Turkish Tuesdays, and Being an American when it hurts

(Originally posted in 2020, updated for the current pain:)

The Turkish book I’m currently reading is mentioned below the short incident on Judging on the Side of Merit.


I was thinking of an episode of a show, Magnificent Century, from Turkey that has been quite popular in many Spanish-speaking countries, and how much I love an early episode showing the entry of the young Sultan Suleyman (The Lawgiver, to the Turks, but known in the west as:) The Magnificent.  His new subjects shout as he rides by: “Remember that you are not greater than God!”  and the young ruler takes his duty seriously, alleviating several glowering injustices on his first day as Sultan.  Yet, I had some experiences when I lived in Turkey that show how defensive any ordinary person can be, seeing another person who seems to represent some injustice. 

I wonder how I would react now, to this same situation:


I was just reading the comments of the founder of NVC on reactions in a refugee camp.  It struck me that those reactions were the same as the reactions to me in Izmir.  When I lived in Izmir (in 2005, from March to November), teaching English, one day one of my neighbors saw me walking up the stairs toward our building, and she took my arm (as women often do in Turkey) to walk with me and talk.  But her talk was more of a harangue.  She let loose on me about how my government was blaming them for a genocide which they insist did not happen, and that it was all very hypocritical, particularly when the US operates Guantanamo.  I was thunderstruck that she would hold me, a person who had left my country of origin to find a job elsewhere, and to whom she could direct this rant only because I was one of the rare expatriats to spend the time and effort to learn Turkish, responsible for the Apology request.  So, unfortunately, I responded defensively, pointing out that I personally had nothing to do with my government policies, did not agree with much of those policies, and had not voted for the administration then in power!  None of those defensive arguments changed her speech.  Now I see that, like the man in the camp, she needed to vent.  I wonder if, had I allowed her to vent, simply listening and validating what she needed to say to any random American, would that incident and relationship have ended more positively?
Read, Write, Dream, Teach !

 from: 20 March, 12016 HE

So, it turns out that people all around the world can be both kind yet also defensive, sometimes at the same time. There is a Jewish concept called Dan LeChaf Zechut: Judge on the Side of Merit, or as we’d say, Give the Benefit of the Doubt.  I shall try harder to do that these days.

Oh, and I’ve just started a kids story called Küçük Kara Balık by Samad Behrangi in Turkish: page 1, and I’ve already got 5 words to look up!

September 29, 2020 –page 1

1.67% “So far, I get that an old fish tells his 12 kids & grandkids a story.
Irmakta (hmm: https://elon.io/learn-turkish/lexicon… … ırmak…)

kayadan, … kaya
vadinin… vadi
akmak: https://context.reverso.net/translati…

More on my continuing striving with Turkish next week.

Yassas,   γεια σας!    Salût !  Nos vemos!  Görüşürüz!     ! שָׁלוֹם

Action Items in support of literacy and hope that you can take right now:

1.) Search and share  two different resources to translate the word “Justice” into Turkish.

2.) Share your thoughts on how you like each of the resources you found,  perhaps as an update on your GoodReads reading,

4.) Write a story, blog post or tweet that uses a Turkish word.

Share your thoughts on how language learning may encourage empathy-building cooperation, and might help, or hinder, inclusive thinking.

2.) Write a story, post or tweet that uses those thoughts.


Click here to read, if you like:

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Holistic High School Lessons,

           or Long Range Plans, & Historical Fiction Serial Stories

Thoughtful Readers, if you are on Twitter, please consider following   #Project Do Better  on Twitter.


Shira Destinie Jones’ work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


13 thoughts on “Turkish Tuesdays, and Being an American when it hurts

  1. When I worked in Izmir, in 2005, a had a friend who called, on September 9th, from Athens. She’d expected to hit my answering machine, but upon finding me home that day, I told her that it was a holiday. She then spend quite a bit of time explaining to me that the fire which my colleagues had called “accidental” was, in the Greek mind, not an accident, and that this holiday commemorated, for Greeks, the loss of the “Pearl of the Aegean” which had been Smyrna. None of my neighbors would talk about it, so I had to content myself with the official story versus the angry Greek reply.

    Liked by 1 person

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