Am I going to have to do one of these every day? I can’t keep up. I’ve spent the last twenty-four hours thinking about Turkey and then at church this morning South Sudan featured heavily in the prayers. I hardly dare look it up. Obviously, nothing good is going on there.
I haven’t been to Turkey, and I know shamefully little about its internal politics and history, except where the latter has intersected with European countries I’ve studied. But I do live near the part of Sydney Road that is sometimes referred to as ‘Little Turkey’, for its high Turkish population. This first came to my attention in 2002, when Turkey did unexpectedly well in the world cup. We were in the tram home from some event, and suddenly the tram stopped, because Sydney Road was full of people, dancing and tooting horns and enthusiastically waving Turkish flags. And that was only the top 16.
Every week, as Turkey continued to progress towards their eventual third place, the excitement grew more intense, the shouting got louder, the flags grew larger and more prominent. We live a good 500 metres or more from Sydney Road, and we could still hear the cheering whenever they won (immediately followed, as is traditional, by the crazed driving and exuberant tooting of car horns up and down our street).
Even when they lost in the semi-final, there was excitement – this was still their best result ever, and when they beat South Korea in the play-off for third, I remember watching players from both teams hugging each other – neither team had ever progressed so far before.
This, then, is my experience of Turkey.
I don’t know if it was my imagination, but when I walked down Sydney Road yesterday, it seemed rather subdued. From the little that I have read, it’s hard to see any way that this civil war can possibly end well.
And already we are looking at the next piece of awfulness – though, now that I have started reading, it seems that the mess in South Sudan started nearly a week ago. I just hadn’t heard about it yet because it hasn’t featured heavily in the news, and I didn’t know to look.
… I don’t think I can write about every single awful thing that happens, every country that is experiencing tragedy or chaos at the moment. There aren’t enough hours in the day, and there is only so much staring into the darkness that one can do and maintain one’s sanity. There’s a certain compulsion that says, wait, you wrote about France, why aren’t you writing about these other countries, countries in Africa or the Middle East or Asia. How is that fair? And it’s not fair – none of it’s fair. It’s not fair that it’s happening, for that matter. I think it’s natural to care more, and write more, about the countries to which one has a personal connection of some kind, but does that make it right? I don’t think so. I only know that I, personally, have only so many resources that I can give to this.
For today, I’m going to stick to praying for peace – and maybe baking for people. That’s all I’ve got right now. Baked goods, and love. I’m all out of words.