YONCA TOKBAŞIn Turkey today everyone has their own reaction when they see a lightbulb. Either they react with love or hate, never anything in between. There is never a plain lightbulb.
The simple lightbulb has become politicized, as its image represents a political party. Our perception has changed, and the lightbulb is now identified with politics.
In fact, a lightbulb is only a lightbulb. Though sometimes it can also mean “light,” or “an idea has occurred,” or “brightness.” These are completely apolitical things.
In Turkey we have forgotten that. We are no longer able to see the thing merely as a lightbulb.
The same goes for when we say “left” and “right.” Joke-like expressions, puns, subtle references are made about left-wing and right-wing people. Sometimes we don’t understand it at first, but then we realize that a simple sentence with a straightforward meaning is regarded metaphorically.
Selective perception has reached such a level that every word, every tone, every object and statement is dragged into the field of politics…
Our thoughts, perception, language and conversation have been polluted by politics. We have been poisoned. We have lost our ability to see things as they are.
We are not free. We have been conditioned to perceive in a particular form, in both our minds and in our thoughts.
Leave aside whether or not we have a free press. We are not even able to utter simple day-to-day words innocently.
I recently spoke to a friend about what I was doing when I heard the call to prayer. My friend told me: “Don’t mention the call to prayer. It reminds me of certain things and a certain person.”
In one of my recent pieces, I wrote “God forbid.” One of my readers told me that I was comfortable using this phrase only because I live abroad, but they were so fed up with religious exploitation that they do not even want to say the simple term “maşallah.” I was astonished. Damn you, politics.
In fact, once upon a time faith was independent from all politics. It was a matter between God and the individual, right? This is apparently now history.
We are now not able to do anything, live a life, see or notice anything without it being politicized. Even the most routine things have taken on a kind of stigma.
You are either one thing or the other. You are even worse if you are none of them. You are stigmatized no matter you do.
The definition of democracy has different meanings for you and different meanings for me. For you, our democracy is considered a true democracy when what you want happens. For me it is a democracy only when what I want happens. There is no awareness of having a shared democracy, understanding and identification.
Democracy should not be that. Whether you like it or not, rights are rights. Injustice is injustice. Freedom is valid for everybody equally. It should not be implemented as “freedom for whoever supports me, slavery to others.”
A photo I shared earlier in the week on Instagram prompted me to write this piece. I was trying to decide which photo to share. In one of them, there was a light bulb hanging over my head. I associated this image with the notion “I have an idea.”
But then messages started pouring in. I was appalled. There were angry, judgmental and reproachful messages. Other people warned me to be careful. There were also some jokes, but I wasn’t in the mood for laughing.
We are freer when we are able to look purely at each other, when we are able to look to trivial things that are independent of politics, when we are able to see the facts free of all political interpretation.
Dear friends, let’s try to remember that sometimes a lightbulb is only a lightbulb.