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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Letters of Support

Here is a small selection of the emails sent to me about my 2007 summer vacation, spent in the streets of Nicosia.

Juli N from the USA writes:

Hi Ali,

Probably like a lot of readers, I first came across your site looking for information about Tarkan, as there is very little to be had in America. (The site didn't disappoint!)

Lately though, I've been reading through some of your blog posts. I have to tell you how moved I am by the stories of the Nicosian refugees. The tears started to flow when I read of the horrors they had witnessed and the personal hells they have experienced. However, the tears flowed even more freely when I read of their hope, their generosity, and their humanity. Few in America really know what pain, suffering and loss is on such a scale. Therefore, few here know true generosity of spirit, true hope, and true redemption.

As I live in rural Texas, you can probably imagine the narrow-mindedness, prejudice and ignorance I encounter every day. Southern "Christians" (and I use that term facetiously, as I agree with you that what Jesus taught has nothing to do with their fear, hatred, and self-righteousness) are suspicious of at best, and downright hateful toward anyone who practices a different religion, or who has a different worldview (we won't even get started on how they feel about people with "unnatural" sexual orientations.) I also use the word "worldview" facetiously, as the world, to them, barely extends past the noses on their redneck faces. But I digress, and I'm slipping into the same kind of generalizations and prejudice.

I am so weary of the "it's us or them", "if you're not with us, you're against us" mentality that the rise of George W. Bush and his ilk has wrought in this country. I also cried as I read some of your posts on the Iraq war, as I was one of the few in the US who recognized military action against that country as the horrible, unjust tragedy that it has turned out to be, even before the invasion. I KNEW they would find no weapons of mass destruction... This war was planned well before 9-11... That national tragedy was simply used as propaganda and currency to justify a greedy personal agenda, and the spilling of blood in the name of oil and a family grudge. And the American public bought it, hook, line and sinker. To me, that is probably an even bigger tragedy than the event itself. The fact that my country, the country I live in, the country I loved, could act in such a reprehensible way has broken my heart for the last 5 years. To take the goodwill of the entire world after 9-11 and just throw it away with the unjustified slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians makes us no better than the warlords of Somalia. One wonders if they know they're evil, or if they hide behind the mask of righteousness, like the US does... Read more about the War In Iraq >>

My husband is a Native American, mostly Cherokee & Choctaw. I am third generation Irish on my father's side, so at least I can say with certainty that my paternal ancestors had nothing to do with slaughtering his ancestors. The genocide of the American Indian tribes is a dark chapter in American history, one that most Americans, with the exception of said Southern Conservatives, recognize as such. I can only hope that the rest of America can eventually recognize the same in our current foreign policy, and that the end of the Bush administration will mean the end of US Imperialism. Seeing "good American" people rally behind this idiotic "leader" and his corrupt administration unquestioningly for the last seven years, I was beginning to lose hope in humanity. But the recent backlash against Bush, the war, and the Republican party give me hope. I am still sceptical that the Democrats can do any better, but at least they might be less prone to rush to war. Reading your story about the refugees renews some of my belief in the basic goodness of human nature, and the triumph of hope over tragedy.

Thank you for that, my friend. If you're ever in the States, you'll always have a bed, a shower, and all the good food you can eat in our home. Love, and peace...


Narmin B. in Sweden writes:

Dear Ali,

Such a journey, I admit I am so jealous of you. I did meet so many backpackers in Australia and I just can imagine how it could be to live that way for awhile; it would be wonderful. It was also heart breaking to see the embarrassing situation of Aborigines in Australia.

To be able to meet friendly people regardless how life had treated them unfriendly and find love in must unexpectable places must be and feel like magic. As you pointed out to come across new cultures and to be poor in pocket but in contrast enriching your mind and spirit is not some thing who every one are able to experience.

Please do write about your journey in your blog and share your findings for people like me who never going to experience it.


T in Texas, USA, writes:

Keep safe. [Someone] once told me his friends on the street are better than any family..Once again stay safe and let me know when you get home again...Now I am starting to sound how I talk to my kids better go.. Love as always.


A.H. writes:

Dear Ali,

I don't think you were crazy. :) Was [your holiday] a little extreme? Yes, but I know that if it was REALLY crazy...or if it was really dangerous you would have never done it. As you said, it wasn't like you were in the UK or [America]. You just followed your gut. Someone once told me that intuition is the voice of God. Apparently he thought you needed this experience...and that there were people out there who needed your help. It also helps to have guardian angel or two looking out for you. :)

I think it was wise to write the posts you did. First of all, the experiences are part of your life and since the blog is about you, you should at the very least write about it to the point you feel comfortable sharing. Second, you never know who will read it. You might reach someone in Nicosia who actually has ability/power to really help the people you wrote about (and others who are in a similar situation). I believe that if nothing else, you created an awareness. It is very easy to walk by these people (no matter where we live) and not "notice" them. You gave these people a sense of value. We have to remember that these people are no different than us in some ways. They have loved ones, had a home at one point. Just because their current situation is what it is...we shouldn't look at them as anything less. That making a difference.


Terence, in Hong Kong, writes:

Mr Ali :)

You inspire me to do something like this, too. You are my hero. I want to help, too.

Thank you for your sentiments Terence, but there are greater heroes out there; those that actually live on the street because they have no choice - and they need our help in many ways.

However, I must again add this proviso: I don't recommend what I did to anyone else. Please remember that met with the toughest conditions, these people live lives that we can hardly imagine, and while some hold on to hope, some can lash out at what we perceive as "our kindness". As one reader was perceptive enough to label, mine was a gut instinct - a calling if you will. I cannot tell you what to do of course, but if you really want to help, I advise that the best way to do this is to first raise your own awareness, and then that of others. You can do this by contacting various related charities and aid organisations to volunteer your time and effort.

Just to be as humane to one another as we can possibly be is all we should strive for - we are not here to be heroes, just human.

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