Empathy

Author: Cagla Comert; Translation: Tania Bahar; Editing: Levent Çınar

The moment we become human is the moment we feel somebody’s pain deep inside. Even though empathy is an inherent ability, since it is dysfunctional in the existential struggle within the system and works against us while pursuing trivial interests, all our efforts are about being as insensitive as possible despite our incessant complaints about the insensitivity of others.  We tend to think ourselves as strong as we are merciless. The environment determines the way the mercilessness is applied. When we see someone somewhat inharmonious or vulnerable, we find her/him strange, naive and silly. We become proud of ourselves when the person becomes normalized, as told in the story of Dülger Balığının Ölümü (The Death of the Dory) written by Sait Faik; we celebrate the day we habituate the fish to our water. To question “the normal” or the normalities that we become conditioned to is something we don’t even to think about. We are afraid of acknowledging the fact that “the normal” is merely a gun pointed at the life and that the accepted “truths” are just nonsense. It is mainly this fear that keeps the system working. Our prejudices are our fears.

I felt deep sadness and abhorrence when I read the death of the Italian artist Pippa Bacca who started out her journey for the peace with a wedding dress. At the same time, my mind was saying to me, tragically enough that the end of this story is “normal”. That was the “truths” of the country. To hitchhike as a lonely woman, beside its “immorality”, was “foolhardiness” regardless of its aim. Wasn’t it the reason that I was told not to come home late or not to dress provocatively since my teenage years? The answer to my effort of challenge was always the same; you cannot change the society, you should be keeping in step with it. I don’t even want to think the reaction of my father to her own daughter saying that she will start a journey for the peace with her wedding dress just like Bacca.

I can imagine the expression on the face of a person who already had his/her share of insensitivity while I am telling the project of Pippa Bacca. People who find it normal to kill for the peace find it weird and meaningless for an artist to hitchhike for the peace. They seek for ulterior motives. For them, ulterior motive is the normal. We act for money and for prestige but we don’t risk ourselves for peace. The reason for that is simply because we cannot feel deep inside somebody’s pain. I remember the short news I read a couple of years ago. That was the news of a genius child’s suicide. The child wrote in the letter he left behind: “I feel all the pain of the world deep inside, but I cannot do anything.”

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