‘Neighborhood spirit’ against polarization
The title is surprising, but it comes from a column printed in the United States. The U.S. is suffering to a certain extent from the issue of political polarization on the street – the kinds of which we are unfortunately very familiar with. The column in the New Yorker magazine asked this question “You have a Clinton sign on your lawn. He has a Trump sign on his. Can you get along?”
The piece has quotes from Nancy Rosenblum’s book “Good Neighbors: The Democracy of Everyday Life in America.” The column explains that a good neighbor is not the one who votes for the same party you do. A good neighbor is one who does not make noise, who does not trash your yard, who shares the apples from their apple tree. Because of the practicality of this neighbor relationship, you do the same. It’s an exchange. While politics are based on abstract concepts, neighborhood relations are concrete and practical.
There is an interesting sentence in the book “Good neighbors make for good citizens, and vice versa.”
I am taking one step forward and I suggest this argument: “Bad neighbors, in other words, those who make a lot of noise, who create trouble, who discriminate others because of their political preferences, are bad citizens.” As a matter of fact, the issue is to be able to live together in peace, no matter how insane politics get. For this reason, you would not send back a wonderfully cooked delicious dish of grape leaves stuffed with spiced rice that your neighbor has brought you. Even if you want to throw it back at their head; you accept it, wash the dish and put a delicious special “börek” on it and return it to them.
In my opinion, neighborly relations should be totally isolated from politics and cherished. It should not be forgotten that 79 million people are neighbors with each other. This is especially true in times of polarization.
We have given up watching news on TV because we often cry for martyrs, we have no other alternative but to pray and say “This shall all pass.” But unfortunately, we are a nation who knows terror only too well. Polarization sucks, but in a weariness that has been going on for years, we have gotten used to this.
Even the economy does not matter so much for us; we have seen so many crises in the past. The social media trolls are more ignorant and more threatening than ever, but everybody has understood that they do not reflect society and that they are harmful to the party they defend wholeheartedly. There aren’t many who take them seriously anymore.
Foreign relations are as you know. We are at a stage when politicians say “God bless this,” journalists are saying “damn this fate” and security experts are saying “may God help and guide our country.” However, there is nothing we can do. If anybody criticizes the failures in justice and press freedom, or this or that, they are told: “Dude, what are you saying? We are at war.” Well, this is also true unfortunately.
However, none of these scare me as much as the troubled faces of politicians.
What I draw from their faces is concern, trouble, desparation, exhaustion and insomnia. What I hear from their mouths is worse: accusations, naming and yelling. When PM Binali Yıldırım is talking to businesspeople or even when he makes a minor joke in between the lines, it creates a dose of relief. I am sure a moderation in the language and the face of politics, an overarching sentence and a relaxing expression will change this anxious atmosphere.
People have now stopped making comments or analyses, but are looking at the faces of politicians to see some sort of hope, to see reconciliation among themselves and/or with citizens holding opposing views.