In the interest of civil conversations or may be just for quiet contemplation, perhaps whilst on holiday or for those who live in Cyprus or who have made Cyprus their home. This blog isn’t exactly a post for a holiday blog but I currently don’t have an alternative platform. Perhaps you may be interested in some civil conversation, perhaps not.
Diversity is one of humanity’s greatest and most misunderstood strengths. I believe we can value a multiplicity of beliefs and come to some shared agreements about the importance of engaging with each other from a place of civility and mutual respect, which is what leads us to powerful new solutions.
I feel compelled to write about the unhealthy discourse often found on social media about the situation that Cyprus finds itself in at present. Without any political agenda for one side or the other, I often wonder why after 50 years the two sides cannot still put there differences aside. I find myself asking why this blame game still continues and is there no other way to heal the wounds of the past. Whilst we cannot change what has happened surely now 50 years on the people should be asking some much deeper moral questions.
I am in fact, only a onlooker to such historical events and cannot for one minute imagine what it would be like being in the midst of war and the evil that exists within or what compels men to want to protect their existence by killing another human being. Nor am I of any religious affiliation. I am however, drawn to the fate of living amongst a divided nation, whose disdain for one another drives me insane and at best pushes me to try to have some understanding and some dialect for encouraging some moral rhetoric. Surely we can draw on the human instinct to keep the possibility of living together alive or are we so stuck in negative default mode, democratised by our nation state that no-one can see a way out. Are we so unable to hear another's voice, to create civil dialogue with our neighbours, to hold space for the suffering encountered and to stand up for change.
“There is no them. There is only us.” It’s ridiculous and, in some ways, a folly to say, “Can’t we all just get along?” But it is the truest thing that I don’t understand why we can’t. I don’t quite comprehend the need for insult, the need for paranoia and aggression. LUIS URREA
There is a political and moral crisis about what the country is and who its citizens are and this makes us all vulnerable. It has also made the people protective of each other's nationality and each side tends to respond to the vulnerability in a way that is punitive to each other. Their vulnerability is in the current system itself. The North have been forced by the embargoes to a place where the people no longer have entitlements or presence. Where their rights have been eroded and the more interconnected the world gets, the more global it gets, the harder it is to become integrated and in turn the South has become globalized. It's interests lies with the accumulation of capital and expansion. Which has produced more inequality and has increased the divide.
Don’t we all care about justice, compassion and truth. The economic system is built on a system of producing wealth wherever possible, this produces a system that doesn’t care and one that is built on deception. Which makes us ignore the truth and resist the very thing that will set us all free.
Sharon Salberg who writes for the Onbeing project says we can be strongly conditioned, in the abstract, to think of others in terms of stereotypes. The use of stereotypes may be an evolutionary survival strategy for us to make sense of an immeasurably chaotic world, but it is also a cultural habit that creates psychological distance for each and every one of us. Thinking in rigid categories of projection locks us into a dynamic of seeing the world in terms of Us-versus-Them. We create and then demonize an “other” out of nothing: no connection, no relationship, no knowledge of someone’s hopes and fears, their dreams and their sorrows.
This sense of division, isolation, and separateness from others that we tend to take as fact is actually bred by our minds. With habitual ways of thinking, we create the fiction of being completely separate from anyone seen as different. That disconnect may provide a superficial sense of control, but we ultimately make ourselves more and more isolated. As a result, we find ourselves increasingly objectifying particular individuals or entire groups of people — either through antipathy, through prejudice, or even just through indifference. We start living in a world of mental projections, a world without substance, without dimensionality. When there is no substance, when there are only shadows and ghosts born from our minds, there is no sense of real connection. When there is no dimensionality, there is no chance for real understanding.
Our society also perpetuates a dualistic worldview of who is like us and who isn’t. Not only does seeing the world in these terms keep us at arms length from other people, it also places our own sense of who we are in a box. We then feel a tighter grip on our habitual assumptions that tend to inform the way we act and define ourselves. Instead, we can learn to gain insight into our fundamental connectedness, and liberate ourselves from the impulse to only understand the world in terms of boundaries and labels.
It turns out that proximity leads to understanding. According to a recent study, longer-term interpersonal contact between hostile groups counteracts biases by letting people get to know one another as individuals, rather than as parts of a group. Thomas F. Pettigrew, a research professor of social psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, analyzed more than 500 studies on intergroup contact. In this research, he found that even in areas where ethnic groups were in conflict and viewed one another through lenses of negative stereotypes, individuals who had close friends within the other group exhibited little or no such prejudice. They seemed to realize the many ways those formerly demonized “others” were “just like me.”
If we sit with somebody and laugh — not at them, but laugh with them wholeheartedly, how in the world can you get up from that table and say, “Pssh, those people.” You can’t. And if you’ve laughed with them, you’re going to cry with them too. That laughter is a very dangerous portal for humanity. We need to be able to enjoy each other’s point of view, even if we don’t agree with it. And when we can’t, we are in serious, serious trouble. And we’ve seen what the world is like, over and over again, when you must be silent. It’s not good. LUIS URREA
So where do we go from here, it is easy to feel that as individuals our efforts won’t make a difference. The truth is that every choice we make does make a difference. To others and to ourselves. We need to see those who we consider different from us as fellow human beings and not just a group of people lacking an identity or personality of their own. With awareness we can create a better island for everyone. We can cultivate collaboration and full respect for ourselves and our own autonomy, as well as for the freedom of those around us. These should be are guiding principles. We should approach all obstacles in life as opportunities for developing compassion, creativity and resilience.
There are those who will always fight back, using disinformation, scare tactics and propaganda in an attempt to invalidate the evolutionary messages because it is economically viable for them to do so but awareness opens the doors to social change and people of integrity demand change. Powerful change is happening right now, around the world, as more and more people are opening their minds to more meaningful ways of living. We are seeing this in the social justice movements. The message is clear, we need to create a world built on compassion rather than cruelty, empathy rather than apathy, authenticity rather than dishonesty and justice rather than oppression.
For me, the question of democracy also opens up the question of what does it mean to be truly human. And it seems to me that we need to recognize that to develop the best
humanity, the best spirit, the best community, there needs to be discipline, practices of exploring. How do you do that? How do we work together? How do we talk together in ways that will open up
our best capacities and our best gifts? - VINCENT HARDING
Awareness can be healing for all of us. We can make choices that reflex what we authentically think and feel, we can make choices on how we wish to live with our fellow human beings. Those choices are yours choices and we can all make a difference.
Our job is to go out and feel things for people, then to come back and tell them how it feels to be alive. Because we are numb. Because we have forgotten. You go out to feel things about the boundaries between humans and the borders we build between ourselves.
Imagine that … after a meaningful conversation, two people could actually have increased mutual understanding, greater mutual respect, and better connection, but still completely
disagree. This is very different from avoiding a conversation and not learning more about the other party.
The focus should be on how do we want our relationship to be going forward, and what do we need to do, even if we still disagree, to create that future? What do we want for our family in the future … or for our team, or our faith community, or our industry? This shift in focus does not necessarily mean we agree, but it may help us identify agreement about a shared future that we want to create together.
Change comes about at the margins. People in the center are not going to be the big change makers. You’ve got to put yourself at the margins and be willing to risk in order to make change. But more importantly, you have got to approach differences with this notion that there is good in the other. That’s it. And if we can’t figure out how to do that — if there isn’t the crack in the middle where there’s some people on both sides who absolutely refuse to see the other as evil, this is going to continue. FRANCES KISSLING
So then the question is, how are we going to have a community that is hospitable, that is going to work in terms of protecting rights? The question is how does Cyprus start to have these civil conversations?
In researching this article I came across some guidance drawn from the Civil Conversations Project at http://www.civilconversationsproject.org. There are some very interesting podcasts available for those who want to dig deeper into the conversation. The Civil Conversations Project is a collection of audio, video, writings, and resources for planting new conversations in families and communities. How do we speak the questions we don’t know how to ask each other? Can we find ways to cross gulfs between us about politics and the meaning of community itself? How to engage our neighbors who have become strangers? Can we do that even while we continue to hold passionate disagreements on deep, contrasting convictions? How is technology playing into all this, and how can we shape it to human purposes? You will have your own questions, particular to your community and concerns to add.
Krista Tippett from the onbeing project writes that approaching civility can be an adventure, it isn’t an exercise in niceness, it is a departure from ways of being and interacting that aren’t serving our age of change.
By gathering like minded people. Not with the intent to reach any resolution or conclusions but by creating and renewing common life. No one will be advocating to bring others to see things their way. No one will feel pressured to give up the ground they stand on. There is value in learning to speak together honestly and relate to each other with dignity, without rushing to common ground that would leave all the hard questions hanging. If we can learn to speak differently together then maybe we can learn to live together differently.
What questions would you like to pose and hold with others in the period ahead? This inquiry in itself is critical, and it deserves time and care and cultivation. You might feel called to address a particular issue or challenge in your direct community. You might want to attend to nurturing courage and resilience for the life and work in which you and others are already engaged. You might feel called most urgently to address different others in your community on a human level, humanising the issues or putting your differences to one side while coming to know each other as people. And of course all of these longings and aims can find expression in the same process over time.
Our young century is awash with questions of meaning, of how we structure our common life, and who we are to each other. It seems we are more divided than ever before, unable to speak across the differences we must engage to create the world we want for ourselves and our children.
Yet you and I have it in us to be nourishers of discernment, fermenters of healing. We have the language, the tools, the virtues and the calling, as human beings, to create hospitable spaces for taking up the hard questions of our time.
This calling is too important and life-giving to wait for politics or media at their worst to come around. We can discover how to calm fear and plant the seeds of the robust civil society we desire and that our age demands.
This is civic work and it is human work, in the most expansive 21st century sense of that language. We can learn for our time what moral imagination, social healing, and civil discourse can look like and how it can take work.
Public life is bigger than political life. We have narrowly equated the two in recent years, and we’ve impoverished ourselves in the process. Public life includes all of our disciplines and endeavors, including our selves as citizens and professional people and neighbours and parents and friends. The places we’ve looked for leadership and modeling have become some of the most broken in our midst. And so it is up to us, where we live, to start having the conversations we want to be hearing and creating the realities we want to inhabit.
This wisdom is possible in life and in society, it emerges precisely through those moments when we have to hold seemingly opposing realities in a creative tension and interplay: power and frailty, birth and death, pain and hope, beauty and brokenness, mystery and conviction, calm and erceness, mine and yours.
Who is free and who is the prisoner?”
So, what exactly is that border for, then?
If you are living in North Cyprus and want to contribute in any way to the civil conversation please join the UNITE CYPRUS NOW Facebook page or visit their website at www.unitecyprusnow.org.
PRESS RELEASE - 15.07.2018
(Scroll down for GR and TR translations)
UniteCyprusNow calls for an honest conversation about events of July 1974
July is a difficult month for Cyprus. This year we mark the 44th anniversary of the tragic events of 15 July and 20 July 1974. Although these events may carry different meanings for different people, they brought indescribable pain to all Cypriots, having led to the death and displacement of many, and having torn our homeland apart.
Today, UniteCyprusNow asks Cypriots of all communities including our leaders to start engaging in an honest conversation about our own part in the bloodshed and division, the pain we have inflicted on each other, and the role Turkey and Greece played in our sufferings. Without such a conversation, we will be stuck in an endless cycle of the past, holding us back from building a better future.
The anniversaries should serve as a reminder that we, Cypriots, need to acknowledge that our past is filled with common sufferings, mistakes and injustices. We will only be able to build a better future by facing our past, recognising our own mistakes, acknowledging each other’s pain, and offering forgiveness.
It is ultimately up to us to lead the way forward to uniting our country, so that we don’t hand down a divided island marred by hatred, enmity and nationalism to the next generations.
Join us by signing up on www.unitecyprusnow.org and help us unite our country and its people.
ΔΕΛΤΙΟ ΤΥΠΟΥ - 15.07.2018
H UniteCyprusNow καλεί σε μία ειλικρινή συζήτηση για τα γεγονότα του Ιούλιου 1974
Ο Ιούλης είναι ένας δύσκολος μήνας για την Κύπρο. Αυτή η χρονιά σηματοδοτεί την 44η επέτειο των τραγικών γεγονότων της 15ης και 20ης Ιουλίου 1974. Παρ’όλο που αυτά τα γεγονότα μπορεί να έχουν διαφορετικό νόημα για τον καθένα, έχουν προκαλέσει απερίγραπτο πόνο σε όλους τους Κυπρίους, έχοντας οδηγήσει πολλούς στον θάνατο και στον εκτοπισμό και έχοντας μοιράσει την πατρίδα μας.
Σήμερα, η UniteCyprusNow ζητά από τους Κυπρίους όλων των κοινοτήτων, συμπεριλαμβανομένων και των ηγετών μας, να εμπλακούν σε μια ειλικρινή συζήτηση για το δικό μας μερίδιο ευθύνης στην αιματοχυσία και τη διαίρεση, για τον πόνο που έχουμε προκαλέσει ο ένας στον άλλο και για τον ρόλο που η Τουρκία και η Ελλάδα έχουν διαδραματίσει στα δεινά μας. Χωρίς μια τέτοια συζήτηση, θα παραμείνουμε καθηλωμένοι στον φαύλο κύκλο του παρελθόντος που δεν θα μας επιτρέπει να χτίσουμε ένα καλύτερο αύριο.
Οι επετείοι πρέπει να μας υπενθυμίζουν ότι εμείς, οι Κύπριοι, οφείλουμε να αναγνωρίσουμε ότι το παρελθόν μας είναι γεμάτο με κοινά δεινά, λάθη και αδικίες. Ο μόνος τρόπος για να μπορέσουμε να χτίσουμε ένα καλύτερο μέλλον είναι αντικρίζοντας το παρελθόν μας, παραδεχόμενοι τα δικά μας λάθη, αναγνωρίζοντας τον πόνο του άλλου και συγχωρώντας.
Εναπόκειται σε μας τελικά να δείξουμε τον δρόμο προς την ένωση της πατρίδας μας για να μην παραδώσουμε ένα διαιρεμένο νησί, γεμάτο μίσος, έχθρα και εθνικισμό στις επόμενες γενιές.
Εγγραφείτε στο www.unitecyprusnow.org και ελάτε μαζί μας, βοηθείστε μας να ενώσουμε την πατρίδα μας και τους ανθρώπους της.
BASIN BİLDİRİSİ - 15.07.2018
Temmuz 1974 olayları ile ilgili samimi bir tartışma başlamalıdır
Temmuz Kıbrıs için zor bir aydır. Bu yıl, 15 Temmuz ve 20 Temmuz 1974 trajik olaylarının 44. yıldönümüdür. Farklı insanlar için farklı anlamlar taşısalar da, bu olaylar, birçok insanın hayatını kaybetmesine, yerinden olmasına ve ülkemizin bölünmesine neden olmuş ve tüm Kıbrıslılara anlatılmaz acılar vermiştir.
Bugün UniteCyprusNow olarak, Kıbrıs’taki tüm toplumlara ve liderlere, dökülen kandaki ve ülkemizin bölünmesindeki payımız, birbirimize yaşattığımız ıstıraplar, ve Türkiye ve Yunanistan’ın bu acıda oynadığı rol ile ilgili samimi bir tartışma başlatmaları çağrısı yapmaktayız. Böyle bir tartışma olmaksızın, geçmişin bitmez döngüsüne çakılıp kalacak ve daha iyi bir gelecek kurmakta başarısız olacağız.
Söz konusu yıldönümleri, biz Kıbrıslılara, geçmişimizin ortak acılar, hatalar ve haksızlıklarla dolu olduğunu hatırlatmalıdır. Ancak geçmişimizle yüzleşerek, hatalarımızı kabul ederek, birbirimizin acılarını tanıyarak ve affederek daha iyi bir gelecek kurabiliriz.
Gelecek nesillere nefret, düşmanlık ve milliyetçilik ile lekeli bölünmüş bir ada bırakmamak, ve ülkemizi birleştirmek için öncülük etmek bizim elimizdedir.
www.unitecyprusnow.org web sitemize kaydolarak bize katılın ve ülkemizi ve insanlarımızı birleştirme çabalarımıza yardımcı olun.