New Year’s resolutions proposal for Turkey’s worried secularists
Half of the Turkish population is unhappy with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) administration. There is a group among them who are quite well-off, yet are also the most angry and frustrated. They are so full of hatred that you would think they must be suffering concretely and tremendously under this government. Yet most live in their comfortable residences, frequent their friends and like-minded neighbors, and therefore are not subjected to a certain lifestyle. They can drink freely for instance, or wear any clothes they like without fearing a conservative reaction. They are not obliged to send their children to imam hatip schools (religious technical schools) since they send their kids either to private schools or abroad.
Still, they are the most furious ones; vocally so of course! Their anger is disproportionate to their willingness to take action. Voting and making a donation here and there is their understanding of being an active citizen. Oh! I forgot. They are also extremely active on Facebook and Twitter. They think they are doing a great favor to this country when they protest and stop buying a newspaper when their favorite columnist - who is their favorite because he or she keeps insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the AKP - is fired precisely because he or she did not stop the insults, which is of course not journalism at all.
Here is my proposal for some New Year’s resolutions which will make them less unhappy in 2015.
1. Stop being news junkies. Half of the news you hear is statements from the president intended to change the agenda and will be forgotten in a week’s time. It is designed to make you even angrier and unhappier. Don’t waste your time by sharing the latest news with your friends; no matter how scandalous it might be this will not make them take action. Do you take an action? Why should they?
2. Stop sharing the most hideous articles about Erdoğan and the AKP with your friends. No it won’t topple the government. This is intellectual masturbation, but even that does not provide temporary relief for you, since you continue to be extremely frustrated. So what’s the point?
3. Stop thinking you are doing a favor to this country by buying the newspapers that hurl the biggest insults toward the government. Don’t forget: an opposition cannot be based on lies and exaggeration.
4. Stop thinking that elections are rigged in Turkey. They are not. A small number of irregularities do not change the outcome.
5. Set aside your conviction that the AKP wins because it is conservative and it distributes coal and food to the needy. Those two certainly play a role, but are not the real reasons why the AKP wins.
6. Stop thinking yours is a lost cause. This is precisely what the AKP wants you to think
Thank God my advice is addressed only to a tiny group of people. The majority of the half of the nation unhappy with the AKP can do better than this group. They are ready to struggle and some are active citizens. Their misery stems from the fact that they do not see a proper opposition party where they can full-heartedly canalize their energy. For them, my advice as a New Year’s resolution is to pick an NGO and work hard for it; after all, not everyone has to be involved with high politics and real opposition lies in being an active member of civil society.