Saturday, 8 June 2013
Dancing in the sunshine, beneath the silver linings
The summer sun continued to shine today. I was working for much of the day with students on the Reader and Foundation courses. But in between lectures and seminars, I had an hour or so on the front lawn, reading the Guardian and other weekend newspapers, sipping a cup of coffee slowly in the sunshine.
Reading the newspapers, it is difficult to judge yet whether the news from Turkey is encouraging or depressing. Has Gezi Park become Turkey’s Tahrir Square? What started as a protest about trees in inner city Istanbul has become a nation-wide protest demanding change, with the protests spreading to Ankara, Izmir, Antakya and other cities.
Could the Arab Spring be matched by a Turkish summer?
The danger on the one hand, is that all this could be beaten down by a government that appears to be willing to resort to strong-arm tactics, or, on the other, that it could be hijacked by right-wing Kemalists and nationalists or by groups like those who have hijacked the revolution in neighbouring Syria.
As I went back in from the sun to talk about Church History and the developments of Creeds and the Canon of Scripture in the Early Church, it was interesting to discuss how much of Christianity developed within the ambit of four Patriarchates in cities that are at the heart of developments in the news from the Eastern Mediterranean today – Antioch (whose Patriarch now lives in Damascus), Alexandria, Jerusalem and Constantinople (Istanbul).
By the time I had finished working late this afternoon, the Mediterranean sun was still shining, and two of us headed out to Dun Laoghaire to walk the East Pier.
Sitting in the sunshine over a double espresso in Insomnia before that walk, it was a delight to ponder how multicultural Ireland is.
As we strolled along the East Pier, the sun was shining on the water, and a few yachts were still out beyond the harbour.
The temperature was still about 22 as we walked along the pier, and in this weather it is possible to imagine that no-one is talking about austerity and economic doom and gloom. For many people, there only worry is where they were too covered-up, and the parts of their arms that yet to catch the sunshine.
As someone said to me, looking across the blue waters and up and the blue skies, it is possible to imagine in this weather that even the silver linings have no clouds.
It would make you feel so sorry for all those spooks, closed up in windowless National Security offices in Washington or holed up in the heat in GCHQ monitoring all our boring postings on Facebook, Twitter, and Google +.
If we really want to secure democracy and the future, then the people in Taksim Square and Giza Square in Istanbul seem to have the right idea.
May they long continue to dance in the sunshine. And hopefully they too will have their Turkish summer.