Beyond Borders: The Socratic Resilience of the Kurdish People

The tales of human resilience woven into the tapestry of history offer profound lessons. The narrative of the Kurdish people is one such story, etching a potent image of resilience and strength against the backdrop of relentless oppression. In this article I explore this narrative through the lens of Socratic philosophy and modern psychological concepts, […]

Beyond Borders: The Socratic Resilience of the Kurdish People
Beyond Borders: The Socratic Resilience of the Kurdish People
  • Yayınlanma5 June 2023 06:57
  • Güncelleme5 June 2023 07:37

The tales of human resilience woven into the tapestry of history offer profound lessons. The narrative of the Kurdish people is one such story, etching a potent image of resilience and strength against the backdrop of relentless oppression. In this article I explore this narrative through the lens of Socratic philosophy and modern psychological concepts, thereby presenting an interdisciplinary exploration of resilience. The Kurdish experience serves as a powerful testament to the transformative power of resilience, providing valuable insights for societies striving to overcome adversity and forge paths toward equality.

Socrates, an influential philosopher from ancient Greece, lived during a period marked by oppressive rule. Yet, he stood as an embodiment of resilience, empowering his followers through his teachings. His mantra, “I know that I know nothing” (Plato, 380 BC), is a humble reminder of the unending pursuit of knowledge and virtue, traits that form the backbone of true strength. His optimistic belief in inherent human goodness and the transformative power of self-knowledge, exemplified through his Socratic method, aligns closely with contemporary psychological concepts like learned optimism, which underscores the ability to foster a positive outlook to boost resilience.

The Socratic philosophy finds resonance in the resistance demonstrated by the Kurdish people. Despite living across multiple national borders – Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria – and facing cultural and political oppression, the Kurds have showcased a remarkable spirit of resilience. They mirror Socratic teachings by rising above adversity and standing up for their rights, thereby illustrating an undying strength. Their relentless pursuit of knowledge, truth, and justice, despite the external circumstances, mirrors the ethos of the Socratic method and learned optimism.

Modern psychology also offers a fascinating lens to view this resilience. ‘Learned optimism’, a concept brought forth by Martin Seligman (1991), emphasizes the power of resilience in overcoming adversities. This idea is mirrored in the Kurdish resistance against oppressive forces, such as the battle against ISIS in Kobani, where the Kurdish people showcased immense courage and resilience, challenging the stereotypical image of oppressed groups as helpless victims. The Kurds’ ability to alter their mindset amidst adversity, harness optimism, and bounce back stronger reflects the core principle of learned optimism.

Morever, the Kurdish story prompts us to broaden our understanding of strength. It’s not just about physical might or domination, but about the ability to endure, the capacity to empathize, and the power to bring transformative change. In the Kurdish narrative, strength lies in resilience, unity, and a relentless pursuit of equality – a pursuit that continually challenges and transforms oppressive systems. Their endurance in the face of extreme adversities, unity against oppressors, and pursuit of equality echo the principles of resilience as envisaged by modern psychology and Socratic philosophy.

This perspective resonates with the Socratic Method’s principle of relentless questioning and pursuit of truth, while also aligning with psychological concepts like ‘post-traumatic growth’, which suggests substantial personal growth following adversity (Tedeschi & Calhoun, 2004). A notable example from Kurdish history is the Anfal genocide carried out by Saddam Hussein’s regime in the late 1980s, where despite enduring immense suffering and loss, the Kurdish people have shown remarkable resilience and determination, leading to a resurgence of their cultural identity and a stronger sense of unity. Another example from Kurdish history is the Battle of Sinjar in 2014, where the Kurdish Peshmerga forces, along with the Yazidi community, faced the brutal onslaught of ISIS. Despite the overwhelming odds, the Kurds demonstrated extraordinary resilience and unity, ultimately regaining control of Sinjar and paving the way for the liberation of thousands of Yazidi women and children who had been enslaved by ISIS. This remarkable feat showcases the transformative power of adversity and exemplifies the spirit of post-traumatic growth within the Kurdish community. The Kurds exemplify the spirit of post-traumatic growth, transforming their traumatic experiences into opportunities for individual and collective growth.

A study published in the “Journal of Happiness Studies” found that societies that embrace inclusivity and equality contribute to greater individual well-being (Helliwell, Layard, & Sachs, 2017). This research supports the narrative of the Kurds and their fight for recognition and equality. It shows that keeping the oppressed and fostering ethical strength aren’t conflicting but complementary paths to societal well-being, and offers empirical evidence to the Kurds’ belief in equality and inclusivity as drivers of societal resilience and happiness.

In the end, the Kurdish people’s story, steeped in Socratic wisdom and psychological insights, teaches us a valuable lesson. This journey of the Kurds invites everyone to reimagine social dynamics, to show that the oppressed are not victims but resilient champions of change, and to strive for a world where power is used to uplift and empower rather than oppress.

Bibliography:

  1. 1 Plato. (380 BC). The Apology.
  2. 2 Seligman, M. E. P. (1991). Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life. New York: Knopf.
  3. 3 Tedeschi, R. G., & Calhoun, L. G. (2004). Posttraumatic Growth: Conceptual Foundations and Empirical Evidence. Psychological Inquiry, 15(1), 1-18.
  4. 3 Helliwell, J. F., Layard, R., & Sachs, J. (2017). World Happiness Report 2017. New York: Sustainable Development Solutions Network.