Help me…to leave you
Or if you are my lover…
Help me…so I can be healed of you…
If I knew….
that the ocean is very deep…I would not have swam…
If I knew…how I would end
I would not have began
how to cut the roots of your love from the depths
how tears may die in the eyes
and love may commit suicide
If you are prophet,
Cleanse me from this spell
Deliver me from this atheism…
Your love is like atheism…so purify me from this atheism
If you are strong…
Rescue me from this ocean
For I don’t know how to swim
The blue waves…in your eyes
drag me…to the depths
nothing but the color blue
and I have no experience
in love…and no boat…
If I am dear to you
then take my hand
For I am filled with desire…from my
head to my feet
I am breathing under water!
I am drowning…
– Nizar Qabbani (1923-1998), رسالة من تحت الماء – Letter from Under the Sea
Lately I have been too busy to write a serious and coherent piece on Greek elections and the financial crisis (even though I will try to put my thoughts into words by the end of the week). For the time being, I’ll stick to lighter topics, that’s to say, to the latest developments in the Legend of Korra which has turned from one of my weekend’s must-see (alongside the now finished Indian Hospital, Game of Thrones and the loathsome Girls and now True Blood) to an intriguing series with depth and interesting characters.
This week’s episode was truly a revelation and the perfect set-up for the forthcoming season’s finale. When Korra first started, I was impressed by the character and set design, the details in the fight scenes and the care of the producers for the creation of a world that would both intrigue and absorb the viewer. What I had felt back then was a lack of connection with the characters which I had – correctly I believe – attributed to the fact that the series was still in early stages. As this is a project of a limited number of episodes, it was obvious that the creators had carefully planned the development of the characters in order for the revelation of their past to coincide with major plot events.
The development of the character of Lin Beifong has strengthened this belief. When she first appeared, chief Beifong seemed like a strict and calculating individual with little empathy. Yet, her relationship with Tenzin only reveals the impulse level to which her emotions can lead her. In fact, this love, which once made her imprison Tenzin’s then-girlfriend and current wife, led her in this episode to lose what was most important to her, her bending. Her bending, in fact, was more than an ability to her: it was her work, it was her strength, it was her way of life and it was her connection to her mother who had developed metal bending. She is a true heroine, strong, emotional and ready to give her life for everything she loves, without neither being a mother figure nor losing her femininity.
However, it can be argued that this amazing character development comes in direct opposition to the development of the three main characters, Korra, Mako and Bolin – as the fourth member of the group, Asami Sato has already demonstrated important aspects of her personality. Even Amon, without anything about his past having revealed yet, has turned from an uninteresting opponent to mighty antagonist. It is true that besides the mostly awkward triangle and in times quadrangle between the characters, little is known about the two brothers, Mako and Bolin. Nevertheless, they show great potentials for various reasons: they are orphans (which is always good ground for sobfests), the do not look alike (which may or may not imply something) and they have still many challenges to face.
Korra, on the other hand, does not have the emotional baggage that, say, Aang had. She comes from a happy family with her two parents still living and breathing, she has pretty much mastered three and a half elements (she needs to work on her air-bending but, oh well, nobody’s perfect) and she is genuinely cool. In fact, she at times resembles an oh-too-perfect girl to the point of being annoying. She didn’t have the ethical dilemmas of Aang in relation to fire bending or his guilt about abandoning the air temples. She has been given a clean start. This is why for all I know, something will probably happen that weaken her to a breaking point. Just like the death of Mufasa was Simba’s lowest point, Korra’s lowest point may be related to a death or the loss of something dear (parents? friends? I dare betting that it will be something more than a few Republic City buildings).
Talking about a torturing life, it is my firm belief that Asami will remain one of the most interesting characters even during the next season. She may not be a bender, but she is called to fill in the gap left by Mai’s character from the Legend of Aang. She is the one that is asked to choose sides not based on fear of demise, but out of desire to fight beside the one she loves and stand up for what is right. What distinguishes Mai and Asami’s characters is the element of jealousy that will probably play a major – yet possibly temporarily – role in Asami’s loyalties. However, the two women look alike in another way as well: they both come from affluent families and have black hair, porcelain skin, smooth features and an internal strength. This is why I could tentatively see a connection between Asami’s character and General Iroh.
Let’s go now to General Iroh. General Iroh was definitely the highlight of the previous episode and made many old fans (including myself) rave at the sound of Dante Basco’s voice. Iroh does not resemble Zuko only in voice but in fact he looks in many ways like him and it is almost certain that they are related. This was definitely a treat to the fans, a kind of loyalty present. It also highlights the effort to maintain a continuity between the current and previous Airbender series, as many old characters make cameos as adults or are brought back through relatives and stories. This continuity also applies to the last episode’s realisation that if Tenzin’s family dies, airbending will be lost forever, which was a key issue in the previous series. Now Korra is preparing for a large scale battle which will probably allow her to release the Avatar state and – maybe… – connect with Aang. Therefore the end of this season seems not just promising, but genuinely moving and exciting enough to make people come back for the second season, which, hopefully, will include even more good story-lines. At the end of the day, what is animation if not the visualisation of compelling storytelling?
PS. For the first and only time I will confess that I now believe that not disclosing Ursa’s (Zuko’s mother’s) whereabouts at the end of the previous series was an excellent choice. It is one of these highly distressing events that keep fans loyal to the last episode in order to find an answer. Just please dear producers, give it to us.
Sincerely yours, A.
- Legend of Korra s1e10: Turning the Tides (thespoilist.wordpress.com)
- Korra Fans Wait In High Anticipation for the Legend of Korra Episode 10 “Turning the Tides” To Premiere June 16th (prweb.com)
- Turning the Tides: Legend of Korra 1-10 (thoughtspresso.wordpress.com)
- I Told You Not to Underestimate Her! The Legend of Korra: “Out of the Past” (tor.com)
- Adventures in Republic City: The Legend of Korra Premieres! (tor.com)
Turkey is experiencing a politicisation of abortion, a phenomenon widely observed in the US. The Islamist government intends to bring into voting a law that will only not allow abortion after the fourth week of gestation. This, is practically a ban, as Dr Mustafa Ziya Günenc stresses, as no termination of pregnancy can be performed at that stage.
The political motive of the bill becomes clear from the Prime Minister’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan statements that “There is no difference between killing a baby in its mother’s stomach and killing a baby after birth” and that abortion and elective caesareans were “secret plots” to slow Turkey’s growth.
There is a widely held feminist argument that maintains that such bills pass because the people drafting them are men. It is, in fact, narrow-minded and manipulative to relate such an important, serious and personal decision to politics. It is true that abortions are deeply embedded to local culture and the people’s standing on matters of life, death and spirituality. Furthermore, laws that fail to capture the society they aim at regulating are vacuum and often dangerous. However, the motive behind the legalisation on abortions has never been solely the promotion of liberal agenda. As proven by statistics, banning abortions is a public health hazard, as determined women will be willing to put themselves at risk to undergo the procedure.
Abortion is not a novel procedure. In Ancient Greece it was a wide-held practice, which even caused a philosophical debate on whether people acquire their humanity after birth. In Rome the practice was outlawed, but widely performed. Christians in general opposed it, while 19th century feminists were divided on the matter. Regardless of the moral, ethical and philosophical issues embedded to the practice, it was and still is widely performed due to special circumstances that force women to choice it instead of carrying the foetus full term.
Seeing abortion only as a choice, rather than a necessity is limiting. There are many reasons why a woman may choose to terminate a pregnancy. Medical reasons are usually projected as a notable reason with its own complications. In the case of a non-life threatening, but serious disability, for example, a couple may feel unable to cope with the responsibilities associated. It is not just a eugenics mentality, as one could argue, but pure, old-fashioned human incapacity to cope with an overwhelming reality that may result to more harm than good.
However, special consideration should also e given to the social and personal circumstances of that force the living, breathing and fully developed women to take such hard decisions. An underage girl may be too fragile to continue with a pregnancy caused by an unfortunate moment with an equally immature boyfriend. An older woman may just feel incapable of taking care of a baby and her social positioning will most likely prevent her from giving it up for adoption. A student may choose to go on with her education instead of going through with the pregnancy in hopes of being able after a few years to offer her future children with material goods and the type of affection only a fulfilled person can give. And I won’t even discuss cases of rape or incest.
Many people debate at length on the actual pregnancy and the presence or absence of humanity of the foetus instead on concentrating on the life prospects of this creature once born. In fact, in the majority of countries limited assistance is offered to these women who choose to keep the children and even when they are offered that option, balancing out all their responsibilities is almost impossible, especially when they feel that they have been forced to have the child. This reality may create an unhealthy environment for the child and expose it to great dangers, cause emotion scaring and start a circle of violence, negligence or poverty that could be reproduced for many generations to come.
In a post-modern world, quality of life should prevail over quantity and family planning should be at the heart of health education. Allowing abortions to remain legal is not the solution, but only part of a greater scheme. This practice should always be accompanied with access to contraceptives and information materials targeting especially tweens and teens. Such information can be adapted to different cultures without loosing its central message and should expand to issues of STP, sexual violence and gender relations. After all, offering people choices is the best way to make these choices accepted by the wider population, thus preventing the stigmatization both of the person deciding to abort the foetus and of the person deciding to continue with the pregnancy. Each option is presented as a choice, rather than as something forced and shameful.
On the other hand, outlawing abortions is a step back, both metaphorically and practically: it positions the health of women, the vessels of society, in the hands of professionals that in the best case scenario they have knowledge but lack equipment and in the worst case scenario they are charlatans that will cause the patient serious disability or even death. Moreover, as the statistics have shown, the legalisation of abortions has indeed saved many lives: the lives of women that would have ended up dead if the procedure had not be performed following the medical community’s standards. And the lives of those who committed suicide out of despair.
An open-minded society has the potentials to be self-aware and morally sound. Sexual acts will continue to take place regardless of the legislation and it is a reality that should be accepted by all parties involved in this debate. In such a context, pro-choice means pro-life in more than one way. It is pro-life as it protects women’s life, it is pro-quality of life as it assists in the safeguarding of the children’s quality of life and is it pro-life without stigmatization, as it exonerates pregnancy. This may not be easily understood by men, but as a woman, I firmly believe that if I was in such a position, I would find it empowering to face society and say having or not having a child is a choice that is fully mine and I stand behind it, rather than hold my head low, be silent and internalize frustration, disgust and disillusionment that I will eventually channel to the people close to me. And this is a harsh reality that often eludes politicians too ambitious and driven by their personal goals.
- Many “Pro-Life” Americans Don’t Want To Outlaw Abortion (motherjones.com)
- What the polling on abortion actually tells us | Harry J Enten (guardian.co.uk)
- Erdogan’s Call to Ban Abortion in Turkey Will Only Increase Deaths (ibtimes.com)