“One should never ever remain silent for fear of complexity.” ~ Elif Shafak
As a Middle Eastern woman coming from Lebanon, I’ve always been able to relate to Elif Shafak’s novels.
From The Forty Rules of Love to The Bastard of Istanbul, this author never ceases to amaze me. However, this article is not about her great books, it is about “The Revolutionary Power of Diverse Thought,” which is one of the greatest TED Talks I’ve ever listened to.
Shafak sheds light on motherlands, emotional intelligence in politics, diversity, and LGBTQ+ rights.
Many people, including me, can relate to what she says. We all might feel bittersweet about our native countries. I love Lebanon more than anything in the world, but politics and politicians have made it hard for me to stay hopeful about the future of my country where secularism is becoming more evident with each passing day.
As I see the world drifting toward cheering and voting for the demagogues, I lose the little hope that was left. How can I remain hopeful when less and less empaths are being chosen as leaders? How can I remain hopeful when instead of being united more than ever, people are dividing our beautiful world into camps? Instead of being more compassionate, enjoying diversity, and even appreciating it, a lot of people act as if diversity is what’s wrong with the world and therefore want to eliminate it.
Nature is the greatest model for us and if there is anything that makes it so perfect and beautiful, it is the diversity that it offers.
Today, more than ever, the world needs to listen to this podcast and share it.
Here are my favorite parts, but I truly wish everyone would listen to the whole thing:
“I want to talk about emotions and the need to boost our emotional intelligence. I think it’s a pity that mainstream political theory pays very little attention to emotions. Oftentimes, analysts and experts are so busy with data and metrics that they seem to forget those things in life that are difficult to measure and perhaps impossible to cluster under statistical models.”
“I think East and West, we are losing multiplicity, both within our societies and within ourselves. And coming from Turkey, I do know that the loss of diversity is a major, major loss. Today, my motherland became the world’s biggest jailer for journalists, surpassing even China’s sad record. And I also believe that what happened over there in Turkey can happen anywhere. It can even happen here. So just like solid countries was an illusion, singular identities is also an illusion, because we all have a multiplicity of voices inside. The Iranian, the Persian poet, Hafiz, used to say, ‘You carry in your soul every ingredient necessary to turn your existence into joy. All you have to do is to mix those ingredients.'”
“So what can we do? I think we need to go back to the basics, back to the colors of the alphabet. The Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran used to say, ‘I learned silence from the talkative and tolerance from the intolerant and kindness from the unkind.’ I think it’s a great motto for our times. So from populist demagogues, we will learn the indispensability of democracy. And from isolationists, we will learn the need for global solidarity. And from tribalists, we will learn the beauty of cosmopolitanism and the beauty of diversity.”
“As I finish, I want to leave you with one word, or one taste. The word yurt in Turkish means ‘motherland.’ It means ‘homeland.’ But interestingly, the word also means ‘a tent used by nomadic tribes.’ And I like that combination, because it makes me think homelands do not need to be rooted in one place. They can be portable. We can take them with us everywhere. And I think for writers, for storytellers, at the end of the day, there is one main homeland, and it’s called ‘storyland.’ And the taste of that word is the taste of freedom.”