China and Japan are two nations that have very little love for each other. They are both Asians and have similar, and yet in some ways, very different cultures and value systems. Yet they would not give a dime for each other. Arabs and Israel have their differences and it's no secret that this one is even more bitter and hostile. Sadly we all have to admit there are more instances of grudge relationships, than we really would like to see.
Take the Turks and the Armenians, for example. This one has been a real doozy. This goes a long way back and still brings out resentment and hostility in the meekest of people that live in either of these two countries. It's definitely a mess and things didn't look to good the other day, when Hrant Dink was killed.
But this story in the IHT caught my eye, today.
ISTANBUL: Armenian spiritual and political figures from around the world on Monday accepted an extraordinary invitation from Turkey to attend the funeral of the founder of an Armenian- Turkish newspaper, Hrant Dink, who was killed outside his office Friday, officials said Monday.
The slaying has prompted an outburst of public demonstrations and has begun to suggest a warming of ties after a near century of animosity between Turks and Armenians.
Armenia is to send a deputy foreign minister to the funeral, Arman Kirakossian. The archbishop of the Armenian Church of America, Khajag Barsamyan, also accepted the government's invitation.
Earlier, the Armenian defense minister, Serzh Sarkisyan, called for improved relations so that Armenia could "establish ties with Turkey with no preconditions," according to the Turkish news channel NTV.
Little things like this are things that can be used to start a dialogue, which can always lead to an understanding. But if I may stress so, it can only happen if the parties can bury self-interests, preconceived notions, and deeply embedded values and prejudices that beget mistrust, hostility, and even violence.
Unfortunately, not everyone can accept this way of thinking as a valid alternative to hate and violence. Some even invent stories and advance them with little or no proof.
Sevket Kazan, Deputy of the Saadet Party (SP) of Turkey, argued that the CIA and Mossad planned and organised the murder against the Armenian Turkish journalist Hrant Dink.
It's not overly surprising that the Mossad and CIA cards are being played so early. They often get pulled out by unreasonable people.
But let's consider something here. No one in their right mind can believe that the Mossad and CIA has not had their hands into some unsavory stuff, that would be the ultimate indicator that someone is quite naive, to say the least. But, when the first inclination is to accuse without evidence, we have problems. When we advance theories that are not sound, we see escalation of tensions and sometimes war.
Now it's a pretty safe bet that as a result of this accusation, people who already are biased are going to be even more so and no one or nothing will likely convince them differently. But the real issue is, those that are struggling to get at the truth, those that sit on the fence and are easily influenced, can be (and sometimes are) deceived into adopting these kinds of falsehoods and internalize them as factual information. In fact it happens so much, once they are indoctrinated, they are not easily swayed into any sense of reality or truth.
But be that as it may, this situation in Turkey could be a burning fuse just waiting to explode, as is evidenced by the long history and the recent killing of Dank. So in this situation, we see Mr. Kazan pouring fuel on the fire to make the fuse burn faster. We also see those that are attempting to reach out and show some display of good-will, by allowing Armenians to attend Mr Dank's funeral. Which is to say, they are trying to slow the fuse down.
For this reason, I wish to commend those responsible for this effort to embrace their long-time adversaries (even if it is minimally so) and wholly encourage them to make the best of this situation. It also my hope that they can look past old patterns of hostile behavior and look to the future, instead of licking old wounds and picking their scabs. Both sides can use this as a stepping stone for a better understanding and hopefully start the journey towards some measure of forgiveness and reconciliation.
That's a tall order, I know. But this is a good start.
What a world we could live in, if this were the model used by all old adversaries.