Let’s not replace militarist youth with religionist youth
We were just kids and we were not able to fully comprehend; moreover, we did not even know what we were saying when we took an oath every morning.
We “gave away our existence for the existence of the Turkish nation.”
It was like a game for us. After this, we entered classrooms. Facing each of us and in a most visible place, there was an extremely handsome picture of our “Ata” (father), there with his penetrating looks.
Right below it was his “Address to Youth.” I have forgotten his name now, but we had a military science teacher who used to salute Atatürk’s picture each time he entered and exited the classroom.
We all thought this was extremely funny but nobody dare raise a voice. Moreover, it was a strange class where heroic lectures were given and nobody took it seriously.
We grew up. Then we had to do our military service. The military service was demonstrated as a privilege to the youth, an opportunity to pay the debts owed to the nation. We were surrounded by interior and exterior enemies and how happy we were that we had the opportunity, if necessary, to give our lives to protect our land.
After military service was done, around this time every year, we had to show up at the Military Draft Office and sign the register under the name of “roll call.” This annual rendezvous was as if the General Staff wanted to be remembered, giving the message, “I have my eye on you. Don’t ever think of fleeing. I will call you back again when the time comes.”
For some, all of this might sound and look as if it was a trivial or unnecessary game. But, they have nailed militarism to all of our brains.
We have raised and trained militarist young generations.
Also, circumstances were favorable for this; moreover, developments beyond our control were stimulating this approach.
The years between 1920 and 1950 were spent with two world wars and efforts to sustain the Republic.
The years from 1950 to 1990 were the Cold War era, living with fear of communism. NATO and the United States wanted all of us to be trained as strict anti-communists, as militarist young people ready to die for, not only for his country but also to protect Europe from a possible Russian invasion, if necessary. That suited our book also and we trained and raised generations “thinking like a soldier” in an exaggerated way. For this reason we never questioned military coups; we acted like soldiers.
Now, it is enough.
There is no room now in today’s world to “think like a soldier.”
There is no room now in today’s world to train militarist youth.
Because of this, it is a right decision to abandon military classes in secondary education.
Because of this, it is a right decision to close 181 military draft offices…
Is it religious youth or religionist youth?
Just as it was time to end the era of raising and training militarist-minded youth, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s speech the other day stirred minds. There is nothing wrong in his words. “We will raise a religious youth.”
Well, indeed, a generation of atheists (those who don’t believe in God) will not be raised. But we know from previous practices that we are not a society who masters in moderation.
While we attempt at raising a generation who knows his or her religion well, a religious generation, we can very easily, in a short time, get caught up in a race of raising a strictly conservative religionist generation. There is a fine line between them. Once we overdo it, then we will find ourselves in a much more dangerous field.