The awkward common values of the Turks

The awkward common values of the Turks

There is a new initiative started under the leadership of Begüm Doğan Faralyalı, the chairwoman of Doğan Holding. It is an exercise to think about our common values.

It is indeed a very inspiring initiative. I suddenly found myself listing our common values. Not all are positive but most of them are. The list could go on and on, but let me give you my own list.

- Perhaps the first is respect for Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey. He is the greatest common value of this country, and we believe Atatürk is the greatest leader. We respect him. We love him. We are proud of him. And we remember him on every occasion.

- Another shared value is the way we all search for someone to save us. We are always looking for someone to get us out of a problem we have fallen into. We pray for a “second Atatürk.”

- Where are you from?  We are obsessed with this so we are always asking this question. It is important to come from the same province. We are always looking for someone from our home town. And we are always dreaming of going back to our roots.

- Our friends and neighbors are almost as important as our family. We still have this characteristic, even if it is getting weaker. You cannot find it to the same extent in other countries. 

- Not all of our common values can be good. We also give a lot of importance to wondering about “what the others will say.” We live for others. We keep a separate room closed in our house ready for guests. We live in living rooms in the way we like it. But our guest rooms are always clean and proper so that our guests don’t say a bad word about us.

- We are an emotional nation. Speak to our heart and you can win us over. You can rule us with emotions, not with logic. Indeed, we love power. We adore it. This is also a common value.

- But still I have never seen a nation more pragmatic than the Turks. We are street smart. We love short cuts. We are not bound by various rules. We just say “so what” and do whatever we want.

- The popular singer and composer Sezen Aksu is another one of our common values. We cry to her songs and we become overjoyed with her songs. It is extremely difficult to translate her lyrics for foreigners.

- The late Zeki Müren holds a similar place for us. Everyone appreciates his performances of traditional Turkish music.

- Raki, fish and mezze. This is also a common value for a lot of people. Even if without the alcoholic rakı, everyone enjoys conversations at a table full of mezzes.

- The call to prayer. It is nice to live in a country where there are calls to prayer. Still, calls that are not well performed can be very annoying, especially if more than one bad performance comes at the same time from several mosques.

- Hospitality. We exaggerate this very much. But I have never seen another nation that shows so much hospitality to its guests.

- Eat, eat, for the love of God eat. Our obsession with food is another expression of our hospitality. That dinner we have cooked must be consumed.

- Seeing women as a second-class citizens is unfortunately another common value. Men are always first for everything. It’s stupid but that’s the way it is. It may change in time. It definitely has to.

- Creativity in dirty language is another disgusting shared value.

- As is oppressed sexuality. I can’t imagine how many generations have suffered from that.

- Still, making love using different methods in order to avoid losing one’s virginity: Effectively staying virgin while engaging in a lot of sexual activity. This hypocrisy is another of our common values.

- We have plenty of respect for the old and mercy for the needy. More than in many other countries.

- We all love taking risks in daily life. For example, we love trying to cross to the other side of a highway as the traffic is passing by. 

- Family is another common value for us, and thank God that is the case!