In times of crisis, just smile and wave!

In times of crisis, just smile and wave!

There is an expression in English, “soul searching.” It means a penetrating examination of your own conscience, motives and attitudes on a certain matter. An explosion in an army depot that caused 25 young people to die should have caused deep soul searching in the nation. We should have accounted for why such disasters rarely seen in advanced countries have become routine for our country.

That evening, I first watched the BBC and then switched to our news channels.

In Turkey, we see more bad news each and every day than what European channels come up with after scanning the entire world. If there is no bad news, then there are speeches from politicians who are full of hatred and rage. Or there are crises erupting unnecessarily and inexplicably. It is torture for Turks.

Why did a boat carrying illegal immigrants sink off our shores, leaving more than 60 bodies behind?

Why did Syria down our jet, and why could we never learn where and why it was downed?

Why do the shutters of a dam, both the owner and the builder of which are among Turkey’s most famous companies, suddenly burst and flood the area causing the death of several employees?

Why do mines that do not collapse in any other country collapse here, burying workers under tens of thousands of tons of earth?

Why are we among the world’s record holders for accidents in civilian aviation?

Why are there so many bridges collapsing? Why so many floods, landslides?

Why does the General Staff wait for 30 years to build a proper station for its soldiers in the southeast?
Did you watch ‘Madagascar?’
This and other similar incidents have two historically common denominators: Namely, that the causes have not been analyzed and publicized and that those responsible have not been penalized.

When the prime minister wants to raise a religious generation, I guess he is right. That would be the shortest way to teach the young that all matters depend on God. They should learn from an early age that we come from the tradition of trusting in God without tying your camel up first.

Twenty-five young people have died. The prime minister or the chief of General Staff should have immediately formed a commission headed by a person trusted by the public. This commission should have looked for the causes of the explosion and recommended measures so that such disasters are not repeated.

What happened instead of this? What has always happened: an “à la turca” cacophony.

In my column six months ago, I had asked, “Will the offender be found?” about the accidents I mentioned above, and I had given this answer: “I don’t ever think so. Here, especially when there are powerful players on the stage, it is a rule that these kinds of incidents are delayed through time and society is made to forget.”

Ministries reacted fiercely to that. They insisted that light would be shed on the incidents.

What happened? An “à la turca” silence.

Did you watch the film “Madagascar?” There is a group of funny penguins there organizing an escape from the zoo. Their leader gives the same instruction at critical times: “Just smile and wave boys, just smile and wave.”

This could be a good motto for disasters in Turkey.

Metin Münir is a columnist for daily Milliyet in which this piece was published on Sept 12. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.