This land is your land

I've failed to write a post these last two weeks because my mind has been inundated with numerous possible topics, all of which seemed too massive for me to articulate. I've dreamed of pain and been preoccupied by ignorance and hate. It is not easy to attempt the role of mirror holder in a world where we have created specific technology to blur out all but ourselves in our photos. However, as one of my favorite controversial authors once said:

"Write hard and clear about what hurts"- Ernest Hemingway


When I first left America to start my journey and write my book, I must admit I didn't see much reason to ever return. Apart from my family, who I miss more and more everyday, the states didn't seem to have anything left to offer me. My own mind had been so polluted with aggravated voices piled on top of each other and violence repeated until my skin became numb to the piercing arrows of reality. Although, I quickly learned that there is no escape. Every country in the world seems to be suffering a brokenness now. Perhaps it's normal. Perhaps society needs these times of revolution in order to grow. But the one thing that sickens me the most, is our self-centric idea of change. The concept that any country must ignore their neighbors in order to tend their own wounds is inherently flawed. The United States is so afraid of immigrants that some, championed by the president, are calling for a $5.7 billion wall to be built. The UK is so afraid that they risk recession by leaving the European Union. What is it that we are so afraid of?


I've spoken to many people over the years regarding their fear of immigrants. Most seem to believe that they will lose their jobs, be forced to pay more taxes, be subject to more crime, and/or somehow lose their national identity. Despite statistics that contradict these fears, I can understand where they come from. However, I've had very different experiences. Specifically, I'd like to tell you about my experience in Turkey. I lived in Turkey for a month and a half but made all of my friends in the last week. For those of you who don't know, I was living at first in a family home in a small town near the Mediterranean Sea. I did not have the best experience at first. The family I was staying with was very kind, but many people in the town were unwelcoming to say the least. However, in my last week, I went to Istanbul and met the kindest, most generous people I have ever met. All of them were immigrants.

The majority of my new friends were Egyptian. Many were refugees. My first day in Istanbul I met Sab, who immediately took me under his wing, even inviting me to stay with him after hearing how unwelcome I had felt. He introduced me to some of the most incredible people I have ever met. They completely opened up there lives to me, this small, strange American girl who had never experienced anything like them. They told me stories of their lives, that I would love to tell you but simply can't fit in a space as small as a blog post. (I highly suggest watching "The Square" on Netflix if you are interested in learning more about the people I met. I had the honor of meeting Ahmed Hassan from the film, and I can attest that the story is unlike anything you've seen on media before). They were actors, film makers, human rights activists, former UN employees, yet they were humble. These heroes of our time, who were forced to leave their country and live as immigrants in a world which considers immigrant a dirty word, were the ones taking care of me when I felt lost and alone. These people who had suffered more than I can even comprehend simply for wanting the rights we so take for granted, were constantly making sure that I had everything I needed. Now let me ask you, if a person can lose their home, their family, and everything they've worked for yet still invite a stranger into their home, how is it that we in our safety can not allow ourselves to welcome those in need? How hard is it to see people as humans in need regardless of anything else?

I can't fix broken governments. I can't feed all the starving in the world. I can't even tell all the stories that need to be told. At least, I can't do it on my own. We have a global economy. It's about time we develop a global identity.

© 2017 by El Armstrong.