Your Voice: Turkey and Syria: So close, so far
Headline news can sometimes seem to insulate us from the pain and suffering of others, but proximity makes it impossible in this case.
In early February, my family and I traveled to Istanbul in Turkey for a week’s vacation. It was an early morning flight — we arrived at around 9 a.m., not long after sunrise — in bright sunshine. Our assigned bus drove us toward our hotel.
Although bright, the weather was cold and there was heavy snow. We were not familiar with the freezing temperatures that endured, but it was a peaceful day and evening. We looked forward to seeing the rest of the city. Our second and third days in Turkey went by quickly, as we enjoyed the snow, the mountains, and different locations.
Then the tragedy struck. The earthquake hit southeastern Turkey, near the Syrian border, in the early hours of Monday morning. We watched the events unfold on the news, and it was not long before we started to receive messages from home asking about our safety. We were safe — Istanbul is many miles north of the epicenter — but we were very much heartbroken.
All around us, people were extremely distressed, worrying about the enormous loss of life and suffering. The heavy snow fall continued, and although we did not see tears fall, they collected in the eyes of many people. Locals and tourists alike from different regions and countries looked upset and confused, and there were no signs of joy. We, like everybody else, worried about what would happen next. We turned on the news again, watching regularly for updates.
When disaster strikes in a country or region other than our own, it’s sometimes our habit to feel removed from the suffering. Perhaps it’s a natural human coping mechanism to protect ourselves from the pain that is felt by so many people, so often, across the world.
Being in Turkey, close to this tragedy, meant it was impossible for us not to feel the pain. Physical proximity — being among the Turkish people — enabled us to empathize more completely and share at least some of the heavy pain and suffering.
To contribute to Aramco’s Syria/Turkey Earthquake Appeal, visit myhome.
Your Voice reflects the thoughts and opinions of the writer, and not necessarily those of the publication.