My Trip to Turkey

“I did not sign up for this,” I think as I gape at the footage the new channel is rolling. A man walking down a sidewalk, when a car parked nearby him suddenly explodes and sends him sprawled to the ground. Several people at the park enjoying a nice day out, when a massive cloud of debris mushrooms up in the distance. A crowd of protestors on a bridge broken up rather quickly, when a tank recklessly charges into it. Anti-aircraft tracers light up the night sky over the city, shooting at distant jets.

It happens to be just my luck that for the first time I ever visit Turkey, a national coup and a miniature war break out. I was too frightened at that moment to have made this connection, but now that I’m back safe and sound in America, I realize that my country, the greatest country in the world, the United States, also went through some oddly similar times of turbulent change as well: people fighting over what they think is right, people making the decisions themselves to decide who will be their leader. After that I began to think: America prides herself and labels herself the greatest country in the world, because of its ideologies of freedom and democracy.

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Yet what about all the other countries that have shown their firm beliefs in freedom and choice? Is America that much better than those countries to label herself the greatest? I was exposed to this thought rather unintentionally; actually, I was in Turkey because I was part of an ambitious Christian organization that had a niche focus on the Middle East. From a Christian focus, I did learn several things about God and my beliefs, but from a holistic, modern approach, I felt that I had managed to catch a glimpse into the inner workings of the world. Born and raised in the United States, everything I had learned had an American tweak to it.

The only impression of Middle Eastern countries that I had had come Americanized reports of terrorists, Islam, and the Arab Spring, but turkey…