There are days when one feels worn-out, fed up, desperate and aimless. Depression and lack of joy dominate such days – one feels upset and unwilling to do anything. That was how I felt on July 16, following the events of the night before. I am sure you had similar feelings. I am also sure that your feelings today are pretty much the same. Sadly we are going through times where trust is lost and peace is forgotten. We all live in fear and anxiety. We do not understand what has happened and we do not know what is to come, which makes us feel even more ineffective and desperate. And those feelings eventually lead to the despair.
In my opinion the most powerful feeling that humans have been endowed with is “hope”. Hope lets people hold on to life. Plato’s “Republic,” which searches for an answer to the question of “What is truth?” refers to hope as “…hope which is mightiest to sway the restless soul of man.” I find that very meaningful. We all know one day we will be dead. But each new days gives us hope and we try to live every day, which may be the last day of our lives. The faintest hope has the power to connect us to life even at the worst moment, when we are feeling most fed up, and takes us to the next day. And so on.
Chaos is not unique to Turkey. Just like Amin Maalouf suggests in his “Disordered World,” humankind has the tendency to consume civilisation for purposes based on short-term interests. Countries, organizations, institutions, politicians, the media, companies and the like are all a part of chaos. The real aim of fear-spreading systems that feed on chaos is to confuse people and make them lose all hope. This way people become demoralised, divided, disempowered; they become desperate and at a loss thus they can easily be exploited and managed.
What can we do?
These days we all have a self-created plan B. These are shared on various platforms in the form of advice. I am now going to explain how I carry out my B plan by trying to do the following:
1) Expanding my sphere of influence: Recently I have been working harder than before and I am trying to improve myself professionally. I try to attend more events and activities held by the companies and organisations in the sector and I try to meet with entrepreneurs and college students more often. I try to be better-organised at work and to make long-term plans. The corporate sustainability efforts made by my company is an example of this: these efforts intend to create a balance between economic gain and social and environmental impact in light of principals of corporate governance. This idea was a product of a similarly difficult period.
2) Learning new things: The most valuable personal example I have for you is that I have recently started to learn a new language. From scratch. It keeps my brain alive while contributing greatly to my creativity- because it is unfamiliar. Writing is another example. One has to first learn in order to be able to produce and to create real value. I choose to read about learning new things and writing about them with the aim of sharing what I have learned with others- rather than wasting my time reading about conspiracy theories about demotivating issues over which I have no control. I attend concerts, visit museums and enjoy other artistic events. I also take part in cultural trips and seminars we organise at my firm.
3) Looking after individuals, groups and companies that share my values: I believe that it is our virtues and values that give meaning to life and make us who we are. We must protect values such as acting ethically; sharing; prioritising good-quality in anything one does; fulfilling responsibility towards nature and society; producing more than what one consumes; being sensitive and respecting diversity deserve protection more than ever before. A simple contribution would be reviewing our shopping habits: if we choose to buy goods and services offered by businesses that pay their taxes regularly and benefit the environment and society; that observe ethical principles of trade and emphasise sustainability and that that adopted the principle of responsible gain, would not that mean supporting the businesses that protect those values?
4) Spending more time with family and close friends: How often do you visit elderly family members? How often do you see your closest friends? What devices would you like to use less often –such as television and mobile phones- and see your friends instead? Does not the smile of a young family member make all problems go away? Often we fail to ask ourselves these questions in the flow of life, repeating the same patterns over and over again. What would we want to change in our lives if we asked ourselves those questions?
5) Being closer to nature and, if possible, exercising in nature: Stuck in the noisy world of concrete that we created, we forget that we come from the nature. Recently I did yoga with an instructor under the pine trees at the top of a hill on an island. The smell of fresh soil, the cries of seagulls and the unique view of the Marmara Sea made my experience all the more enjoyable. Istanbul, the city where I live, is surrounded by trekking and walking-tracks and it hosts many different species of endemic plants and other living things. If we move closer to the nature, make an effort to get to know these different species with which we share an ecosystem, and respect their right to life they will let us share the beauty they offer.
6) Taking part in social responsibility projects and supporting them morally and financially: I attend more frequently and give more support to the events and activities organised by associations and foundations that concentrate on culture, education, environment, sustainability, entrepreneurship and other similar fields that are close to my heart. The least one can do under these difficult economic and social circumstances is to attend a meeting of an association and thank those hard-working individuals for existing. Are you aware that this would be a huge source of motivation for them?
These hard times will certainly pass. However, we should avoid being distracted by trying to make sense of the countless incidents and stimulants that make us confused and depressed- concentrating on what we know and working in fields where we can create added value, staying true to our essence, and defending –no matter what- the values that make us who were are will make it easier to see the light at the end of the tunnel and make the pain of despair go away. And if we stand by each other –more than ever before- while doing all this, we will certainly be more resistant to difficulty.