Alper Tanca
5 minutes

Many years ago, when I was still a raw fruit, I used to spend summers in Türkbükü, Bodrum. Türkbükü had just become famous at that time, but it was still a lovely, beautiful place. The house we stayed in was like a fortress with its high stone walls and a huge Kangal dog inside. One day, while I was doing something in the garden, an aunt came in through the door. Despite his advanced age, he was a vigorous, bright-eyed villager from Türkbükü. He walked in with confident steps, said hello and then sat down on the sofa. He was doing everything so naturally that even the watchdog, which barks at flying birds, did not dare to bark after taking one look at him, but went back to where he was lying. Tell me, son, who are you? What are you? Where did you come from? Where do you go? He said. I was watching her with my mouth open, dumbfounded. Just as it is unacceptable for a city dweller to open the door of an apartment building, let a neighbor in and sit in the living room, I felt the same in that garden house. I was so surprised that I couldn’t even offer him a cup of tea, I still get angry with myself. I don’t remember what I replied, but after a while she said, “Stay safe, son,” and left the garden as quietly as she had come. So what did this aunt have that I didn’t?

All the training I have received on resilience, or resilience, says that in order for individuals to be resilient, that is, to be able to bounce back from adversity or trauma and return to a state of feeling good and safe, there needs to be a set of conditions. One of the most important of these conditions is to be in a healthy social network. That is, establishing and maintaining positive relationships with others, building a sense of belonging and meaningful communication with others. We are getting further and further away from being able to make these connections in urban life, where we individualize, where we put being an individual ahead of being a social being at every opportunity. Let’s face it, most of us are very lonely. We are alone in the crowd, but we are thirsty for real relationships. The fact that we are surrounded by many people does not quench our thirst; on the contrary, we are like a survivor who drinks salt water and gets thirstier. That aunt had not even seen the high walls around the house, they were nothing to her. I thought about why, and the only answer I could come up with was “Because, first of all, he didn’t have such high walls within himself.” He did not imprison himself behind walls of his own making, as we do. We were busy building invisible and visible walls around us, starting from within ourselves. Sometimes we built a wall with our role as the boss, sometimes we had to be the strong father and added another wall, sometimes we had to crush other employees at work, sometimes we didn’t want to show our soft underbelly to anyone, we built the strongest wall around our heart. Before we knew it, the walls that were supposed to protect us from the outside had become our own prison.

It is as if we misunderstood the issue and leaned towards individualism when we wanted to build a personality. Today’s society and the capitalist system blur the distinction between individualism and the discovery of one’s individuality. Personality construction can be associated with an individual’s determination of his or her unique worldview and ethical values, and finding meaning and purpose by adhering to these values. This process can take place through the individual’s life experiences, interaction with the environment, education, learning and personal reflection. In other words, personality construction is a process shaped not only by personal experiences but also by social and cultural influences. Individualization generally refers to the process by which an individual develops a personal identity independent of society, cultural norms or external influences. Individualism is a philosophical or political doctrine that believes that individuals’ own interests and needs are more important than their interests in society or groups. Individualism believes that individuals have the freedom to make their own decisions, make their own choices and live their own lives. There is nothing wrong with this either, but the limits of individualism must be judged in the context of social relations and ethics and must not be excessive. All three concepts can coexist. But when we lean too far to one side, one of the legs of the chair is shortened and the balance is disturbed.

My aunt from Turkbuku was unfamiliar with these concepts; capitalism, competition, and the emphasis on the individual were not in her notebook. What he learned from his ancestors were the basic rules of the Anatolian lore tradition. For her, the neighbor was not only the stranger living next door, but also the one she would ask for help when she was in a jam, drink tea with when she was bored, share a pastry with when she made a pastry, the one she did not “marginalize”. Whoever came through the door was a guest of God, and so was he when he went to the neighbor. When he built his walls, he did not use the stones roughly. He had only built a small fence around the garden of his heart, just enough to protect his self, his self-respect and his values. This fence was strong enough to keep the wolf and the coyote out, but permeable enough to keep the butterfly and the bee in. Just as it should be…

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