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March 20, 2012, Tuesday

My eyes are set on shores far more alluring than your polemics

Two columnists from the Hürriyet daily are trying to get me to enter into a polemic with them. One of them, Ahmet Hakan, wrote an open letter to me titled “Dear Hüseyin Gülerce.” The other, Ertuğrul Özkök, titled his “Hüseyin Bey, who do you think said this?”

But I have no intention of getting caught up in a polemic with either of these fellows. This despite the fact that I actually enjoy those sorts of debates, and have no doubt I would emerge the victor. If I were the same Hüseyin Gülerce that used to write years ago for the Milli Mücadele (National Struggle) magazine, I wouldn't think twice before taking up the gauntlet; I would wield my pen like a sword, fall victim to my emotions, and let the barbs fly fast and free. Yes, I would have long since taken action if I were still that man.

But I won't this time, because I have changed. I am now 62 years of age and have made a principled decision not to spend time fighting individuals in my writing. I don't even respond to a punch anymore. I won't even say anything in response to the hundreds of insults aimed at me from those over at OdaTV because, after all, you know how it is: Those who punch the air with their fists over and over will soon enough become weary. I have taken this advice to heart: Be patient, forgive, renounce your rights sometimes, go late… Take care of your own business, try to win hearts. Work to lift the barriers that lie between God and the people around you. Think about how some of Prophet Muhammad's companions went to Central Asia, won over hearts there, and we are still there. But on the other hand, consider how we entered Spain in force, and we are no longer there.

Even though it may be difficult for me sometimes, I am determined to be respectful of everyone's position. Yes, I am determined and resolute on this: I will maintain my own honor and style, as everyone else around me does what works best for them. But at the same time, when it comes to the trampling of people's rights, or the exploitation of the already downtrodden, or the fearlessness of those cruel ones who are responsible for the deaths of so many, I will never give up using my pen to its full degree, or standing strong and choosing honor and dignity rather than vile carelessness. I will never be tolerant of those who commit these cruelties, or of those who support them. After all, there is such a thing as a public case, and public interests.

No doubt I see things quite differently on a number of topics when compared to columnists Özkök and Hakan. Let me provide one small example that illuminates these basic differences. Along with 58 percent of the voting public, I also said “yes” to the referendum on Sept. 12, 2010. And I did not limit myself just to saying “yes” either. As someone who hails from Keşan, I gave conferences all over Thrace about the importance of casting a “yes” vote in this referendum. I believed that voting “yes” was the most important turning point yet in ensuring that our 150-year-old democracy continues to move forward. It made me so happy to be able to say “yes” to this. Finally, a people were having their voices heard, a people who had previously always been left out of the loop. Civil power and authority had finally discovered the greatest energy they needed. A parched democracy was finally quenching its thirst!

As for columnists Özkök and Hakan, they embraced the stance of the 42 percent who voted “no” in this referendum. They stood with the Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). I never ever belittled that 42 percent block of voters. I have never ignored the worries and hesitations of the secular factions of society. To the contrary in fact, I have observed that we need to take great strides when it comes to expressing ourselves. I have taken every possible opportunity to write about and remind all how it is that only empathy for other views will allow us to transcend polarization. I am for the uniting of us all as a people; I am for our mutual brotherhood. I believe deep down in my heart that all the differences contained and housed in this country are in fact our wealth.

As a physics teacher, allow me to provide another example. It is white light which is easiest on our eyes. In other words, sunshine. But if you pass this same light through a prism, you will see a host of colors, from purple to dark blue, lighter blue, green, yellow, orange and red. Each one of these colors is quite hard on the eyes. You might just adore the color green, but imagine if everything in life were green. The same goes for every other color. But when you achieve balance in all these colors, when they all come together in this white light, just think about how much serenity and calmness it inspires. We can think the same way about our societal colors. And the prism that we search for to look through is really democracy, a democracy in which everyone respects everyone else's position, a democracy in which true democrats are raised and brought forth.

This is my true love. I will not enter into a polemic anytime soon.

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