Friday in Santa Fe

02010-02-19 | Photos | 7 comments

Yesterday I finished a very good book, The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Safak. I very highly recommend it. (((I read the Kindle edition on my iPhone)))

Elif Safak is doing a book tour in March and you can find the dates here. She is a brave woman – see this wikipedia entry:

Safak’s second novel written in English is The Bastard of Istanbul (a literal Turkish translation of the title would be “The Father and the Bastard”), which was the bestselling book of 2006 in Turkey. The novel brought Safak under prosecution by the Turkish government for “insulting Turkishness” under Article 301 of the Turkish Criminal Code. The charges stemmed from a statement made by a character in her novel, who characterized the massacres of Armenians in World War I as genocide.

In response, Safak noted that “the way ultranationalists are trying to penetrate the domain of art and literature is quite new, and quite disturbing.” The charges were ultimately dismissed.

Maybe you are wondering what connects this book to the above images I captured early on Friday Morning? The photographs were taken at the Santa Fe monument commemorating the internment of Japanese-Americans during WW2. (more info: Justice Department’s Prison Camp Remembered and Executive Order 9066)

I think there is this very interesting thing that happens with history… we have to remember, in order not to make the same mistake again and in order to gain perspective, but at the other end of that rememberence can lurk racism, among other dangers. I mean, one can’t seem to meet a person of Armenian heritage who doesn’t hate the Turkish without ever having known a Turk or ever having been there.

I want to remember those moments in our collective history:
the Armenian massacres in Turkey in 1915
the Nanjing massacre from 1937 (also known as the Rape of Nanking, it refers to a six-week period following the Japanese capture of the city of Nanjing (Nanking), the former capital of the Republic of China)
the holocaust in Germany 1938-1945

No, I am not going to list them all… it would take too many pages…

So, how do we hold this knowledge in our heart without letting it poison us… The unbearable lightness of being… Bearing witness without letting it stain any present or future relations. Difficult, for sure, but also important, I feel.

I visit the Santa Fe monument that commemorates the Japanese internment every year. If I lived nearby I would also visit Auschwitz and the Nanjing Memorial Hall regularly.

I also realize that these things are in our lives every single day. On a different scale, to be sure, but it shows in how we treat each other, how we think of one another.


  1. Panj

    After leaving Bavaria at about the age of 13, having already demanded and allowed to see some actual photos of the opening of several concentrations camps…i used to write long letters to my friends back ‘home’ in Augsburg and i remember i always signed each letter with the sign off of ‘Remember to Love ALWAYS’…seemed like the only cure for such happenings. Of course i did also become quite a lil militant concerning NOT following anyone’s words or personality…perhaps a permanent skeptic.

  2. Carol

    Maybe I’m taling through my hat but….I think that
    especially now it is important to remember, and to learn what leads up to such inhumanity to others. We’re not immune. So many nations are hurting economically and feeling the need and fear and some place to lay the blame..Then it’s easy to look for a savior to save us. One who we trust so much we are blind to the way he leads, and as he turns to hate and blame and retribution, so do his followers, not even understanding what they’ve been led to believe.
    Panj, Thank you.

  3. Carol

    But better we should help everyone with compassion. I hope we will.

  4. Brenda

    “So, how do we hold this knowledge in our heart without letting it poison us…” This knowledge you speak of other people’s Evil and Hate will poison us, if stored within a dwelling place of our hearts. We should not forget this hate but learn the process of forgiveness which is love. “Difficult, for sure, but also important, I feel.” Yes, difficult journey is forgiveness that becomes the freedom of love within a heart.

  5. Panj

    <> … so true, especially forgiveness of wrongs directed to oneself. Love the way you phrased that..”freedom of love within the heart”. You are welcome Carol, for what I am not quite sure…looks like we agree on a lot..:-)

  6. Boris

    @ Panj: Simply because I just read it, a wave from the distance from somebody who lived in Augsburg for 6 years (1997-2003) and grew up appr. 100km south. Every school kid visits Dachau at least once, and when you belong to a church at least twice before you become an adult. The rest is up to you. I have been there a couple of times. Most impressing (or better: depressing) is the photographic documentation, plus, of course, the site where they burnt the bodies. Most of the barracks where the prisoners stayed, are gone, though, which gives the whole area a much more open atmosphere than it actually was. It is weird to go there on a lovely spring or summer day. In a sense we kind of imagine that time as having been black/white, dark, cold, frozen. You have a hard time grasping the horror humans a capable of doing when you hear the birds sing. But it is always only a footstep away. It is a very fragil world after all.

  7. Carol

    Panj, I agree. I think we may know each other a little by now since we both were commenting to Ottmar way back on Pandora’s box.


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