Moon & Butterfly has moved and is now The Justice Journey!

Hello everyone! After a few interesting incidents, like one of my posts going viral all around the world, I decided that I no longer wanted my blog to be only a personal space but rather a platform to share my structured opinions. So, as part of a communication class assignment, I changed my blog’s name and reorganized the whole website. This website will no longer be active and I will share my new posts on The Justice Journey. I hope you like the new format! For feedback and questions, you can use Contact on the new website.

Best,

My Quiet Mother’s Day

When the longing is real, my mother always tells me: “Look at us! The daughter I could not send to the market, fearing something bad will happen, is now on the other side of the world. The daughter I half-heartedly sent to school, fearing other kids might push or bully her (I was a very tiny child) now lives all by herself, with no relative nearby to look after her. How come?”

“Moooooom I have friends here you know, I am not alone or anything. And my fists are pretty strong.”

“I knooow, I know. You are a badass.”

WhatsApp Image 2017-04-24 at 16.38.44
“Mom look, I am the girl in Titanic!”

Most of my friends are with their families, or at least with their mothers now, but I am not. Most of my mother’s friends are with their children now, having fancy dinners or enjoying the sunny Sunday, but she is not. When I boarded my plane, my mother and I both knew moments of melancholy like this would be unavoidable. But we both agreed to bear these emotions, because I knew all those opportunities were awaiting me in a land far, far away. And she knew it would be cruel to deprive me of a better shot at life. Maybe we cannot celebrate Mother’s Day with a fancy bottle of wine at a fancy restaurant, but we celebrate it with the sacrifices we made for one another, hopes and dreams we have for one another.

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She should have been a supermodel.

At times like this, I have the not-so-rare opportunity to reflect on my relationship with her and how much we mean to each other. Our relationship is not a typical, and certainly not an easy one (not to mention the fact that we are both Geminis). There were times where I had to be the mother and her the child that needed guidance and reassurance. And there were times I cruelly blamed her for things she had no control over and maybe even made her feel guilty and insufficient – only because I did not know who else to blame. Although these memories feel like a burden from time to time, admitting these raw emotions and primitive acts against the person who is the most dear to me helps me find the power to self-criticize when my gut frantically warns me about my mistakes.

I think this is not one-sided. Admitting my mistakes and pushing her to do the same helped us develop our relationship beyond one of a mother and her child. We, in some sense, grew up and matured together like siblings. We both learned very recently that letting go of someone dear is the ultimate display of love, despite the urging desire to be selfish. I think we are far from done though – we are still growing up, learning from and consolidating each other when we need guidance the most. And I am grateful for having such a great companion by my side, either physically or mentally, in this life-long journey.

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Mom: *Looks the other way* “I don’t know whose child this weirdo is. No, definitely not mine. Seeing her for the first time in my life.”

The Day I Witnessed War

Image Source: Pinterest

That beautiful afternoon, everyone was having a wonderful time. As I looked around the room, I saw only happy faces, smiling, eating snacks, chatting, flirting… I could also see the Sun outside the window right across the room, slowly descending to the horizon between the other long buildings. I wondered what floor I was on: maybe 20, 25? It must be quite high, the sunset looked magnificent.

Then came that odd, deafening, whistle-like sound… I scoped the room to see who felt the need to whistle that loud – did not want to miss the joke. But no one was laughing. In fact, everyone was looking around to locate the source of the sound, just like me. The next thing we heard was a crumbling, loud explosion and an unnatural, blinding brightness that surrounded the building next to ours. I was stunned at the view as someone yelled “DOWN! IT’S A MISSILE!” Out of shock, my glass slipped through my hands. I was desperately looking for a cover – a couch, a table, anything. I hid behind a couch next to a group of friends, who seemed to lose their logic: “They already hit the building next to us, they won’t hit us.” “How about going to the basement?” “We’d definitely die there, it’s good we are on this high – we actually can survive if the building collapses.” Meanwhile, I was crying, thinking of my mom and how I did not respond to the last message she had sent. Then, something hit the building.

Continue reading The Day I Witnessed War

Cats of Istanbul: A Fragmented Society’s Last Bit of Hope for Healing

Yazının Türkçesine buradan ulaşabilirsiniz.

The movie Kedi is finally on screen in Santa Barbara! I have been looking forward to watching it for the last few months, though I was also worried that it might disappoint me somehow, which is partially my fault. It simply meant more than a movie for me – more like a test for whether I missed home, and if I did, how much. A little? A lot? Not at all? When a think about it though, it seems quite unfair to cast the burden of my internal conflicts on a mere movie rather than facing them myself.

As my friend Emily and I were waiting on line, the poster caught my attention: a cat, having closed it eyes, in peace with everything happening around, or maybe just indifferent, having turned its face right at me… I could not stare back for too long, as the comfort and guilt of being away from my homeland in the midst of turmoil and uncertainty slowly began to cast its shadow on my cheerful mood. We headed inside after buying out tickets.

There were around 20 people inside, which filled me with a strange sense of pride. After a few trailers, the magnificent aerial view of Istanbul filled my eyes with tears, greeting and welcoming me back to the city I have called home for the last 23 years. For the first time in six months, I heard people other than my friends and family speak English. I did not even need to read the subtitles to understand what was going on! I let a few more drops of tears roll down my face, not giving a damn about ruining my black eyeliner. Following this, my emotional roller coaster began the second I heard the song Arkadaşım Eşşek by Barış Manço, accompanying Sari, who was walking on the streets among people’s legs, begging for food to feed her kittens. (I advise you to play the song while reading the rest of the post.)

First, I have to say this movie tells a story beyond seven colorful (both literally and personally) cats with unique personalities, Bengü, Psikopat, Duman, Aslan Parçası, Sarı, Gamsız and Deniz. Even if you don’t like cats but have already been to or want to visit Istanbul some time, I can assure you that this movie will deliver a facet of the city you can never experience as a tourist or a short-term resident. You will not only witness the lives of cats but also realize that our fears, worries, challenges are one – not as humans, but as creatures that roam this world, searching for a purpose to survive. You’ll also come to realize that preserving the identity of a city is not merely about protecting your individual or political identity. It is also about respecting and protecting the urban space of another species – seeing them as equal – that has been around since the Roman Empire. You might also find yourself capturing the commonalities with the cats as you begin to see them as equals with the human residents of Istanbul – parenthood, jealousy, laziness, loyalty, independence, freedom and death. As the woman in the movie put it: “If we can solve their problems, we can solve ours too.”

Yet, the Kedi movie helped me notice something more crucial than the urban problems: We are a fragmented society, the Turks. We are disconnected, broken, divided. We either genuinely do not care about “the other” or intentionally ignore their presence, and I do not know which is worse. For example, I need to confess something: At the beginning of the movie, when the owner of a sweatshop was talking about the cat he has been caring for more than even years, I found myself wondering whether the guy was a supporter of AKP (the current ruling party of Turkey) and felt so embarrassed. I began to wonder since when I cared more about someone’s political affiliation more than their humanity, essence and good deeds. I know that I am not the only one who feels this way. Many people in Turkey has adopted this attitude and I have been seeing a similar pattern in the United States since Trump got elected. And I am ashamed of letting political identities dominate how I perceive people and the world.

The Kedi movie was very special for helping me with this realization. I spent the first half hour trying to clear my conscience but the rest of the movie gave me so much hope, making me believe that I could heal, we could heal and my country could heal. As the movie was approaching the end, I not only connected with the cats but also with the humans who shared the stories of those cats. I left the “Us. vs them?” question aside and focused on the problems, worries, cat stories, and heart wrenching and happy anecdotes of these people I shared my city with. I watched seven cats with unique characters through the eyes of humans who I have probably never seen before and would have never met otherwise.

The Kedi movie is not only a feast for the eyes or a 70-minute-long video clip of cute cat videos. It is the story of details that define Istanbul. It is the story of people who found meaning, happiness and salvation in the cats of Istanbul. It is the collective story of a bunch of unrelated people with no commonalities other than cats.

The Kedi movie is perhaps the last bit of hope for a fragmented society that it can heal its soul and become one again despite the darkness and desperation it has been stuck in for more than a decade.

You can find the screening details and pre-order a digital copy (release date is November 14, 2017) of the movie for $14.50 on the website of Kedi.

Image credit: Kedi

As a Turkish Citizen, I Have No Sympathy for the Turkish Protesters in the Netherlands

Important: This blog has been moved to a new website, The Justice Journey. Please visit the new address to access the most recent content.

Yazının Türkçesini burada okuyabilirsiniz.

These two weeks have been a bumpy ride, to say the least, for the Turkish government in terms of foreign policy. First, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan attacked Germany, calling them Nazis, and now he did the same for the Netherlands following the cancellation of the Foreign Minister’s plane’s landing permit and the deportation of the Minister of Family to Germany. (Yes, we have a ministry that regulates family life)

Normally, I try to conduct more in-depth analysis but this time, my emotions are taking over my logic The problem is, my friends, the Turkish government now claims that Europe has turned into a tyranny, infused in authoritarianism, for doing what it already does to its own citizens on a daily basis. This disgusting hypocrisy made my sympathy completely diminish for Dutch-Turks, who gathered around the Turkish Embassy in Rotterdam and protested the Dutch government’s decision and then were attacked and dispersed by the Dutch police and water cannons.

I am truly sorry, but I have a hard time keeping the moral high ground here. I will not defend the Dutch government’s actions, but it is impossible from my moral standpoint to regard the protesters as anything other than hypocrites. Here is why:

  • Any kind of sympathy for the Turkish government is sympathy for their methods of crushing opposition and jailing politicians, journalists, academics, intellectuals by labeling them “terrorists”.
  • Even if you have no sympathy for the Turkish government but solely defend the ministers’ freedom of speech, you have to understand that they will not only simply exercise their free speech rights. They are campaigning for a referendum that proposes amendments in the constitution, which will give the Turkish president unlimited powers such as dismantling the parliament any time he wants, unlimited executive order authority and the power to appoint judges to or remove them from the Supreme Court. Furthermore, their campaign rhetoric is based on targeting the “No” voters, academics and intellectuals, accusing them of treason to the country and supporting terrorism. Because of this, every time they open their mouths, they jeopardize the safety of my friends and family.
  • The protesters in Rotterdam are dual citizens, who will most probably vote “Yes” in the referendum, validating the unlimited power granted to the president and legitimizing future oppression on Erdoğan’s dissidents. While these people enjoy their most basic rights, high-quality education and welfare systems in countries like Germany, the Netherlands and other Northern European countries, they relentlessly support a tyranny that strips the very same rights and opportunities off the Turkish citizens.
  • It is only funny to hear that most of these people do not want to return and live in Turkey, although they praise the leadership of Erdoğan and power of Turkey on every single occasion and platform. Well, if they like Turkey this much, then what stops these people from coming back?
  • While these protesters praise Erdoğan for cracking down on “traitors” “inner enemies” and “terrorists”, why are they so pissed, yelling about democracy values, when the Dutch government treats them the same way?

All political games and democracy values aside, as someone who has suffered at the hands of the Turkish government, I have no sympathy for their supporters who for the first time taste their own medicine and experience what it feels like to be oppressed just for having a stance on a cause that matters to them. Although this does not justify the Dutch police’s actions, I still have a glimpse of hope that maybe, maybe, this experience will be eye-opening for them, now that they have a first-hand experience with everything we have been already going through since the last decade.

What do you think about this ongoing diplomatic crisis? Can you sympathize for the protesters, unlike me? You can share your opinion in the comments.

Featured image credit: Carlos Latuff

Update (March 13, 2017): I understand the criticism directed to this post that there is a very diverse Turkish community in the Netherlands, which is true and should never be forgotten. Being Turkish/Dutch or Turkish/German or Turkish/X does not equate to being an Erdoğan supporter and this kind of a reductive narrative only empowers the dangerous rhetoric of ultra-nationalists like Geert Wilders. The sole focus of this post, however, is the Euro-Turkish citizens who support and protest in the name of Erdoğan. So, I had to limit my scope and could not mention the rest of the Turkish community. But I welcome the chance to share your experiences and opinions here on my blog. Please do not hesitate to share your opinion or criticism in the comments or by using Contact, so that I can respond to them here or correct myself if I made any errors.

Backlash against Emma Watson’s Vanity Fair photo shoot is more than a simple controversy

As I have been following people’s reaction to Emma Watson’s Vanity Fair photo shoot lately, I decided not to say anything because I thought it was simply not worth my time. Using someone’s nudity to discredit their feminism? How are these two even relevant, right? But today, as I was running, thoughts began to flow into my mind. I remembered a particular memory about my friend calling me in tears. She told me with a shaky voice that her ex-boyfriend was threatening to publish her very private photos on Facebook and send them to her family, unless she got back together with him. (Of course no, she did not fall for his blackmailing attempt and made him apologize afterwards.)

The last time I wrote about the nudity of celebrities, it was right after the hack of iCloud accounts and people were frantically googling Jennifer Lawrence’s private photos. At that time, I raised the question “Why don’t male celebrities’ photo leaks cause such a stir?” However, after I saw the madness following Orlando Bloom’s penis pictures, I was forced to modify my question to: “Why don’t male celebrities’ photo leaks impact their career or undermine their work as does the females’ leaks?”

Hmm. This whole thing rang a bell in my head and opened the floodgates in my mind. But we have to start our analysis from the beginning.

Continue reading Backlash against Emma Watson’s Vanity Fair photo shoot is more than a simple controversy

The Price of Freedom

Freedom always has a price.

Marjane Satrapi ends Persepolis 2 with these words. She turns around, looks at her grandmother for one last time before boarding her plane to Europe. At that moment, she says “This was the last time I saw my grandmother. She died six months later.”, adding “Freedom always has a price.”

Continue reading The Price of Freedom

Politics at UCSB Part 2: The Insider Guide to the College Republicans

I have been looking forward to writing this post since I left the Republican meeting last week. It was extremely uncomfortable that before the meeting, I felt the need to take “Black Lives Matter” and “Justice” pins off my backpack. Yet, it was still illuminating to just sit there and listen to a completely different world view, while recording everything I heard. I admit, it made me feel like a double-agent – the good kind, of course.

So, here is some insider info from possibly the most sloppy double-agent you will ever meet: Continue reading Politics at UCSB Part 2: The Insider Guide to the College Republicans