The Third Tower Travels – Two: The Third Tower

This summer I took my family to Italy, to a seaside resort on the outskirts of Ravenna. It was within an easy driving distance from San Marino where the Torre di Montale, the Third Tower is.

Hungarian writer Antal Szerb wrote a book called The Third Tower, about his Italian travels in 1936. It was this Third Tower, the peak of Szerb’s journey.

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Causes

in honor of the NOT IN MY NAME – AZ ÉN NEVEMBEN NE demonstration, today in Budapest

I read this in the depths of social media: an honorable person always steps up against suffering and injustice whenever they hear about them. But – and that’s a sad cliché today – there’s always more news about misery than one could speak up against, not to mention go there and help. So if you have a mind to be there for everyone, you’re in for a big letdown – because it won’t be possible.

There will always be causes to fight for that you will choose not to get involved in. And sometimes you will do that against your better judgment.

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Statement of the Embassy of Germany in Budapest [Update]

Update Sept 3, 2015: Pashto translation at the end of post [Scroll down for translations]

The German embassy in Budapest issued a statement, stressing that the registration of refugees must happen in the country where they entered the European Union. Contrary to previous announcements, Germany will not let refugees enter until they are registered in Hungary.

The statement is available in Hungarian and English at http://www.budapest.diplo.de/

This post collects Arabic, Farsi, Turkish, Urdu, and Pashto translations of the statement. The translations were originally posted on Facebook by Zsuzsanna Zsohár, Petra Ambrus,, Veronika Pándi, and Abdul Ahad Nasiri.

This is not official communication, but it’s meant to help those who seek information.

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The Third Tower Travels – One: Szombathely

Traveling is an experience of freedom. My favorite one, for that matter. It’s a cliché, really: when I get away from the scenes of everyday life, that opens me up, rejuvenates me. I don’t even have to be alone: in fact, sharing this with family or friends even adds to the excitement.

Cliché or not, I can’t help bearing witness to its truth. And I can’t help sharing this deepest of my experiences: I’m starting a series of travel pieces on this blog called the Third Tower Travels. The travel pieces will be short and made up of photos, highlights and anecdotes rather than facts and figures or accurate and complete travel information. At the same time, I hope they will make some of the readers want to visit the places I’m writing about.

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An historic note on refugees

Every day, new tidings arrive from Russia about the slaughter of Jews. Russian Jews flee towards Galicia, and they might be upon the Hungarian border in a day or two. Counties like Nyitra, Szatmár, and Szabolcs are sending memorandum after memorandum to the Parliament, demanding a stop to this immigration […].

(Gyula Krúdy: A tiszaeszlári Solymosi Eszter, IV., 1931, my translation)

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Language is flawed

If you’re not perplexed that I, a Catholic, would support marriage equality (translated by many as ’gay marriage’), you can stop reading this post. OK, just kidding, read on please, I’d hate to lose readers.

It’s not exactly marriage equality that I support: I am against banning or regulating lifestyles as long as they don’t harm the life, safety, and liberty of other human beings. As long as the respect for individual human life is held up, the government has no business in interfering. And marriage equality is one of the things where this is true. As the resolution of the US Supreme Court says (Syllabus, (b) 2): Continue reading

Values

The value I’ll always hold on to and won’t negotiate is this: the respect for individual human life. Do you agree? Do you also think the life, safety, and freedom of another person is just as valuable as your own?

If you do, we’re on the same page. Nothing else matters. Our skin tones, languages, cultures – our collective identities –, our social statuses might be different, yet we’ll be able to respect one another. Continue reading

I was a stranger and you did not receive me

Some governments in Europe are raving against foreigners, economic immigrants as they like to call them. They try not to be so inhumane as to exclude refugees, but in effect they are: they do mean to exclude anyone who’s trying to cross their border. This becomes apparent the moment you walk up to the border and meet the immigration authorities.

Some days ago, in an absurd and rather unpolished move, the Hungarian government posted a number of billboards telling immigrants to stay away. An example: “If you come to Hungary, you must not take away our jobs!” (Hungarian language uses exclamation marks more often than English.) Or:  “If you come to Hungary, you must respect our culture!” Which made me exclaim, culture my backside. What culture is it that tells strangers off without hesitation, without respect to individual human life? Continue reading