As kids start school

There are 15 million children that are of primary school age in Turkey. The number of children who are in the first grade this year is about 1 million. In about 15 years, these children will take their places in different areas of life and start to make their impact on the fate of the country. The world in which they live has never been this small. These children will experience life with identities as "world citizens" in a global universe as opposed "earthlings" living on this planet, like their predecessors.

New generations are luckier in this regard. As many Turkish academics would say in the past, "The land where our grandparents lived was much wider than ours, and land of our children will be much larger than ours." Unluckily, we, as the intermediate generations, could not experience this vastness which grandparents and grandchildren could or will live. The generations who were born between the 1940s and 1960s grew up in the Cold War atmosphere that desensitized minds and trapped souls. They got to know the world only through the perspective of their small worlds and within the limits imposed by official ideologies. We grew up with many fears and viewed neighboring countries and nations as real or potential threats. Fear permeated every area of our lives.
Yes, this was how Turkey's conditions were. We know that all the children of our generations in other countries grew up like us during the years when the Cold War dominated the world. Today there is a new world and a new Turkey. Yes, there are still issues of hunger, unemployment and poverty. Conflicts and wars are abundant in the Muslim world in particular. There are also the bigger environmental issues that a pose threat to the entire planet. Still, the world is a more livable place compared to the Cold War era. The Iron Curtain in the minds of the people has just started to be removed and the ruins of the Berlin Wall are only slowly being cleared away. Do we not already witness these developments in our own country, which was on the frontline during the Cold War era?

Today, there is a Turkey whose mind is open and who is at peace with its neighbors and this rationality in Turkey is visible in every part of life. Schooling, urbanization and an improvement in communication means everyone lends support to this process. It is due to a pure lack of luck that it is politics that finds it hardest to adapt to the realities of the new Turkey. The political culture of the political parties system as well as the wider sphere around it still carries traces of the Cold War era. This applies to the parties' local organizations, political discourses and to how these parties organize their opposition. This is the missing link in the development cycle of Turkey. Politics in Turkey lags behind social development and loses the grounds for its legitimacy, which seems to be one of the biggest problems that Turkey will face in the future.

The 15 million children in primary school education today will not grow up with their minds desensitized or their souls darkened. Thus, we can be optimistic about the future of Turkey. For politics to have legitimacy in the eyes of today's children, who will be tomorrow's adults, the political players must wake up to the realities of the new world. Society will naturally find courses to move in, but we must not let it lose time or energy in doing so. Politicians may start this process by abandoning the populist discourses that they have been using for the last 40 years.

Gürkan Zengin