Istanbullies

womaninredMy thoughts this week have been with the people of Turkey. Apologies if this sounds like the Queen’s Christmas Message, it really won’t be. Last week a peaceful protest against the demolition of a park in Istanbul (a city with little enough green) was met with such excessive force by their police that hundreds of thousands of other normal, peace-loving people decided they just had to join in. These demonstrations have hardly been covered in the national Turkish media, but social and foreign media have been abuzz with them – at least until the Turkish authorities apparently started blocking them. It now seems even more important to keep spreading the word.

I care a great deal about Turkey and especially Istanbul, not as part of my mini crusade for its positively Muslim associations nor for its undeniable beauty and vibrancy as a city but because it’s where the Wave and I met, worked and lived together in the late 1990s when we were sparky young TEFL teachers (him anyway) at the English Centre. It seems a lifetime ago, and I suppose if you happen to be 17 or younger, it undoubtedly is!  It was there we also made some of our biggest bestest forever friendships, with people who also went on to live and make families together. For all of us, Istanbul was like some great big urban petri dish producing a heady culture of like-minded love, creative teaching methods and party-fuelled fun. Although most of us only see each other once every few months, and less for those who still live abroad, we remain, and many of our children have become, true friends.

So it with great sadness that we are witnessing the root of our lives together being ripped up and rubbished by its own custodians. Hopefully it is an opportunity for the authorities to sit up and notice what they need to do differently, and how.

There are resonances closer to home too. We have just started our NVR (non-violent resistance) Training, a home-based programme for dealing with children with extreme challenging behaviour, borne out of Gandhi and Martin Luther Kings’ protests against oppression. Our young oppressor is not quite ‘the authority’ in the house, but he would sometimes like to be. And there are already small signs that things might be improving through lots of regular therapy for Blue and our initial attempts at de-escalation, although we haven’t quite started our own non-violent protests yet. What is refreshing is that, like the Turkish uprising, the NVR training is all about us,  the Wave and I, reclaiming our parental ‘presence’ in the face of relentless abuse at home, simply by showing how much we love our children. There are strategies afoot! We are hopeful! Watch this space.

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