hunting rabbits in our villages because there were a great deal of rabbits in the Alawite areas. The Sunni Kurds would make fun of us as “Non rabbit eaters.” I did not know why we would not eat rabbits and the reasons why we would not eat rabbits were not satisfying at all. One of the reasons we would not eat rabbits was that “rabbits had long ears like donkeys.” Or “they would not digest their food” etc.

However, when one reads Leviticus 11, then one can see the real reason why Alawites do not eat rabbits: “The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying to them: Speak to the Israelites people thus: These are the creatures that you may eat from all the land animals: any animal that has true hoofs, with clefts through the hoods, and that chews the cud—such you may eat. ….the hare –although it chews the cud, it has no true hoofs: it is unclean for you.

I am of the opinion that this passage makes it clear why we Alawite do not eat rabbits. The degree of Jewish religion on Alawites has not been determined and it needs to be researched. Only then we would know how much we got from the Jewish beliefs and tradition.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

April is the Bride of the Year

The month of April is a moody one; it has both rainy and shiny days. Some trees have blossomed and some trees are beginning to open their buds. The tree blossoms bring happiness to one’s life. Therefore, one would like to smile and dream of nice and happy occasions and things that have not been real in life. Then there are cloudy and rainy days—albeit good for some reasons—but after a long dreary winter are sometimes unbearable. One’s longing for the blooms, tree leaves and flowers in the garden become intensive; this longing resembles the longing between two lovers for the intense feelings and passion. The rainy and shiny days also resemble two contradictions between two lovers for moments of hate as well.

The month of April is the Bride of the Year, told me my Kurdish friend of Yezidi religious belief. I liked it very much and have not forgotten for more than two decades since my friend had told me. It is impossible to forget something that meaningful and something that fills the mind and makes love the life. Why is April the bride of the year? April behaves like the bride. It is between winter and spring. The snow has not melted yet; the flowers start to come out; and the trees start to bloom while the mountain peaks are covered with snow. There are occasionally also snow blizzards. One would wander whether one is going to see the black soil again. So April is caught between winter and spring and does not know what way to go—stay in winter or head toward spring. What way is the sweetest? Is it not like a bride? Bride is ready to marry and it is so hard to leave her parents’ house because that house give her life and brought her up to marriage age. Then there the groom that wants to take away from her home and bring her into his home where she finds another kind of happiness. The decision is very hard. What shall she do? Shall she stay in her old home or go away to the new home? She cries and doest not want leave her family home. Can she tolerate that her whole life? It is not possible to prolong this old habit. The new force draws her and she becomes a part of her new life or husband. So is the month of April. She finally decides to go with spring and give new life to everything that wants to be alive.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The tragedy at Virginia Tech

After the tragedy at the Virginia Tech, many spin doctors produced theories of preventive actions that could have prevented the number of deaths. Such spin doctors as we can notice are not just from the field of politics when the time of elections come, there are spin doctors for every field. At our coffee break yesterday, my co-workers and I discussed the issue. Of course we were critical of the university administration and security department for not having taken preventive action to stop the whole tragedy. At the same time we introduce our plan of action about how we have acted when the first killing occurred.

It is probably easy to blame the authorities for not responding adequately. What we or I have done at such a moment? To be frank: I don’t know! Incidents as such have occurred and will perhaps occur in the future—let us hope not. But having experienced enough, there will certainly be attacks of this kind as long as one unsatisfied/sick human being wants to commit such insane but “human” act. I used human act because animals kill only if they are hungry and they target only one prey; there it is human who was insane to take lives of others unnecessarily.

It is easy to claim that this could have done or that might have prevented the carnage. I don’t disagree but not totally agree with such claims. It is very hard to prevent such things because the human mind is capable for any sadistic ideas because the action is not a mechanical action in its nature. The university is big; there might have been many threats. How can you be certain that every threat could be a real one but not a coax? It is hard to determine. This action can be carried out everywhere and not just a campus. There are mechanics of preventing certain areas such as power plants etc. On the other hand, there is almost no way of preventing a human being from executing massacres or killings. If one wants to go after depressed population, then one has to look into every fellow citizen. There is a high number of people are depressed and visit a psychologist. And there are depressed people who do not seek such help at all.

I think our generation or generation after WWII is not used to such tragedies; these tragedies occur in other countries that are far away. Therefore do not have a big impact on people here. It is possible that we have to get used to such tragedies here to and somehow accept the destiny and live with it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Ignorance can be challanged by a simple answer

This week I stayed at work, which is fortunately library, to work on the assignments for my classes at Queens College. One of my co-workers is also from Turkey. To note, that I am from Turkey too, but I am from Kurdistan or North Kurdistan. In political terms it is termed as Pan-Kurdism—I guess. I do not understand it why it is called Pan-Kurdism if we have to call different parts of Kurdistan North, South, East and Southwest. Before Germany was united, the Germans were not called Pan-Germanists who were for the unification of GDR and BRD. I stopped by at my Turkish co-worker and she was with the employee who was outsourced by a company that serves libraries. She introduced me as Turkish even though I had tolled her that I am Kurdish when we first met a year ago. At the moment I did not want to correct her and left it the way it was. I did not think that she hurt my feelings and I am used to such remarks by Turkish intellectuals who still swim in the waters of Turkish chauvinism not seeing that there are other ethnic groups other than Turks in Turkey. My co-worker has a doctorate in education and still has fathomed the difference. Later on I wrote to her that I would like to correct her on the issue of being Turkish. I clearly delineated the difference between being Turkish and Kurdish. I reminded her that we both speak Turkish, which I was forced to learn. Known Turkish or other languages is a fine thing, but being forced to learn Turkish is raping the mind of other people. It is a psychological sickness to force other people to change their identity or culture. The enforcer is capable of doing everything, ranging from genocide to destruction of countries because the mindset is based on resorting to force that could be detrimental any time. If an intellectual who has taught at a university level and does not know the differences and has not accepted uniqueness of differences within a country, the normal layman could be much worse and ignorant of events happening in his/her country and around the world. This ignorance I thought would be only challenged by reminding them kindly of the environment.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Easter in my childhood!

When I was a child, there were vendors on the streets of my town selling boiled eggs at this time of the year. These eggs were boiled in onion water; therefore, they had a reddish color. They did not sell any other times but only in early April. We would by these eggs and compete with friends as to whose egg would smash first by hitting the tops of the eggs. At that time I did not think of the meaning of such events. Now, however, it makes a lot of sense to me when I think about it. It was the time of Easter. Even though people did not celebrate as Easter, the remnant of celebration has stayed in the minds of these non-Christian people after being Islamized. Was this kind of celebration from the Christians who were forced to leave their homeland less than a century ago? In this case I talking about the Armenians with whom we, the Kurds, shared a land. Or something was left to us from the Christian Assyrians or Kaldeans or Arameans? Who knows? These cultural events need to be explored or researched—hopefully in the future when the Kurds are free to look into the roots of these celebrations and traditions that we unknowingly celebrate. To note here is that such events recently have died out like the dinosaurs once roamed on the surface of the planet. Unfortunately, there is any effort to revive such things that once shaped our lives and were a part of us. Once again I hope that these tradition kept alive or are revived when we gain our cultural freedoms in the lands where the cultural rights of ethnic groups are denied or oppressed brutally.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Kurds celerated New Year worldwide!

Kurdish New Year celebration in Istanbul

Last two weeks Kurds across the globe celebrated their New Year (Newroz). In various parts of the world, the celebrations were carried out in different styles and manner. In Kurdistan (Eastern Turkey, Northern Iraq, Northeastern Iran and Northern Syria) the celebrations were massive and millions participated to demand ethnic and cultural rights. In Iraqi Kurdistan, where the Kurds have an undeclared independence, the celebrations were in form in picnic and festivals; there was not a threat of being jailed or killed. In other parts of Kurdistan, the regional governments have jailed Kurdish activists for either speaking for Kurdish freedom thus insulting the nationhood. This was very evident in Turkey. Turkey has tried for many years to block Kurdish New Year celebrations as an act of separatism. By doing this, Turkish governments and other regional governments try to eradicate Kurdish culture in the Middle East and create homogenous ethnic cultures upon which their nations (Turkey, Iran, Syria and still Iraq) are based.

Picture from www.kurdistan.nu

Despite all the pressure—military or legal—Kurds have celebrated their New Year on March 21st. These celebrations have been in form of festival comprising of singing, dances and speeches on large city or town gathering places. In other countries such as Europe, North America and Russia and so on, Kurds have celebrated New Years festivities in big hall, conference rooms and even on the streets. This tradition has been going on in Europe for decades. It has become a cultural part of European celebrations.

Picture from www.kurdistan.nu Kurdish dances at Newroz celebration in Berlin

Monday, April 2, 2007

What is in this week’s obsession?

I used to listen to Alistair Cook on the BBC World News every week. He would send his reflections on America to BBC listeners. Somehow I had grown addicted to his weekly reports. I still go his site and listen to some of his reports. I am still his aficionado. This in the flow of time will change and I have to find some other obsessions to be busy with.

My obsession is now a burden! We all have our burdens in our lives. The rose always complains about the thorn that makes it appealing to it. Then when we approach the rose, its beauty becomes distasteful in our thoughts. Nonetheless we like it and we would like to posses it until we come near how difficult it is to go near it; smell it and then we give up cursing it. I love it thinking about it. It makes me think about anything I love and later on the novelty wears off. As happened in case of Alistair Cooke. I listened to him, however, now he is forgotten.

Is that all with everything? It is hard to say yes or no. I might say yayin (it is a combination of Ja and Nein in German.).

I believe that is different with a few things that could never change. Some of you might have thought of love as not a changing element. Maybe! I will not dispute it. However, I am of different opinion. The love for or obsession with ideas or concepts the crucial issue. This week and weekend many people celebrated and will celebrate. The Hebrews/Jews will celebrate the path to freedom. This concept has not died and I believe will never die.

Some people will celebrate/commemorate Jesus Christ whose novel ideas are ephemeral. What is the obsession with this man, which is alive all the times? His teaching has inspired the humanity. Nothing has affected our lives positively as much as his teaching has done. How can one not be obsessive with him? He preached freedom and nonviolence thousands of years ago. He had the courage to do it; he had the courage to forgive. This happened in a time when there was no mercy among people. He took the pain to insist on being peaceful. His obsession was with freedom and peace. We just need a little bit of it.

What is my obsession? It is the same as Jesus’—freedom. This weekend I celebrated Kurdish New Year (actually March 21st) in Boston (I will write about it next time.). The burden of freedom had made me to celebrate this annual tradition that inspires the thoughts of freedom. I have been busy with this burden for weeks now.

At times, I think myself about freedom. What is it? How can I describe it so that I will be obsessed with it for ever? I do not know how to answer it satisfactorily. Yet, I think freedom is the beat of never ending drum; freedom is the moment when autumn leaves fall into a creek to join the moisture; and the freedom is Love!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Civilization begins in the library.

I wrote the following short article for the library where I work.

One of the teachings of Zoroaster states that “He who cultivates grain, cultivates civilization.” This statement is exactly aimed at the center of our mind to make us ponder a lot. Planting grain in the ancient Middle East also initiated the foundations of civilization that ours is based on.

What is the foundation of our future civilizations? The late professor Hogan of Wesleyan University had said in one of his interviews that the “Civilization begins in with library.”
I am of the opinion that Trinity Library Outreach is doing just that by inviting 5th graders to our library. There are a lot of merits in introducing the college library to young kids: they will see a trove of books; they will observe students concentrated on reading a book; they will see people coming into and going out the library; they will see people with their lap tops doing all sorts of fascinating stuff.

The day of visit to the college library will certainly mark their young mind toward colleges and studies positively. When they go home they will talk to their parents or relatives about visiting Trinity College Library. This field trip is different than other field trips; this is about their future provided that they pursue further studies. This trip is different in that the library has demonstrated to them that it is at the heart of the civilization, and this is the place to open the door to the universe of knowledge. They will certainly relate this trip to Jefferson’ saying “I cannot live without books!”

I wish more power to the organizer(s) to having made this possible for the young readers as a part of the outreach to community and the world.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Images that haunt me all the time!

My professor of technology class posed an intriguing question and asked us to write our thoughts about images that stayed with us. There similar questions such as the “best 100 movies” or the “most influential philosopher of the millennium” on the BBC Web site some time ago, etc. Then there are pictures depicting the beauty such as Marlene Dietrich in the movie Casablanca. I have never thought of the pictures capturing my mind. Yet I did think about pictures that have had an interesting background or historical importance. For example, one of them is that Stalin is with Lenin during the Bolshevik revolution in Russia. Trotsky is missing on picture because Stalin had it removed to indoctrinate next generations in the Soviet Union without the memory of Trotsky. I think about these pictures in the context so that I relate them to an event or a remarkable moment.
There are images or pictures that depict beautiful moments and scenes. There are thousands of them. These moments captures by photographers have a novelty of a few second. After a few seconds, these moments are replaced by some other beautiful moments. I occasionally get pictures of beauty in attached files sent to me. The recent one was about Dubai and its booming tourism industry. For example, ski slope in a shopping mall or the $10,000 hotel suite per night. These are amazing pictures; nonetheless, they don’t stick to our minds because they are replaced second later by the pictures of the National Geographic.

What about the grim pictures then? I would like present some these grim and gruesome pictures that have haunted me all the time. They are in memory because they show the ugly side of our fellow human. It is about killing or destruction that is captured in a moment of seconds. The first picture is from the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s. The picture is from Robert Capa and called “Moment of Death.” It is quite remarkable how R. Capa took such a picture in the death field in a few second; it is mind boggling. The photographer must have gone through a scary moment to take someone’s falling when he got shot. The victim’s position makes one think what he thought about at the moment when he was falling. His gun looks like is also being swirled away like him when he was gunned down as though he were saying to gun “To hell with you!”

(Picture taken by Robert Cappa)

The other picture that I think about all the time is from the Kurdish town of Halabja in 1988. On March 16 of that year Iraqi Air Force dropped chemical bombs on the town, killing thousands of people in seconds. On this picture, a father has hugged his child lying on the ground. The fatherly love could not protect that child. No matter what the father did, his effort to save his child from poison gas was in vain. He might have had protected his child from other dangers but not from air born poison agents. One would think that the father could have lived if he had escaped without his infant child. No…he tries to save the baby but stays and dies with him or her.

(Halabja: March 1988)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Happy New Year!

It was pretty nippy yesterday when I left work. I love cold weather—snow, wind and brisk air. I occasionally tease my dear colleagues at work about their softness and complaints regarding beautiful New England winters. I felt the cold inside me yesterday. I have had of this brute and chilly wind. I reminded myself of my dichotomy. Do I love cold weather? Yes, I do … but what is this whimsical attitude. I pontificated about it for sometime and came to the comforting conclusion that it is the boundary between winter and Spring I have had enough of.
Having in mind that we will have a cold day at work, I really bundled myself to embrace the weather early in the morning while leaving for work. As soon as I stepped out, a gentile breeze embraced me. I looked down at the snow; the snow was melting. The sounds of little water paths tingled my mind and made me reminisce on things that I would otherwise not be a guest in your mind. Of course, it is the day before spring; the precursor of March 21st. It is not an accident. The gentile wind is the cutter of winter and spring like a forwarding slash between two words or the sensuality between two lovers.
Tomorrow is March 21st when we Kurds (like other national groups, e.g., Persians, Afghans, etc.) celebrate the arrival of the spring. It is the day when I set up fire and danced hand in hand with women to see the coming of age of spring and summer. It is the day when I sang freedom songs; I reached out my hand to singing youth in South Africa for freedom; It is the day when sang with the Chileans “NO PASARAN.” It is the day when I sang love songs, and it is the day when celebrate tomorrow for freedom and justice! Tomorrow will be the day when my singing will be a part of a new life. It is NEWROZ. New Day!

Monday, March 19, 2007

I am for peace but!

This weekend thousands of people gathered to protest against the war in Iraq. The anti-war demonstrators also protested against the U.S. presence in Iraq and an immediate withdrawal of the U.S. forces from Iraq. All of these are noble demands; I do support these demands by heart and agree, in general, with them against any invasion or occupation. One would be insane if without any reason to support an occupation or invasion that usually bring destruction and thus problems.
What made me to support the invasion of Iraq? First of all I am of Kurdish origin. Being Kurdish and being oppressed mean the removal of the dictatorships in the Middle East would be welcomed. It is quite destructive to live under regimes that do not know any scruples. The brutality of the Middle Eastern regimes is famous. How did the Islamic regime in Iran, for example, executed young female political prisoners? Once they landed in the infamous Evin prison in Tehran, they were first raped by the Revolutionary Guards and then they were executed. I bet one cannot imagine what it means unless lives under such situation. Even hearing such happening is not enough to have empathy because one forgets in busy midst of the day. When it comes to reporting of such tortures, the regimes brushes them away because the Western powers cannot interfere in the domestic problems. In some cases the Western powers do not interfere because there are very lucrative businesses happening between them and these cash producing countries. Of course, France would be interested in selling 30 or 40 Mirage fighter jets to Iran or Iraq (at the time of Saddam) and cash in billion of dollars. Why would they care about “a few” people with bloody noses?
Second, if there is no foreign intervention, then there is no change in the Middle East. The Middle East was carved out during and after WWI. The Middle East has always been a place of occupation and intervention. The intervention begins early on with Greeks, Persians, Arab-Islamic conquests, Mongols, Turks etc. Why is it that people in the Middle East scream out their guts when someone else comes to occupy? If the Americans stay there for some times they will be natives too. Were the Arabs the natives of Kurdistan? They were not. Were the Turks the Natives of Anatolia? No they were not. So it is the time that makes us to forget the events.
Finally, I am for the peace if they let me stay and be in peace. What does it mean? It means I would like them to show my culture respect; let me speak in my language; let me write and read in my mother language. Is this to much to ask?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

March 16

On March 16, 1988 Saddam’s regime dropped chemical weapons on the Kurdish town of Halabja, killing over 5,000 civilian people. This was a final act of his campaign of eradicating Kurds in Iraq. This campaign was called Al-Anfal in Arabic, which means “the Spoils of War.” It is a Sura in the Quran. This campaign lasted from 1986 to 1989. During this campaign the Baath regime in Iraq killed 180,000 Kurds. Many Kurds were deported into Arab part—south—of Iraq to depopulate Kurdistan. The Iraqi Kurds have been fighting the Arab regimes for decades for their autonomy and democracy. The Kurdish fight began in Iraqi-Kurdistan when the Iraq was a mandate of Britain in the 1920s. They revolted many times against the British government. After the British left, the Arabs came to power to govern Iraq. Since the founding of Iraq the Arab regimes have vehemently fought to deny Kurds their rights of self-government.

The Anfal campaign was an eye opening for us Kurds. Countries in the U.N Security Council did not believe such an attack by Saddam on the Kurds and they dismissed it. There was nothing to be done. Saddam was offering all the countries lucrative businesses, e.g., acquiring military hardware from cash greedy military-industrial companies. There was no one to file complaints against because we did not have any power to get countries behind us to do something for injustice. It was like being a homeless person on the street without any protection from hunger, cold, and heat. We will remember those days for ever. We will remember that there was no help when we were attacked with chemicals. We will remember those days when no one came to heal our wounds. Therefore we will not give up what we have achieved in Iraq-Kurdistan. We will be a beacon of freedom in the Middle East.

Click on the link below to view a slide show about Halabja


Thursday, March 15, 2007

What is love?

We all have thought about meaning of the term love and we have perhaps read love poems or love novels. We all love to think of Romeo and Juliet story that make us think about love. Then there are the terms of Time and Space that are beyond our imagination. The combination of all three terms is that we use them in a sentence and try to understand the concept that way. The terms become clearer when we say “There was a time that I fell in love” and also say “That a time came that I fell out of love.” Or how we would convey our emotions to someone else? We would use the term space in a sentence to explain our visceral turmoil and say “I cannot bear it any more,” etc. Here we describe the concept of space to reveal out thoughts and feelings toward someone or even something. How would I bring all this together? Or what is the remedy for all this. We could sing a song or listen to a bird or as the hapless one try to see the revered one. Even once we the revered one, the emotions coming from us cannot fit any physical realm of space. I am certain we can find solace once again in the arms of the loved one. Is this good enough for something we long for—Not at all. The only thing we find peace is the words of the Persian poet Hafiz. Hafiz describes “Love kicks the ass of time and space.”
Would Hafez’s pearls satisfy our emotions all the way? Then again we might seek the truth in everything else but in the Zeilen of a poem? We might try then Rainer M. Rilke. He describes love or passion with a metaphor comparing it with a rose. He longs for the rose, but the rose is so beautiful and fragile that he does not want to touch it. What a dilemma? It is a matter and anti-matter. The concept of the rose is beyond the space and time; it illuminates every corner of space in the heart. But there comes the time that he must touch the rose and thus destroy the space in the heart which seemed to be eternal. Maybe Hafizi’s reign ends here and Rilke start roaming in the space of thought.
Then we ask ourselves what we are going to do now? How shall we go on? At this point we seek the “truth” in Socratic wisdom because we got old and wisdom reigns. We do not want to be responsible and feel the burden of love; we would like to be solitaire and retreat to our own corner. His friends asked Socrates about the merit of being aged. He reply is “I am relieved of the burden of love.” After this point we all seek only one truth—love for the dust (earth) that eventually will satisfy Love, Time and Space of which we know.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

My thought on drug usage in the U.S.

Two days I was listening to a report on the NPR. The report was about the visit of President Bush to some of the Latin American countries. The subject matter of the report was, in addition to economic and political issues, also about the problem of drugs from these countries entering the U.S. As it is known that the U.S. spends billion of dollars yearly to fight the production and importation of illegal drugs into the country. The war against the drug import has been going on more than a decade. Nonetheless, the drug usage in the States has not decreased or been solved even though the U.S. government pours billions of dollars into the countries in South America to fight it militarily. The problem will never be solved considering the nature of human beings.

What can be done instead?

I am of the opinion that any kind of drugs should be legalized regardless of the type. We will have the problem no matter it using drugs is legal or illegal. So the problem exits with or without being legal. Now because selling drugs is illegal, there is an under world criminality next to the legal government. The under world does not pay taxes and creates problems of any sort in the society such as killing, kidnapping etc. The governments in the South America are ineffective against fighting the drug cartels. However, these governments are the toys of these cartels. Therefore the democracies are in trouble because of the situation or control of the cartels over the governments.

In the U.S., the society faces a big dilemma because (1) it has to deal with the drug addicts and (2) with the people who sell drugs. The organized crime is very effective in extracting profit from selling drugs. The only way to avert such problems is making drugs legal. Users would buy them from pharmacies. The legal purchase would also help to pay for treatment of the addicts. Nowadays the treatment is based on the money form the government. The government would not have to pay billions of dollars to fight the drug production; yet, it would divert the money to treating people or helping the farmers with other production. Consequently, there would not be any organized crime to import and sell drugs illegally.

My view is now an impossible to be accepted but this is the only to face the reality both economically and socially.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Today is International Women's Day!

I checked the Trinity Exchange and wanted to see something about March 8th. There was nothing specific about today in history and about today in presence. The today I celebrated is for me in the past, too. Will it be in the future—I do not know. I celebrated the today with women on the street and listened to women leaders—unionist, parliament members, etc. On this today, I attended lectures about women to know more about them and their struggle. I knew very well today came from the struggling American women. I knew about their exploitation and their fight for equal rights.

I will not celebrate the today I used to; I do not see any crowd outside my window to join and listen to what they say. Am I detached from the past; perhaps I am. I am perhaps I post-celebratory man. I might be someone who thinks about the past and comes to other conclusions—yes time is the judge as to what we did and what we will do.

And I will not celebrate and say “Happy Women’s Day!” I will think about a few women that I knew and I have heard about. I know a woman whose son got taken away by the military on September 12th 1980. He never returned and since then the woman goes with other similar women to a place in Istanbul to protest her son’s abduction. She is one of the Saturday’s Mothers. I know another woman who visited her son in the military prison of Diyarbekir. She talked in Kurdish to her son in the presence of military personal. The military personal forbade her speak in Kurdish; she was supposed to speak in Turkish, which she did not know. Every time she communicated in Kurdish, her son was flogged in front of her eyes. She would cry whenever she saw me, for I was her son’s equal. I heard about a woman who was asked by the military to choose on of her sons—she had three sons--to be spared. She could not pick anyone of them. She said to the military: “Kill all of them!”

I will not celebrate this today anymore; I will only think about them and bury them in my memories for today—Today is the International Women’s Day!

Monday, March 5, 2007

Having Cold!

I consider myself a luck person as far as my health is concerned. I occasionally catch cold. Other than that my life has been illness free.

Over the weekend I have not been feeling well and getting down with a cold. So far its initial symptoms are “runny nose,” “feeling weak,” and “being angry.” Consequently, I do not want to be bothered by anyone, including my boys whom I love so dearly. But the most difficult part of not feeling well is when one has to study for the next class when there are exam and papers due next week. Do you e-mail your professors about your condition? This is a dilemma! How would you convey the message that you are not feeling well and could not study for the class assignment?

I guess in many cases of such situations one rarely think about missing classes because people do not consider having cold is serious. People often go to work and work at home when they are not feeling well. It is devastating when one gets a cold; however, if one thinks of other illnesses, one is relived for having a lousy cold and nothing else. The thought that it will take only a few days makes one feel better about the beautiful days ahead. By the same token, feeling sick makes one think of other people with serious illnesses. It is this moment that one feels empathy with them. It is remarkable what these people go through!

Having such small colds is sometimes good so that one can be compassionate!

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Politics beyond race!

When I came to the U.S.A. in 1988, I was struck by the ethnic differences among the American nation. Every ethnic group is organized in its own organization, i.e., people of the Polish background have their own organization such as the American Polish Home. Or Black Americans are organized in their organizations, etc. I guess this necessitated from the need of helping each other or not accepting other group as their own. Of course, going back to the slavery, one could see the reason why the people of different colors did not trust or hated each other. I was not aware of this fact until I came and see in this country.
It was different in Germany. Germany has also many different ethnic groups such as Kurds, Turks, Greeks, Croatians, Bosnians, Italians, and Albanians etc. Even though people of the various ethnic groups have had their own associations and churches, they were also organized in organizations beyond the ethnic interest. These organizations were German political parties and professional interest organizations, e.g., unions. At a certain point all these ethnic group have had common interest to voice. These common interests were economic and social problems. For example, one of the hottest problems was job market. Such a problem exceeded the ethnic barriers and brought people together in politically different parties, such as Social Democrats, Conservatives, Green Party, and Communist.
Tonight I listened to a report about the gubernatorial elections in Massachusetts in 2006. The new governor of Massachusetts now is an African American. I listened to speech excerpts. It was quite remarkable that he did not stress the racial issues but almost only economic and social issues. Having a woman opponent and being elected as a black governor in Massachusetts is an enormous victory. I then thought about the differences between him and other black leaders such as Al Sharpton. He tried many times to be elected but did not succeed. Looking at the differences, I thought myself that somehow the new black leaders have entered a new and successful era like in Germany.

Friday, March 2, 2007

When it is Friday!

When Fridays come, people are so happy and use the cliché TGIF. I take the opposite position and say “there is always a Monday ahead.” It will be Monday in 48 hours or so. Do I hate Fridays? No! When Fridays come, I feel so empty. I have to go home and start thinking I am going to do this weekend. Perhaps I have to deal with my kids over the weekend and be creative with them because there is nothing else to do.

Fridays are special for some people such as Jews and Moslems. Sundays are special for the Christians. They can get kids be busy with Churches, Mosques, or Synagogues. Consequently half the weekend is filled with low activity. What about me? Since I do not believe in any of the religions, I have to come with some machination to deal with my kids for the whole weekend.

I guess my alibi would be “studying for my classes” over the weekend. So I will visit my friend tomorrow (Saturday) with my kids and declare Sunday for myself to study. Am I going to study at home? No way… I will take off and go to my work—which is my library—and sit across my computer and start evaluating book reviews. This is the well meant intention; yet one never knows whether the plan would establish itself over the weekend.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Being Evaluative!

I have not written for the blog for a few of days; I felt that something was disturbing my mind and conscience. The “threat” was pretty serious since it became bothersome because my professor has said very clearly that we have to write four times a week. Otherwise, the blog would not count toward for a better grade. Since the blog has become a part of the weekly assignment, it really does not matter whether it counts toward my grade or not; I am now used to writing for the blog somewhat regularly.

Today (March 1, 2007), I will write about being evaluative or having skills to evaluate one’s observations in the nature. Every Wednesday I attend a luncheon seminar at the Hillel House at Trinity. Volunteers prepare themselves about certain subjects in the Hebrew Bible and comment on them. For example, the exodus Hebrews from Egypt to Canaan is one of the topics. I admire the intellectual capacity of the people at the lunch table. They must have done this regularly, for they are familiar with the subject matter. They can tell what is wrong the story in the Bible and whether it was possible for Moses to go through the Red Sea without being killed in the water. I would like to stress though that I am not talking about the arguments but about the way arguments and the stories are being evaluated and eventually a conclusion is drawn.

Another evaluation mesmerizes me is the evaluation of book reviews. We happen to write review of book reviews for Dr. Chelton’s class. It is marvelous to see how some book reviewers interweave the contents of the books with their thoughts and put into a short paragraph. It is noticeable the reviewer has a great deal of vocabulary so that s/he can use while writing a book review. In addition, it is interesting that the reviewers can use one sentence to describe a whole drama or go beyond things to characterize things that the reader cannot think of.

Thinking about nature and life, I think an evaluative observant has a grip of life due to his or her skills that the parents have taught while the person was a little child.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Snow fall and Gore's Oscar victory

Last night Gore’s documentary was among the Oscar winners. This made me very happy. I have not watched his documentary yet because it will have an impression on me so that I will not get away from thinking about the environment all the time. I guess that one would analyze my angst as getting away from the realities and not facing them. I am perhaps a person who is not up to some challenges such as environmental disaster, economic collapses, etc.

Following the Oscars, the snow blanketed the state of Connecticut, where I live. This was a beautiful message after Gore’s victory. Somehow social and natural events have nicely coincided at the same time. The snow fall made happy too after hearing the news about climate change this year. Everyone has been talking about the problem that we might face it drastically in the future. However, seeing the snow on the tree branches this morning made my day and I thought that I am fortunate to see it again before the end of winter season.

A winter without snow is a house without roof, a face without smile, or a cup of soup without salt. When it comes to snow, I am person who does not complain about. When it snows, my friends at work complain and moan about the presence of the snow so that I play devil’s advocate and take the side of the snow to the point that I become adamant about and then realize that I should stop not to annoy people. This is because I do want the nature to take its course and it pleases itself. I might be cruel because the course of nature can be brutal at time when it comes to earth quake or if snow fall becomes deadly.
As a matter of fact sometimes, snow fall can be devastating when it brings about avalanches and death and destruction with it. Yet this is very seldom and happens occasionally as in other destructive forces that are caused by men. For example, accidents involving death or fires that cause havoc etc.

No matter what I look at it positively and enjoy the snow when I see kids on their snow tubes, skies and other means sliding down the hills. Incidentally, I think about water in the summer due to the snow fall and say “Alas…we will have not worry about water this year” and do not think about any thing that disturb my routine.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

I have as many numbers of the accounts as the capitalists do!

I remember having read in a newspaper some years ago that Imelda Marcos—the former first of lady of the Philippines in 70s and 80s--had had 5,000 pairs of shoes in her glorious days. That was certainly a sensational piece of news for a leftist such as I. It was a good argument to support my ideas against inequality and oppression, etc. Even if one is not a leftist, having thousand pairs of shoes is a grotesque way to indulge oneself. There are a great many such examples one of which is that Mari Antoinette’s answer to the demonstrating Parisians. She had asked her servants or people around her why the Parisians were demonstrating against. When her people told that they were demonstrating against hunger, she had replied “If they cannot find bread, they should eat torte.” Therefore, it is not surprising that sometimes elite behave awkwardly and annoying. However, such annoyance might also bring down the ruling elite who are selfish and can only think about themselves.

The reader might think that I was supposed to write about the Kurds; I had promised to continue with the history or situation of the Kurds next day. I know that I veered off from that topic because I intended to write for my blog yesterday; I could not enter my blog site. The reason for that was no matter what I did, I was not able to access my site. Therefore I could not update my blog. Since I have all my passwords on my machine at work, I needed to drive to work this morning—Saturday 24, 07. My work is 16 miles away from my home. I drove to work after having breakfast with my kids. I would have stayed at workplace to study for my classes but I had to return home and go to my children’s swim meet, for I had signed to work from 1 to 5:30 until the end of the meet. The following day my other son is going to compete in the swim meet. So the weekends are full and there is almost no time study for classes.

When I retrieved my username and password for the blog, I looked at the list of my usernames and passwords, it downed on me that the era of the Internet or cyberspace has eventually brought equality among the classes. Now I can say I am equal in having as many account numbers to various sites as do capitalists in my society. I can compete with all the capitalists in creating account numbers. Finally, everyone can now accounts for Yahoo, Google, and other sites—you name it. This is a great revolution. The revolution in cyberspace has made us—rich and poor—equal. This is the only place we can compete with each other. What Marx, Engels and other revolutionary philosophers have not achieved with their ideas, cyberspace revolutionaries have achieved with the creation of revolutionary information technology.

When I started counting my accounts, I realized that I did have many accounts. I do not know whether I will use all of them, but I did possess many from many known brands not from Bloomingdale, Boss, or C. Klein but from Yahoo, Google, MSN, airline, library, Amazon, Borders, etc. etc.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Who am I?

Last week I promised to introduce myself to my classmates and other people who would stumble upon my blog. Now I have some spare time to do it.

We know people by their names, deeds and fame. Moses is known as the messenger of the Ten Commandments. Some of these commandments had been written or practices in Mesopotamia. For example, Hammurabi is known to have put down laws and these laws considered as the first written laws. Jesus has been known for centuries and now as the Holly Spirit, God, and the Son of God. Mohammed is known as the messenger of God. Everyone has an attribute to be known for.

Since I am not of this caliber, then what am I known for? Who am I? I must admit though that I am only known by my name and last name like other billions of people. I am Yuksel Serindag. My ethnic background is Kurdish. Some of you might ask themselves about the word “Kurdish.” Yes, the word “Kurdish” describes an ethnic group in the Middle East. Kurdish is the adjective of the word “Kurds,” who live in Kurdistan. Kurdistan is the land where the Kurds live. Of course there are other ethnic groups that live in Kurdistan as well, e.g., Assyrians. To know more about Assyrians please go to Wikipedia.

Kurdish land or Kurdistan right now is divided by four countries—Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria--in the Middle East. The Kurds are neither Turks, nor Arabs, nor Persians. Linguistically they are related to the Persians. The Kurdish language is a branch of the Indo-European family language tree to which English, German, Russian, French and Greek belong. There are many Kurdish words that are similar to words in the languages above. For example, the word “Brother” in English is “Bra” in Kurdish.

My ethnicity is Kurdish but my name Yuksel Serindag is Turkish not Kurdish. The reason for that is when I was born (in the 60s) Kurdish was forbidden and still is. Therefore my parents gave me a Turkish name. The process happened in the U.S. and Australia with the natives. This process is called assimilation. That is, a militarily powerful culture tries to eradicate another one.

To be continued…

Friday, February 16, 2007

Telling about yourself!

In the first class, we introduced our classmates based on what we told each other. The easiest part of telling about yourself was obviously telling your name, occupation, marital status, etc. However, there was another question as to by what you want to be known. I found this question quite interesting. I could not tell my classmate anything about by what I wanted to be known. This is a tough matter! What could be so interesting about me? Usually people are known by their deeds, fame, and accomplishment. I did not have any of those. Also, I thought telling that part might be a kind of bragging about yourself. Maybe I do not know about my qualities and had never thought about them. After pondering about that question while driving home to Middletown, Connecticut, I came to the conclusion that such a question is very American.

Why would I say that? Think about a meeting, party congresses, elections, and any kind of ceremonies, the speaker or the person at the center of the event starts the speech or the event by introducing himself/herself. This, of course, is very normal. After the smooth introduction, the person then continues with his or her accomplishments by listing them all, so that people know about his or her merits. I have been living in this country for more than a decade—almost two decades next year. I ought to have gotten used to this side of being American as well, but I guess this aspect will take some more time. I will hopefully introduce myself next time.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

How to start?

It is the beginning of everything that one has to think about: What to write? How to start? Will it be good write-up? Or even will it make a good impression on the classmates and the professor? I left these questions aside and took writers' advise "just start writing" as the main provocateur to make me join the blog club. Consequently, I jumped on the bandwagon and created a blog, too. Also, the e-mails of my classmates encouraged me to join the group and enjoy the fruits of nature--sorry! the fruits of electronic world.

What will my blog be about? I will reflect my thoughts on the life and its dynamics such as politics, religion, history, and daily problems. In doing so I will probably write about things that are also controversial, e.g. war, international politics, and religious issues.

I would like to warn before hand that I will not spend much time editing my write-ups, so there will be some grammatical problems as far as syntax are concerned. I apologize for this! I hope that everyone has understanding for my grammar mistakes. However, what I think is important is whatever is inside.

I hope that you all have had a nice Valentine's Day!