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Appearance Deceives

I bear Turkish blood, appear Indian and was born and raised in the Netherlands and Germany. In a religious aspect I should therefore be Muslim, Christian or Hindu. References are made on a weekly basis, whether on the bus, at restaurants or on campus. With respect to all religions: I don’t have one, hence I deserve an equal amount of respect. Right now, you believe that I’m either Atheist or Agnostic. In reality, neither of those is applicable. Society likes to attach labels to my non-existent religion in an attempt to understand and recognize an unheard of phenomenon. My friends are situated around the globe and my Facebook newsfeed is filled with posts from various time zones, so I’d consider myself open-minded.

I’ve seen a/my fair share of beautiful, historic sanctuaries decorated with the most luxurious of hues and designs. While from an artistic view I can appreciate the work, I feel uncomfortable in holy places; irony at it’s finest. The significant churches, mosques and synagogues I’ve encountered take me back to the medieval ages, back when Church and State weren’t separated yet. The problem with that is that technically churches have been governmental buildings draped in the poor wealth of the majority of citizens. In those days, a large divide in economic inequality existed.

Don’t be mistaken as history is bound to repeat itself. About three years ago, a Turkish Department of Education backed live TV show asked viewers to donate money towards building new schools or renovating older ones in rural villages. Standing schools were so dirty the kids became ill from impracticable toilets and freezing cold classrooms. Out of benevolence, close relatives of mine have decided to build a new school without having physically seen the area. The elementary school was built for 100 children including an area for disabled kids. When I visited the village in Çorum, Turkey, I was outraged: Just a couple of blocks from the school, the second mosque had newly been built. The newly built school is the only one in the village. It’s the second in a village stretching 17 miles and populated by 233 as of 2012. Nearly half of the residents had a second home in Switzerland. This school is the only one present.

The mistake in my view, in both historic and contemporary sanctuaries, is a wrong order of priorities. The vast amounts of money could have been well spent on educational institutions, infrastructure, health, housing and transportation. For a community it is important to recognize the needs of society and environment combined. When a community fails to do so, I find them to act greedy.

That reason attributes largely to my non-religion, but there are other variables that add to it. I’m not partaking in the endless debates since my opinion will be overthrown no matter what and every generation has experienced wars due to religious disputes. What I believe in is free and equal choices: accept and respect.

Didier Drogba: Patriotic Peacemaker

On Imported Blog

I first got into soccer (football for the non-Americans) when I started playing Fifa 10 on the Wii. In that game, I would always play with Chelsea F.C. Being so much higher rated than the others teams, I could actually beat teams with them. And, my favorite player on the team was Didier Drogba, a man amongst men on the Wii screen. Since then, Drogba has moved to the Turkish club Galatasaray while I have become an artificial Liverpool F.C. fan.

Little did I know that in 2007, Didier Drogba was responsible for stopping a 5-year Civil War in his home country of Ivory Coast (or Côte d'Ivoire if you're fancy / politically correct). I've heard numerous stories about athletes being humanitarians and helping causes, but I had never heard of such an accomplishment. And for that, all I have to say is Kudos. Kudos to you, Drogba, for using your talent for such a noble cause. Al Jazeera's segment on him is one of five they had on soccer heroes. While I have not familiarized myself with the other four stories, I plan on doing so soon. This blog post, however, is mainly a praise to all of the celebrity figures out there trying their best to help others. Politics is often influenced by money, and it results in tension among different groups of people. In the Ivory Coast's instance, there was a 3-sided Civil War. With the help of the whole Ivory Coast National Soccer Team, Drogba sent out a plea to the politicians to set aside their differences and unite as a country. Eventually they were able to settle and end the five year war that had plagued the war.

(Note: A Second Ivorian Civil War emerged in 2010 but, with the help of the United Nations, was brought to an end in 2011.)

This is the thing I love about sports: it's able to unite groups of people and make them set aside their differences. Whether it's a national soccer team in the World Cup or a high school football team in the school playoffs (I just read Friday Night Lights), the bonding that is created between fans of the same is unparalleled. Fueled with the momentum of victories and achievements of the team, the result is awe-inspiring. Drogba and the Ivorian National Team used their qualification to the 2006 World Cup as the event that inspired the ceasefire.

The respect that word-class athletes gain from others is among the top in the world. Dennis Rodman's tour of North Korea and apparent friendship with Kim Jong-Un has been extremely controversial, but it shows the extent to which superstars are worshipped. It shows that they are able to use their influence to make the world a significantly better place. If North Korea is offering diplomatic peace through Dennis Rodman, why should we not at least follow up on it?

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