where does it hurtI’ve gotten several emails, texts and FB posts asking if I am OK after yesterday’s bombing in Istanbul. Many have said the equivalent of, “Get out of there. You’re living in a war zone.”

I understand and value their concern for me. Really, I do.

The scary part is that I’m not living in a war zone. Or at least I’m not living in an area that is any worse than anywhere else. Syria is a war zone. Egypt isn’t much better. That’s why there are so many Egyptians and Syrians here in Istanbul. The reality is that violence like this can and does happen all over the world, whether caused by ISIS, Neo-Nazis, crazed lone gunmen or radical Christians.

Nowhere is “safe.” It never has been.

I don’t understand. I can’t imagine the thoughts of someone who will strap a bomb to their body to kill people they don’t even know and themselves. I can’t fathom walking into an elementary school to kill children and teachers, knowing you are never going to walk out again. (And let me remind those who say I need to “come home” that I’m statistically safer from violence in a classroom in Istanbul than one in any city in the USA.) This senseless, needless violence breaks my heart. I cannot believe this is about religion. I can believe it has much to do with the worship of power and the love of money. I can believe it has everything to do with fear and spreading fear.

I’ve traveled to over 30 countries, so I’ve met a lot of people and experienced several cultures. The vast majority of people are good. Even at their worst, most are doing the best they can. They aren’t trying to hurt anyone. They are just trying to feed and clothe their families, keep a decent roof over their heads and indulge in a small pleasure or two. There really is little evil in the world.

But, obviously, it only takes a little.

I don’t understand someone who just wants to watch the world burn. I don’t want to.

I don’t know the answers. I don’t believe I can protect myself from this in any real way. Yes, I’m vulnerable. We all are. But I can’t let my life be governed by fear and hate. I believe the words of D.H. Lawrence:

“Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We’ve got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.”

We’ve got to LIVE, no matter how many skies have fallen. Do what you can. Do what you want without hurting someone else. Learn. Run. Cry. Laugh. Read. Share. Sing and dance, even badly. Especially, badly! See what’s around the corner, on the other side of the world. Try. Love. Find your heart’s desire, even if you lose it. Fail at things. But live….

Bomb in Istanbul’s old city center

I had this morning off and slept in for the first day in almost a month, which was really nice. My lie-in was interrupted by the refrigerator repair guy, unfortunately, so I’m not quite caught up yet. He was here 10 minutes, unplugged the fridge, so that now we don’t even have a freezer!  He said he’ll be back tomorrow. Since he didn’t show yesterday as agreed, I’m doubting he will come on time tomorrow, either. We’ve been without a fridge for five days, so, as you can imagine, I’m not having the best day ever.

And then I found out that a bomb went off in the center of the old city this morning and my problems seem ever so silly, trivial and manageable.

At least 10 are dead, more wounded. Some are foreigners, as this is the heart of the tourist district. If the map is correct, the bomb was beside Sultan Ahmet Camii, better known to us as The Blue Mosque. It’s right in the middle of a park, formerly the old hippodrome (horse racing park) of ancient Constantinople. There are priceless treasures in the spina of this park, so it’s doubly horrible. I don’t live near this area (who could afford it?) so I’m OK, but it’s frightening and sad beyond words.

Did I mention I was ready to move on?

Here is a link to a website about the blast.

This is from the U.S. Consulate General Istanbul

Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Explosion in the Sultan Ahmet area of Istanbul

January 12, 2016

U.S. Consulate General Istanbul, Turkey would like to inform U.S. citizens that Turkish news is reporting an explosion near the Sultan Ahmet area in Istanbul at approximately 10:15 a.m. this morning.   U.S. Mission Turkey is working to obtain more information.

We advise U.S. citizens to avoid that area and to exercise caution if you are in the vicinity. 

We strongly encourage U.S. citizens to maintain a high level of vigilance, be aware of local events, and take the appropriate steps to bolster your personal security.