Our motivation was to hear an insider’s account of what was going on on the political stage. For no reason, he changed the subject to the Gülen movement, leveling meaningless and extreme criticism against this community. It was neither the proper place nor the proper time for such criticism. Besides, his accounts bore no relevance to the paper’s content. However, hospitality to our guests was our responsibility. We just listened to him. Some of our friends wanted to intervene, but the moderator did not let them speak because just as the destructive criticisms from people who are not related to the subject matter seek to remove stones from the wall, counter-criticisms can also be damaging. We had to listen to these criticisms anyway…
Our guest of honor was so surprised by our attitude that he had to ask, “Won’t you respond to my criticisms?” There was no response to give. And there was no need to. Smiling, he asked, “Are you offended?” Obviously, he was uncomfortable with this unpleasant atmosphere. Maybe he wanted to learn what we were thinking. In response to his insistence, I said: “You will understand the value of our friendship when you lose it.” He stared at me with surprise. He told me, “This [hurtful remark] was huge.” And this time, we were upset. But this sentence actually expressed the reality and truth.
Actually life is all about a thin line drawn between possession and losing; is that not right? It is not easy to appreciate the days of youth without actually losing them. We are not aware of the value and perfection of our body system before we lose our health. People who have media fame and reputation often fail to realize that they are actually alienated and isolated within the crowds. In conclusion, most of the time, we fail to understand before death that every second in our life is actually very valuable.
Would you look at what is left from the flood in Samsun? Many criticisms were raised against the TOKİ housing units built in the flood zone. But these criticisms now have no meaning after 12 people died. In addition, statements made in the aftermath of the flood in an effort to justify the previous decisions were also offensive. If there is disaster out there, the pain and agony associated with it should be shared. The subsequent statements and explanations should be based on a rational framework and able to speak to the conscience of the public.
There is one question lingering in the minds of the people after the flood in Samsun: People are living in houses constructed in flood zones in many residential places including İstanbul. Some time ago, this issue was discussed in the media and reports were published referring to the areas to be evacuated in the case of a flood risk as a precaution. But do the authorities really keep the promises they make after natural disasters?
This also applies to the earthquake issue. Whenever the earth’s crust shakes, people get scared and solution packages are announced. You would have a huge encyclopedia-like volume if you collected all the statements made on TV in respect to urban transformation. Where is this glorious “transformation” referred to in these statements? It has been 13 years since a major quake in 1999 claimed 981 lives in İstanbul; people are still facing the same risk in this city. There are so many obstacles before well-intended initiatives and efforts including fights and feuds between owners of houses and their disagreements with the public authorities over expropriation. When will we discuss this vital and crucial issue again? Will we talk about this only when another quake kills many people?
This is the case in every field. For instance, on Parliament’s last day before its recess, a bill was passed. As a result of a discrete process, specially authorized courts were abolished; what replaced these courts is not certain, creating a legal uncertainty. Those who supported this legal amendment are now raising their voice to express their objections. You look back and ask, then: Why were these legal amendments made considering that nobody is pleased with them? There is no reasonable answer to this; besides, many suspicions and questions emerge in connection with it.
It is possible to give other examples. Unfortunately, in decision-making on some issues, a comprehensive approach is not adopted. And it is not only the state that commits mistakes. For instance, our businesspeople, who deserve appreciation because of their dynamism, fail when it comes to planning. Our people find it difficult to devote time and resources to planning and do not like theoretical issues and considerations. This also applies to our intellectuals. They focus on daily matters and daily issues. However, most of the issues require comprehensive attention and consideration. Our country is suffering from lack of deliberation and extensive thinking. In the end, this affects our country and nation, and mostly our future generations.
Of course, there are many lessons that should be learned from the flood in Samsun. However, those who seek an opportunity to raise strong criticisms against the authorities do not use this opportunity effectively because they are not considered objective and impartial. Of course, everybody should be able to raise criticisms and the relevant parties should listen to these criticisms. But past experiences show that what really matters in such cases is the ability and determination of the authorities to be critical of themselves and learn their own lessons. Will this happen? Sadly, it is not possible to say “yes” to this question.
The authorities have a strange attitude in this country. Nobody acknowledges their own mistakes. What is even worse is that this idea of always being right becomes a strong belief. Is it possible that everything is proper and right? Is that possible? Do not people make mistakes?
The gravest mistake that officials can commit is the assumption that they cannot make any mistakes; and unfortunately, this is a longstanding attitude that has been passed down through generations. A mistake is committed; an apology is offered. Sometimes, a mistake is committed without anyone knowing it; sometimes, a mistake is committed in the planning stage.
An authority who claims that everything he does is right sometimes offends his friends because he expects support all the time. However, the fundamental principle of proper administration is to hear constructive criticisms and to plan the future based on the lessons drawn out of these criticisms. We will see whether TOKİ will be able to do this. Otherwise, we will see the continuation of mistakes.