A man who wants to lose his self discovers, indeed, the possibilities of human existence, which are infinite, as infinite as is creation. But the recovering of a new personality is as difficult – and as hopeless- as a new creation of the world.Hannah Arendt, We Refugees
About a month ago, I opened the Facebook app on my phone for a brief moment of respite from end of semester busy work to find images of asylum seekers getting tear gassed by the United States Customs and Border Protection agency at the border between Tijuana, Mexico, and San Diego, California.
Earlier that week, Raed Fares, the Syrian activist and citizen-journalist whose political courage manifested in and through Radio Fresh and whose biting sense of humor was behind the indicting revolutionary posters coming out from Kafranbel, was murdered by “unknown attackers.” Raed’s killers were likely affiliated with HTS.
A few months ago, the Turkish activists known as “Saturday Mothers” gathered for the 700th time in Galatasaray. Their peaceful protest demanding an end to enforced disappearances in Turkey was quashed by the police. During the struggle, HDP MPs created a human shield around Arat Dink, the son of murdered journalist Hrant Dink, to prevent the police (representatives of an institution that shamelessly celebrated his father’s murder and murderer) from taking him into custody. One of the protesting mothers, Emine Ocak, was detained 11 years after her detention in the same place. In 1997, two women police officers had carried her into the police van. In 2018, two women police officers carried her into the police van. The similarity between the two photos were harrowing. It was as if time stood still. It was as if nothing had changed. It was as if time moved at lightening speed. It was if everything changed overnight.
Amidst all this resurgent state violence, violent displacement, and dispossession, all I can do is feel angry at the world that has trampled, and continues to trample, on people I love, on people I consider friends, on people I consider allies, on people who are simply trying to live freely and with dignity. Living on the other side of the world was supposed to provide some kind of shelter from all this cruelty. Instead, all it offers is the unbearable weight of never feeling quite right in my own skin. I live with my heart, my stomach, and my brain tied up in knots. It’s getting harder for me to untangle those knots. It’s getting harder for me to think. It’s getting harder for me to write.
My resolution for 2019 is to think through and past these knots by writing more, by writing in every language I know, and to write even when the world seems utterly hostile with its senseless cruelty. At times, this will be a fight against myself, against the feeling that I have no place in this world, against the feeling that I carry nothing but ruptured particles of my former self. After all, language doesn’t lose its mind, does it?