I have almost never written anything about politics or even rarely talked about it. It’s not that I don’t have an opinion, I just believe that it is a polarizing topic based on very subjective concepts similar to supporting a football team (for example Fenerbahce, Istanbul J), choosing a camera brand (I like NikonJ), or preference for a favorite food (kebapJ as we Turks). Regardless of their success, we are mostly fixed to these inherent choices, which are mostly dictated/imposed into our brains by our family and social environment. For example, a typical Turkish -including my 10 years younger version- would say about Sushi “Are you crazy, could raw fish be eaten? And that it would taste awful and I would never eat it…”. Well, if we were born in Japan, we would probably love it because then we would be born into it. Of course, if we are open minded, we may try it and love it, too. Surely we can live without eating Sushi, but the point is how much we want to learn and enjoy life. If we don’t, how much do we respect who does?
Should we be satisfied with our inherent ideas or should we try to learn new ideas to develop our own personality and opinions? There is a simple biological process in life: experience dependent (plasticity) learning and development. If we don’t expose ourselves to new environments, new people and new experiences, learning will be restricted to what we are loaded with. Therefore, such countries (or regimes in such countries) with strict regulations try to keep people with fewer options so that they don’t develop individual ideas to challenge their systems. Imagine these as circles in one other (each circle represents a novel level of experience) and we –the individuals– are dots that are born in the center and go outwards over time depending on the novel experiences that we make. The most inner circle represents our parents and our extended family, then the subsequent outer circle and is our environment (friends, school etc.) and so forth. The more we learn and integrate experiences in our personality, the more we develop and advance to outer circles. This would naturally lead to a society with individuals having their own ideas, perspectives and solutions to problems. However, if the rulers sit in the most inner circles, they will not have the competence to control such a society. Only people who have sufficient experience would have the capacity to oversee the lifestyle of individuals scattered all around the outermost circles. Unfortunately, this learning ability goes down significantly with ageing, and we become more and more stuck to our ideas and people with similar life styles. In addition, when we do not know what lies in the outer circles, we would be afraid and automatically assume that they are dangerous and that it is safer to stay in the circle that we know. Therefore, I believe that novel-experience dependent education is the most important and critical for the development of strong individuals and their society. Only such individuals in such societies can make the breakthroughs and produce solutions to devastating health, wealth and social problems.
Back to politics J: I believe that with a strong political view it is very common to categorize people in X or Y to say that they are bad ones (uneducated, unaware, irresponsible, selfish etc.) but we are the one who know everything better. Because politics is based on win or loose paradigm, it creates strong polarization in the society and less tolerance for others. I see my facebook wall today is full of hateful or joyful provocative messages due to recent elections in Turkey. Is that needed? Even if the politicians are at the outermost circle, I don’t think that the change will come soon if the society lies in the most inner circle.
Because of all the above, I would prefer to talk about ideas/concepts (rather than politics) with positive approaches that can teach me something and take me one step forward. I would put my efforts to educate myself and share what I learnt with others hopefully with a full respect for their perspectives. Therefore, I strongly believe that “education” (both material and moral) is the most important factor to define the future of a nation rather than political fights. Living in different countries and meeting people from different cultures, I always have been surprised how good the people or the ideas are as opposed to what I thought initially. Only when I try to see their point of view and respect who they are in their entirety with empathy, then my vision changed. I then started to learn new cultures, opinions and much more, rather than my personal determined mindset. I feel that I grow, I feel that the world is much more fun and worth living.
So, how about elections and politics…When I vote, my main consideration would be, “why” I vote for, rather than whom I vote for. I vote to have a country with FREE strong individuals who are open to learn and apply new concepts/ideas and at the same time respect the others. Only those who are afraid of learning new ideas and of progress try to restrict other people’s lifestyles. We don’t have to be born in Japan to love Sushi, and we can simply respect their food habits even if we don’t dare to try. Banning or hatefully talking about others’ ideas and lifestyle has never been a solution of developed societies.