Dance the Past Into the Future,
the older generation clearly have parallel experiences. Most notably
of loss---of foods, festivals, and ways of life, like animal
husbandry. But one loss in particular has a sting. It forces me to
evaluate my own attitudes and behaviors, especially those of my
and respect. The elders say it's almost gone. They say the two go
hand in hand. "Without respect there is no love, and without
love there is nothing." What about following your heart,
as I hear so much about in the West. Will our hearts lead us to show
great respect for someone else at cost to ourselves?
people who have never met start saying the same thing, and when that
thing is as weighty as, "love and respect are gone", I
start paying attention. Our elders' extensive experience and
observations enables them to act as social-doctors providing sobering
diagnosis. Listen up, World, to our Turkish elders.
say when love and respect were present, true community existed.
People spent more time
together--- more time discussing life instead of watching TV
together. People would help each other. In the village they would
share water for animals, not claim it and hoard it. "In the
old days", when it was barley threshing time, for example,
everyone would help one person one day and someone else on another
day. When building homes, the whole neighborhood would carry
wood from the forest up to the plateau highlands.
suppose this is similar to when I help a friend move apartments in
America. It's usually a friend and not a random neighbor, though. One
character said, "Nowadays, it's whatever I can accomplish on my
own." That mantra sounds all too familiar. Again I find myself
asking, what is progress, really? How should humans define a
win for humanity, for self?
above are clearly examples of living in community, in harmony. I want
that. But what about showing respect in seemingly more trite ways,
like taking off my hat indoors. I rejected that one growing up,
thinking to myself, "Get over your illogical hang-ups, people!
It's a hat! In other countries you cover your head to show respect!"
is an action, not just a feeling. If you've been in a relationship,
you know this. Actions show both respect and love. Doing something
out of respect also shows love. That's why they say the two go
together. I understand this in the context of my marriage, but only
sometimes in community. And I suspect I'm often blind to it within
society at large. Why? What happened? My grandpa "got it",
lived it and breathed it.
Turkish elders explained respect like this: When dad comes home,
stand up and don't sit down until he does. Straighten his jacket and
shoes. Would I have wanted to do that in my teens? No. But how would
I feel if my little ones grew up and did that for me? I'd feel like a
king in my own tiny home.
more: Don't light a cigarette while sitting next to your elders. By
not crossing your legs and slouching when sitting next to elders, you
show them respect. They see you sitting upright and know it's for
are the roots of this loss of love and respect? I can point to
cultural influencers like film---as far back as Rebel Without A
Cause (1955), starring James Dean. Or to music of that
era. Film and music usually add momentum to something that's already
in existence within the culture, though.
What about the 60's hippie movement? I can only see things from a
distance that I didn't live through within my own culture. But I know
those cultural factors influenced my parents and me. And we know
American culture has global influence. How has Turkey been affected?
Turkish audiences will have to explore this for themselves. One
interviewee claimed that in her youth they had no TV or internet,
therefore they obeyed their elders. “Now the youth don't listen.
They want to be like the cool people on TV.”
what now? Does anyone really want to regain the past or shape the
future based on these older value systems?
the old ways were ditched for good reasons. But if we determine not
to show respect unless someone deserves it, we can always find a way
out. We can always accurately critique flawed human beings. So where
is the line drawn? If we stop participating in showing signs of
respect, at what point do we find we're “accomplishing only what we
can do on our own” instead of as a community? Love and respect are
the ropes that tie people together. I learn this from my own Faith,
and I'm learning it from Muslim Turks 25+ years older than me.