For years I have lived happily in ignorance of the upheaval that is taking place all around me. Amidst all the chaos of wars being fought for no apparent reason other than greed and provocation, administrators in power trying to dictate or discriminate against people for their faith or lack thereof, recessions, inflations, bubbles, I was an island just staying happily afloat in deliberate naiveté. My only concerns related to taking care of my family, running my business, taking art lessons and going to galleries and museums wherever I may be. I didn’t read the newspapers or listen to the news, my only exception was listening every once in a while to my brother’s show, The Young Turks, on the internet but that was for pure entertainment. The reason for my self-imposed illiteracy was because I felt powerless and insignificant in face of all that was happening in the world; although this was my lifelong belief, the ’second Bush’ era, I believe, cemented the fact of an individual’s inconsequentiality. I only had one vote and that was the extent of my power, the current administration could do whatever pleased them or the interests they were supporting without being held accountable. The world would keep on turning, young people dying for no logical, humane reasons, some people going bankrupt while others’ endowments swelled to incomprehensible proportions whether I took notice or not…
I was living in Turkey for the past twenty years up until a year ago where most of everyone’s favorite pastime had to do with discussing either politics or football (soccer) neither of which I am even remotely interested in. “What is going to happen to this country” was the most frequent question that was on everyone’s lips and opening salvo for any conversation. The current politics always involved some kind of nauseating precept relating in some way to religion since the party in power is what is currently being dubbed as favoring ‘mild Islam’ in a secular state that is more than 90% Muslim. To the horror of most of the people I know, Turkey’s current president and prime minister’s wives are what we call ‘covered’ - they wear the ‘turban,’ the biggest political statement in Turkey these days. I can hear from everyone around me of the good old days back in the 50’s and 60’s when the only women who wore headscarves were the elderly relatives in people’s families. For years, there I was, a woman who grew up and was educated in the United States, trying to raise two boys to be world citizens, aware of their own heritage and national identity while attempting to come to terms with a country that was supposed to be my motherland in which I felt more an outsider every day.
Keeping myself news-free wasn’t an easy task either when my husband’s favorite pastime was listening to the news and all the talk shows and panels discussing the current economy and the political scene; the Turkish nightly news is anything but local or whimsical. Unfortunately, thanks to my husband, we went to see the movie, ‘Inside Job’ on Saturday and it is the end of my innocence, I am now much more knowledgeable about the current economic mess we are in and started to recognize the protagonists on television where they seem to appear every other second. So, now I know about deregulation and risky mortgages and derivatives, and I recognized the former CEO of Countrywide Insurance, Angelo Mozilo when Cenk mentioned him Tuesday night on Countdown, I also know that there is no end in sight… and what has that gotten me in return… is my family’s or my own life more enriched in any way because of this uncalled for knowledge? Am I a better person or one that is more beneficial to the world at large due to this bit of wisdom?
When the lights went on in the theater after viewing 'Inside Job', I couldn’t help but agree with the sentiment of the gentleman who was sitting one row behind me … “I want to go throw myself under a bus now…”
Instead I want to throw this question out into the world, hoping to get some kind of an intelligent alternative, after all that I have seen and learned, how can anyone blame me for wanting to retreat to the beautiful world of art where the contemporary works challenge and exhilarate my intellect and all that is left of the past rulers like the Medici from the time of the Renaissance are beautiful art effects that have made our world more refined. I only wish that the current political and financial ‘powers’ would leave something more than this desolate landscape for future generations to study.