Amid reported Turkish coup and chaos, a fond memory of ordinary people

(Click on the photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)

The last 24 hours has seen some of the wildest news I can recall in a while, at least for modern nation states in Europe and its Asian-European neighbor, Turkey. I came home from work on July 14, 2016, only to be bombarded by images of a murderous rampage by a sole terrorist driver in Nice that took at last count 84 lives. Than not a day later, I returned from a walk and discovered a coup in Turkey. TurkeyCoup Report

Turkey is a modern state. It is a democracy, with rough edges. It is also a key European and U.S. ally, with a major military base (Incirlik) that serves vital Western and U.S. interests in a violent, civil-war torn region. And now there are reportedly tanks in Istanbul, helicopter gunfire ships strafing government sites in the capital, and people being shot during protests as part of a reported military coup to overthrow Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It is hard to know the full truth. There are many real and also fake Tweets, so I will just see how this plays out.

This all makes me think of the time I went to Nice in 1985, while studying in France. I walked the Promenade Anglais, where the horrific attack took place during a celebration of Bastille Day. I cannot imagine what happened in my mind’s eye. And I was in Turkey in 2000, in places now cropping up by the second on the latest Tweets from the front lines of a reported coup. So today I just decided to publish a picture that brings me a sense of calm. It is a picture I took just before I left Turkey, taking a boat to Samos, Greece. This was a family I met at a local restaurant. We enjoyed each other’s company. They were not that different from me. They were struggling to run a small business and live a good life. I am wondering about them and the many other people I met in Nice and in Turkey right now.

Steady leadership is now needed from the people entrusted to lead. I have faith in my leader now to do that. But these times are straining democracies and reason, I am concerned cooler heads will be challenged to prevail.

 

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