March 11, 2000
Fear. We've all felt fear in our lives -- fear of losing our loved ones, fear of not being liked, fear of not doing well in school, or even a fear of something deeper and more sinister. Fear crosses all borders, cultures, races and age groups. Fear is something that we've seen -- and experienced -- while trekking around the world for the Odyssey.
It got me thinking. There would be so many fewer guns, I'd imagine, since people wouldn't fear being attacked. There would be more hope for the future, and more people working to make a better world, because they wouldn't be afraid to take risks! There would be communication between 'rival' ethnic and religious groups, because people wouldn't be afraid of each other. When I think of a world without fear, I imagine the entire planet rising up to its greatest potential for caring and achievement.
Is that what Adi Yekutieli thought, when he helped start the Mosaic Project, bringing Palestinian Arab and Israeli children together to create a giant art project along the border between Israel and the Palestinian West Bank. As you may remember, the planned Peace Park includes space for artwork by children from all over the world, on the theme "A World Without Fear," and we asked you to send in your artwork, too. (it's not too late!)
Instead of living their lives in fear, both of these men have dedicated their time and energy to envisioning what a better world would be, and then making it happen with the help of students like you. When Konstantine learned of Adi's project through us, he immediately took action. The children of COREM are experts on fear, you see. Many of them lost family and friends as the high-rise apartment buildings came tumbling down around them during the earthquake.
I didn't understand the whole concept until I went to Yalova myself, and saw the destruction left by the earthquake. Of the 40 or 50 huge apartment buildings that lined the main street, several were reduced to rubble, and only 17 are safe enough to ever be lived in again. The rest will be torn down after the buildings that have already fallen are cleaned up.
Since the earthquake, most of the fallen buildings have been bulldozed away. Little was salvageable. Concrete and rebar, sofas and kitchens, and the bodies of those crushed by the buildings (an estimated 9000 people) were all bulldozed into the sea. Konstantine took me to see the spot, where the pile of rubble creates a whole new piece of land, jutting out into the Sea of Marmara. I stepped carefully into the mess along an old piece of pipe, over some concrete and a crumpled handrail, seeing bits and pieces of junk that used to be people's lives. I was gripped, suddenly, with the horror of what I was standing on. I remembered the pictures I saw on the news of crushed bodies and limbs sticking out of the rubble.
This new piece of "land," jutting out into the Sea of Marmara, is to become a memorial park, to all of those who lost their lives in this quake. Artwork will come here, too, from both the children of Yalova and the children of the Mosaic Project in Israel and Palestine, now their "sister city." The theme, "A World Without Fear" is just as appropriate here as it was there, but for very different reasons. Brian, Konstantine, Berrin and I spent the day touring around to the schools of Yalova, sharing the Odyssey AND the Mosaic Project with the students. In a few weeks, Adi will be flying out here to visit COREM and figure out ways that they can collaborate between their two projects. The English teacher at Yalova Lisesi (High School) told me, "Since the earthquake, we have lots of new friends now from other countries who have come to help-Belgians, Japanese, Americans-for that, the earthquake was good."
What fears do you have? Do they hold you back from doing the things you want to do, or from doing what is right? We can all learn from the children of the Mosaic Project and the children of Yalova about what it means to strive for a world without fear. What future do you want to see?
p.s. - Please e-maill me at ...firstname.lastname@example.org
Abeja - Rockin' the Yalova Stadium, Anatolian Style
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