The delicate nature of peace work
For a long time now, I have watched members of all of Cyprus’ diverse communities work tirelessly for ‘peace’.
Watching these people work so tirelessly and with such passion, played a very big part in my own eventual involvement in this world. Their staunch commitment in such difficult and sometimes unrewarding circumstances was inspiring and admirable.
There are people who have been involved in peace work, in Cyprus at least, for as long as they physically could be. A very dear friend of mine has been involved since 1996, when Greek and Turkish Cypriots could not even dream of meeting each other on their own soil, perhaps not even on their own terms. They had to travel north to colder climes, where their work was mediated, and where their language was not their own.*
I admire them; how could I not. I continue to admire them.
With their brave and determined initiatives, these people have paved the way for everyone and everything that followed. They have even paved the way for this blog and most importantly, for its acceptance, as a form of expression on an island where identity is fraught with confusion (for some at least).
However, this is a world where emotions run high due to the nature of the work: every word, every move is laced with emotion. The wrong word, the wrong move, they can all be easily misconstrued.
I wanted so desperately to be a part of that world. However, I wanted to contribute in my own way. The pertinent question was, how?
My first step into this whirlpool of emotions was my blog: ‘My Cyprus, my Κύπρος, my Kıbrıs’.
As I’ve mentioned countless times (here, here and here), I have always felt that my identity lies in a kind of in between space (much like the buffer zone, if you will), a grey area, neither Turk nor Greek, especially as I have never felt that I could totally relate to Turkish Cypriots of the north.
Even while I write this, I am aware of keeping my words in check. I have no doubt that my use of the terms Turk/Greek may prove irksome for some.
My blog is my own very unique contribution, my own action in a world filled with people and organisations desperate to make a difference. However, it is the action of a lone wolf…….
*I would love to hear about your own experience in peace building/work – the positive and the negative!
- My summer in the buffer zone
- It’s just a dream, right?
I love your blog, and your article in the latest Friends of Cyprus report (2018).
I only think the terms ‘Greek’ and ‘Turk’ are wrong if they deny the fact that they are CYPRIOTS.
I always think of Cypriots as either Greek or Turkish speaking (though some older ones know both languages).
So on balance the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot moniker is OK , but using just ‘Greek’ or ‘Turk’ implies Cypriots are somehow second class versions of those who speak the same language but live in Greece or Turkey…..
Not a lone wolf, Natalie, but a lone, wild dove. The kind of work you have been doing: cross-boundary conversations in circle, trying to remember the past in all its complexity, hoping with the vision of cooperative humanity, and repairing injury whenever possible. We are living in a time of renewed fear everywhere, which always feeds the forces of violence. It is a cliche, but loving our countries — all of them– is still the work of life and peace. Onward, in greater light. Thank you for yours.