Gönenç Gürkaynak

Attorney, Istanbul Bar, New York Bar, Law Society of England and Wales. Twitter: @GurkaynakGonenc

“Depravity implies crudeness and loss of respectability. One would not expect it to be associated with arrogance.” (Photo: Downloaded from Pixabay.)

Gönenç Gürkaynak

Is nobody considered depraved or lowly, banal and mediocre, or even common, anymore? Or are we left only with the “powerful” and the “weak” on this earth?

Once upon a time, there used to exist people who, although powerful, could not garner any respectability; who were deemed to be vulgar despite their riches; who, lacking originality and novelty, could not get an audience, despite shouting their beliefs from the rooftops. Are they still around? We don’t see much of them anymore. Not because they have vanished into thin air. Those who revere power, equate riches with wisdom, and believe that yelling will make them witty, compelling or right, have multiplied so much, they have created a world of their own. They cheer and feed off of one another. The powerful are on stage, and they are busy gloating.

Depravity implies crudeness and loss of respectability. One would not expect it to be associated with arrogance. After all, if they had their priorities in order, the undignified and crude would live out their days in hiding, let alone exhibit any arrogance. A respected person derives this respectability from their added value. However, if a society’s priorities shift towards power, and as more people value power regardless of its source, then a new type of person, the depraved arrogant, may emerge. These people feed and breed, by living their arrogance through those who created them. A new stage is set for the fans of power. And since they would receive no loyalty if the source of power on stage happened to change, they are always in need of more power. In exchange for this power, they nourish the ones who granted it to them, by inviting them onstage.

What do the others do, then? The rest of the people, those who remain outside this cycle, who live out their days not on this strange stage, but in the real world? Those who seek respect in the right places, such as science, art, compassion, kindness, principles, insight, integrity and added values, i.e., the genuine and worthwhile people, are, in fact, much slower, selective and feeble in setting their own stage, or creating and zealously following their leaders. Increasingly, these people withdraw themselves from the core of the power source, and in general, recede from the stage. What they prioritise, after all, is not power per se, nor the leader himself, or whatever is staged. As these people withdraw, the depraved become arrogant, and the banal becomes a know-it-all.

As though their stepping down from the stage is not enough, some of these genuine and worthwhile people are now devising ways to have their kids step up to that weird stage focused on power. This means that we will witness a generational shift towards the stage for those who venerate and respect power.

This will be one of the most important matters for our children. If these trends and the approach to child-rearing observed among the genuine and worthwhile people continue, our children will find themselves in an even tougher world where they will further isolate themselves; a world filled with those “nourished by and glorifying power,” a world of depraved arrogance and bland and banal haughtiness. The genuine and worthwhile parents are not addicted to power themselves and can point out the depraved and the banal for what they are. But they choose to pull back their children from that alternative front of stage that was set up by those who are susceptible to power, so that “our children will not repeat our mistakes.” These parents proclaim “Let them be the bully, not bullied”; “they should be tough, not pushovers”; “kindness is taken for weakness, it’s better to be a brute.” But the parents would not, in fact, choose to befriend, share a life with or even remotely like these people that they have raised, if they somehow happened to meet them.

More and more parents raise their children to be an arrogant know-it-all and to grasp power by whatever means available. In this landslide of power, encouraging a child to be themselves is deemed risky; thus, people no longer install such values as sharing, thanking, smiling, the importance of self-sufficiency, virtuousness, hard work, showing appreciation or gratitude in their children. Those children are being prepped for their alpha roles, armed with slogans, easy formulas, shortcuts, a concern for outcomes instead of processes, and uncouth tactics of bullying. Meanwhile, those who seek respect, based on the contribution of values, knowledge, labour, art, compassion, kindness, principles, insight and virtue, find themselves confined to certain roles and labels that are actually fabricated by the parents: withdrawn, shy, or loser.

All with nary a thought or care as to who the actual loser is, or what is lost in this erosion that accelerates with every generation, or what other losses and at which pace those societies who have lost these children will, in fact, suffer.

Then how do you fight this? How would you counter this erosion? How do you set an alternative stage and sustain and preserve it?

It’s easy. First, we need to stop merely watching the stage that power admirers are cheering. We have to stop wasting our time gawking at what’s onstage and positioning ourselves accordingly, and instead, give that time to genuine and worthwhile people, the dearest of our friends and families, and most importantly, our children. We have to help them sustain the stage that they set up with the proper and desirable priorities, by bringing our own efforts, essence, love and fun into it. Instead of getting the young people focused on power and frustrating them with labels, we have to embrace them with warmth and hope. In my previous article, I had shared my thoughts on what would be necessary to give the young realistic hope.

The antidote against erosion is sowing seeds and letting the plants take deep roots. That is exactly what we need to do. We must avoid the superficial, the slogans and the shortcuts, and maintain an attitude which upholds substantial knowledge, achievements through hard work and efforts which deliver experience. We have to sow these seeds and let them stretch their roots as deep into these issues as possible.