Sometimes it is very hard to let go. It's even harder to let go when instead of throwing your arms out in release you throw them out to gather. I'm reaing 'Turkish Reflections: A Biography of a Place' by Mary Lee Settle. Mary reminisces over the details of her travels and short time living in the west coasts of Turkey in flawless stream of consciousness. She shepherds you through details of life by the Agean while alluding to the many political, social and historical minutia of essentially everything she saw.
While describing her term in Istanbul she relates how the "Aya Sofya [Holy Wisdom or Hagia Sofia] is a museum now, a new monument to the secular leader Ataturk, whose personal hatred of the clergy has left a void in Turkey that threatens to be filled dangerously." Truth fills every word of her observation.
Even the least experienced of mass communication professionals will tell you that perception is reality. No matter the facts or circumstances someone is right and another is wrong and it is very hard to throw a lever to change a bias (didn't both sides of the American Cival War claim to be on the side of God?). Mary's sympathetic perspective on the Turkish psyche makes me understand why the nation on the whole is so fearful of foreigners. In the early 1970s the Turks were suffering mass casualties on the island of Cyprus at the whims of Greek Cypriot war-lords. Turkey called on many allies to aid in securing safety for the disputed island. Britain refused. The US couldn't afford another battle over the ethics of international intercession after getting into Viet Nam. The perceptions of Turkey's actions took two routes: After threats [warnings] from the Greek mercinaries [army] the forces of Turkey marched to the shore and commandeered [stole] boats for the voyage to Cyprus and liberated the Turkish Cypriots [exterminated the Greek Cypriots] as an act of national defense [as an act of war]. The international reaction put Turkey in a negative bracket. The Turks believed they had no other choice, they were right.
So Mary is correct when she says that a void will fill dangerously. Though Aatturk carved a hole through walls of hyper-islamic nationalism, taking the truth to Turkey will not happen without much opposition. It has not hapenned without much opposition. Foreign ideas are considered poisonous. However, despite the tares, I believe that Turkey is ready. Spiritual darkness is now the hardest tyrant to overthrow and the most difficult perception to breach. There's no lever for it.
The Turks have a name that they whisper for a hero that returns from war. They used it for the Turkish prime minister that sent the army to free Cyprus. It is a name reserved for one who selflessly leads and rescues. It is the highest compliment. It is the Turkish word for lion. It is aslan.Posted by timf at June 13, 2005 02:24 PM