Lead Article

  • Issue 112 / July - August 2016



    Despair and Heroes

    M. Fethullah Gulen

    Much as it is in the rest of today’s world, depression and crises are interwoven into our society: crisis of belief, crisis of thought, crisis of criteria, crisis of the system, crisis of ethics, crisis of family, crisis of administration, crisis of regime, etc. We face a variety of crises from different levels, each one profound enough to single-handedly shake even the most powerful of states.  These crises, mild enough to be easily overcome at times and strong enough to bring about new crises at others, could possibly be the biggest problem that threatens the people of today and tomorrow.  Administrators, sociologists, educators, and theologians must put their heads together and search for ways to overcome these crises.


    The etymology of these crises that encompass our people and our world like an incubus reaches to the post-Renaissance period of the West, in which spiritual values were mocked in derision, the past was condescended, and the metaphysical was chased away from houses of knowledge. Carnal desires were idolized, self-interest and egos were motivated, the soul was sacrificed for the body, the heart for the throat, and thought for demagoguery, and humans were turned into material beings.  These were not the vices of the Renaissance itself; rather, they came about through its misuse and and the misuse of every independent thought that were born out of it. As such, the masses were, day in and day out, turned into ego-centered heaps devoid of any scope. They  were oriented towards mere the material comfort of the physical world and strayed away from  spiritual and humanistic values.  Such a schism means disconnecting a person from their very essence. This is a break that causes a person to become a mess of problems.


    Because of all this, nations are in twists and turns. Individuals and families are tangled in a web of disintegration; democratic "mass organizations" are helpless and panicked. Important measures are overturned. At the epicenter of these terrifying tremors, families and their youth are miserable, their beliefs and ethics damaged. Many people’s hopes have been consumed by malediction. Others are driven solely by corruption, and the desire to defame and darken the hopes of the faithful.

    In this environment, evil is free to roam about.  Society is bent double and is hemorrhaging blood.  Those who are in a position to give directions are lost in a state of indolence.


    Hearts are merciless, emotions are ragged, desires are servile.

    The meaning that flows from gazes is full of contempt for the servants of God. (Mehmet Akif)


    While society waits for competent hands to offer solutions to its problems, these problems and hardships are being used by certain groups to attain certain things and to reach certain positions; they are used to defame and dispose of groups not wanted by those in power. A great deal of national suffering is being used for political gain.  Beside all these, it can be said that there are certain positive efforts being made; however, they are limited to the individual strivings of a small group of intellectuals alongside the passive reaction of a few others.  On the other hand, a great majority of people expect everything from the hands of the government or are indulged in the wishful thinking that everything will be sorted out by an amazing hand of favor.


    In reality, however, alongside the government and rulers, many responsibilities fall upon volunteer organizations and, in fact, upon every single individual. In this regard, fighting against ignorance, challenging certain wrongs through education, enlightening thought through modern science and knowledge, and enabling souls to connect with God by representing and suggesting the truth of religion in its originality are the vital points that must be focused on to remedy all of our social ills. Presently, the general situation is bound for an immediate movement of spiritual reconstruction and development.


    Harvesting the fruit of such a blessed movement will always be possible to the extent that the elite, the distinguished intellectuals ‚Äď ¬†the learned and prominent figures of society ‚Äď help and support its advance. This movement of distinguished individuals, directed completely towards values of faith, society, and ethics, will certainly reach its goal, one day or the other, and our society will break free from despair.


    It all comes down to our intellectuals taking advantage of every means, from education to media, to infuse the fabric of our society with our essential spiritual and historical values. Indeed, it will be enough for those architects of thought, who will reconstruct our future, to channel our material and machine-locked worlds a little towards spiritual life, and the metaphysical and spiritual values contained therein. True suffering is being starved for these values, and until this hunger is sated, it will be impossible to truly become satisfied. That is why, if the individual is not fed with the truth that comes about from their nature and their past, he or she will continue with negative pursuits and will search for solutions in the least possible places, delve into legends and superstitions, and, all the while, everything that he or she encounters will increase their despair.


    It is in this sense that, as a society, we must not give way to excessive materialism, the domination of materialistic thought over our people, the erosion of the truth of religion, or the elimination of our cultural traditions.  While we must, on one hand, stand firm and serious about this matter, we must also, on the other hand, always keep our interpersonal relations alive; starting from within, and expanding it to the whole world, we must always take deep breaths of tolerance and call others to dialogue. We must accept differences with forbearance, respect every thought and idea, concentrate on education, and must not draw back from any self-sacrifice in this cause. Not only that, we must, once more, look over the sources which nurture our system of thought, and, by reinterpreting our times, over and over, through the spectrums of reason, experience, and revelation, we must construct a new society that is open to advancement, a society that is a believer in knowledge and wisdom, and full of respect for the conscience.


    Such a vital formation is, of course, going to be in need of certain heroes, heroes that are civilized and precious enough to be able to act selflessly for the sake of the cause they believe in. Every change and transformation is like stepping from one sphere onto another, like jumping over an insurmountable precipice, and such an attempt can certainly not be without danger. Even the smallest and ordinary attempts carry certain risks, let alone the risks associated with efforts of  great measure. After all, we did not come to this world to realize and live out our own bliss. If we do bear such intentions, we must certainly break free of it; in order to be able to promise bliss to those around us, especially the future generations, we must say "farewell!" to the personal pleasure of life and must awaken in ourselves a love of keeping others alive. This is the most sacred purpose of our existence. We are indebted, even if only a little, to those who came and went before us, the heroic representatives of God's good favor and grace, who jumped into danger time and time again in order to build such a world for us. We are indebted for the values, assets, and things which we hold sacred and cherish today. And, naturally, it is our obligation to take all the values we have been handed from those before us and, as trustworthy human beings true to their trust, pass them on to those who will come after us, even if it means at the expense of our own lives.


    Every civilization, to this day, has been the work of a couple dozen heroes. And, henceforward, it will always be so. Our world today, broken apart by various storms and diseases, will reach the old rose-colored days, the full-mooned nights, the future that effervesces with clouds of love where revivals will take place one after another; it will all be reached by the virtue of such heroes.


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