This is my first and last column about myself. Of course I will talk about my own life experiences, the things that have been said to me, the things I read, the things I learned. What else could a newspaper column be about? But some authors who continually talk about themselves remind me of an empty drum.
I have been contributing to Daily Sabah for some time on an irregular basis. Now I will try to fill this column on a regular weekly basis. Please indulge me just this once.
I belong to the 68 generation who never knew exactly what they yearned for. I could have easily perished in one of the city wars. With the help of the famous novelist Yaşar Kemal (of "Memet My Hawk" fame), I found myself in front of Oktay Ekşi, the Ankara bureau chief of Hürriyet. "Young man," he said, "You are now becoming a journalist, so you will leave your own ideology with your hat on the rack at the entrance."
That was the rule I have been religiously following ever since. When I was learning how to put together an issues-oriented watchdog newspaper at Hürriyet or managing an ideologically oriented conservative opinion newspaper at Tercüman, I always checked my own motives in the cloakroom before entering the newsroom.
I am not young anymore. I worked for the Ulus, Hürriyet, Tercüman and Güneş newspapers before going to the United States to work for the VOA. I worked in both the broadcasting and online sections for quite some time. In addition to news writing, I put under my belt more skills in radio broadcasting, television reporting, audio-video editing, computer programming and user experience design for online publication. I witnessed the internet revolution from within.
I have a strong belief in destiny, that destiny made me write news stories as well as program code. It was my fate to meet the late former President Turgut Özal when he was formulating the legislation on freeing state-owned radio and television broadcasts. I believe I have served my profession and the country well. A few years ago, my wife and I returned to Turkey after about three decades in the United States. My intention was to teach what I know to young journalism students and catch fish on the Bosporus.
What was written in my destiny was quite different.
On July 15, like everyone else, I experienced emotions one usually undergoes once in a lifetime in one long night - from fear to anger, from sorrow to elation, from despair to violation. After that fateful night, I am left with a raging wrath enveloped with endless gratefulness.
We had martyrs that night, our beloveds were wounded. The loss of one of these martyrs has been burning my heart since. It always will. If that baleful week of July had ended as it started, my martyred friend, some other colleagues and I would get together and discuss a new curriculum for computer-aided remote learning technologies. We couldn't.
July 15 may mean different things to different people. For me, the democratic victory we embraced the next morning means that we as a people had passed an existential test. This obliges me and everyone else to contribute whatever I have compiled all those years to the ongoing public discussion in an analytically and synthetically meaningful way.
We need that discussion more than ever. No trauma can be overcome without talking. I will be content if this column is perceived doing that.
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