Young people and ideals

Young people and ideals

I watched dangerous tension unfold at Marmara University on TV, where some 50 students gathered to protest the arbitrary dismissal of academics without any judicial evidence. Another group of students intervened to stop them. Police came in between to prevent clashes from erupting. 

This really is dangerous tension. Wasn’t it because of the climb of tensions like this that made 3,500 young people kill each other before the Sept. 12 coup? Instead of killing or dying for the causes of the “left” or “right,” wouldn’t it have been better for themselves, their families and for the country if they had survived?
Wouldn’t it be better for young people today to study hard for a better future instead of fighting each other? 

When I meet young people, I ask them which books they are reading nowadays. I expect the rightists to pronounce names such as Fuat Köprülü, Sadri Maksudi, Mümtaz Turhan and Ali Fuat Başgil or similar new generation names. From leftists, I expect names such as Mehmet Ali Aybar, İsmail Cem, İdris Küçükömer, and economist Korkut Boratav, or their new generation counterparts. 

There are very bright young people, who are leagues ahead of me when I was their age. I am delighted, but how many of them are there? 

The average education and culture level of Turkey is not a pleasing one. Most of us regard slogans and political polemics as ideas. 

In his “Open Letter to a Young Man,” French writer André Maurois wished young men could learn from his mistakes.

My personal experience could be summed up as: “The quality of the person is more important than his or her ideas. The quality of the idea is more important than the color of the idea.”

Within the “charm of the struggle,” in my youth I experienced such a period. What enlightened me and put me back to life was my passion for reading. The more I read, the more I realized that the magnificent clichés that were imposed on us, the shiny slogans were actually empty; moreover they were used to make us yes-men.  

Not by orders, but by my own research, by my own pondering, my horizon had broadened. Today, young people have much easier access to much more resources. 

Not with orders, not by bowing down to pressure, but thinking and deciding with their own independent will truly suits the youth of today more.  

Reading requires not only those “from our side” but those from “the other side,” too. Books worth reading are all quality books. 

When you read one-sided books, then you are not illuminated, your ability to think does not advance. We only condition ourselves. 

If we do not develop our human quality, then we become a burden to the “cause” we believe in. We cannot go beyond being a spineless tool or a yes-man of the brothers, chiefs, and Mahdis. One cannot be successful in personal life either. 

My heart tears out when I think how many young people have wasted their lives assuming they were serving a cause. Especially those young people who have fallen prey to terror groups.  

Politics and ideology are not bad, as a matter of fact, they are beneficial for the socializing of young people, developing social relations and arising curiosity. 

But one should absolutely avoid violence through multilateral reading. Turkey needs generations who cling on life and who are improving themselves every moment. 

Ideals are elevated with the wisdom and morals of quality people.