-Published in Hurriyet Daily News on May 12th, 2009-
-Hurriyet Daily News'te, 12 Mayis 2009 Tarihinde Yayinlanmis Makalem-
Turkey is going through a rough patch. The people of Turkey with different ethnicities and backgrounds are fuming with one another. Kindness and acceptance, the words that are most commonly used while defining our country and people, are nowhere to be found.
Different camps do not trust each other, or each other's arguments, or sincerity. What we need urgently is a changed attitude to handle this gridlock. Heroes of these various camps have been crumbling. Writers, like my old-time hero Fehmi Koru, who were the defenders of the poor and weak once, amid the changing equation of Turkey, became the staunch protector of the "rulers," for any cost. The members of an Islamic movement, the Gülenists, who are supposed to be "the soldiers of kindness," became the accountants of the old books. The institution that is supposed to protect the country speaks more on political issues than its own professional matters.
At this state, it might sound a little ironic to say that Turkey needs more Ahmet Hakans, as it seems I am arguing we need more polemics, since the name-owner is also famous for his bickering and quarrelers. No, not polemics we need, we need Turkey's people, especially youngsters to rise against their old/new "masters" to start a peaceful togetherness and confront them when they are wrong. Defying them for the sake of conscience, not to appease any other sides, because they are not on anybody's side. They are just visiting wherever they are with an unknown amount of time until they find a freer atmosphere.
Let me break down what happens to those who want to rise and break the chains of all kinds of missionary stances and ideologies. They need to know that they will most probably be disappointed by what they encounter, hear and don't hear, said behind their backs, when the time comes to confront their superiors and be forced to abandon their comfort zones. This push-out will open a new, thorny and challenging quest, which will be without any directions, references and friends. However, they will discover their own consciences, skills and aptness. Once they start to swim in these uncharted seas, they will surely find this new challenge even more comforting. Knowing that they could have been embraced by their old neighborhood for all their life if they conformed to where they were, still, they are those who courageously change the lines.
Leaving your old neighborhood doesn't mean you betray them. You can and should, still, gratefully admit the good things and memories that have been given to you. Even going further, one should not forget the roots that he/she came from. Those roots are yours now, not theirs, and if anyone threatens you with the divine calculations, tell them to get lost.
The Gülenists, a movement that has been riding on the chords of tolerance and dialogue, whose leader has been teaching forgiveness and brotherhood for decades, and giving hope, as being devout Muslim doesn't prevent one to be a modern, lately, became one of the most aggressive segments of society, since the balance of power in Turkey has been tilted to their side. Therefore, these circumstances tell us that either the teachings were not true, or the followers are getting lost. It is apparent that, in these triumphant days, they, too, need their own Ahmet Hakans who can come in and remind of "things." This reminder can start as, "No, we didn't start this venture to crush others." Or, they need to hear that their newspapers were supposed to be the voice of the weak and poor, not necessarily of the mission and ends.
Mr. Hüseyin Gülerce, for one, apparently seemed to confuse himself with Britain's 16th century king, Henry the VIII, who thought that he, himself, could deal out "the divine responsibilities." Otherwise, how can we explain that, once Mr. Gülerce sees the criticism for the movement, he lashes back to say, "Those who criticize the movement have severe responsibilities and produce tools for other side." What happened to the Prophet Mohammed's hadith (admittedly with a weak chain of transmission): "He, who for no good reason doesn't speak up against blatant wrong is but a silent devil." How is it that someone who tries to follow this trail can be accused of carrying the "great responsibilities?" Last time I checked, "abiler" (elders) did not "seem" to have that license to designate anybody's Muslim identity.
The institution that created this country's history, and preserved it for centuries, it turns out, became a force to steer the country in illegal ways. If there were no one else, the soldiers of this country would have been loved forever, just because of letting the visionary Mustafa Kemal live and blossom within. But why is it that this institution still, in this age and time, attempts to meddle with civilian affairs? We also need youngsters in the army to change the culture to adjust to these new times quickly. Every division of Turkey needs to have its Ahmet Hakans to hear harsh criticism to be reminded of the pure roots with which those camps were started once. At the same time, they have to be hopeful that the encouraging futures are within reach. They have to have a vision of simple-equals who will ascent Turkey once more. That Turkey will not be combined with the identities from the past, but present and future. And that identity is to love this country and respect others, not only the ones with us, possessing open minds and inclusiveness. In this new Turkey, people will have the private sacred and heavenly atmosphere. But the "others," too, will have and teach their beliefs. Meaning, there won't be an oppression of only one segment or a distorted secularism. There will be a real separation.
The current economic slump will end sooner or later. And if the people of Turkey pass the current twilight zone successfully, there will be a whole new chapter that can be thriving, excited and, most importantly, happy again. Turkey is not the Turkey of the past. We can knob this historic recreation moment if we are united. Turkey's youngsters must start reckoning their elders, imams and untouchables to set aside the dogmas and old scores to prepare a dynamic terrain for these new times. And only they and their supporters can read between these lines. If there are many, Turkey is lucky.