If you’ve been following the news recently, you may have seen coverage of the protests in Istanbul, Turkey that began approximately month ago in May. A small group of people turned out to protest government plans to bulldoze Gezi Park, the bustling city’s last green space, and replace it with a shopping mall.
What began as a peaceful protest soon escalated into conflict and police madness. Water cannons and tear gas were used to disperse the Turkish people. Military tanks took to the streets, killing 4 people in their wake.
While civil unrest happens frequently in the world we live in, I find it fascinating that the Turks continue to remain peaceful amid the turmoil that is ravaging their community. While the police invaded Gezi Park, the citizens who stood against them did yoga. YOGA! This is a juxtaposition that reaches Gandhi-like proportions. When law enforcement more recently attempted to scatter the protestors, the people showered them with red carnations. But there was one man who expressed his act of defiance by silently standing still in one place for five hours.
Soon hundreds of men and women joined “Standing Man” in Taksim Square, calmly exhibiting their silent resistance while unintentionally creating the most tame and passive flash mob ever. When the police moved in to arrest them, they said they were “standing only for peace, not taking sides.” One arrested man stated, “I’m standing against all violence. I’m standing there so that the events that we’ve been witnessing and the events taking place over the last two to three weeks can come to a standstill.”
Even after the many police raids employed to remove protestors, citizens return to the park and square, undaunted. They quietly hold hands and simply make their presence known. Supporters of the cause come to their gathering places and give them water and sunscreen.
These demonstrations did not crop up solely based on bulldozing a park but the government’s increasing authoritative tendencies that ignore the voice of its citizens. Still the tranquil “protest by yoga” is the perfect application of what yoga really is – being harmony in the midst of chaos. They are choosing to be themselves, remaining open and open hearted all the while maintaining their vibrational spaciousness throughout the violence and discord.
If or when the riots begin again- when sirens blare and the oppressive forces clamorously muscle their way through the city streets, may the peaceful sound of silence be deafening.