I have a birthmark on my arm in the shape of Anatolia. That’s why my parents turned me toward politics when I was a child, joking that it was my mission to solve the problems of Anatolia. The birthmark is still there, and I still love Anatolia so much. Although my sense of responsibility has changed a little in that it covers broader lands, my deep connection with Anatolia remains.
Anatolia was called Little Asia because she has the influence of a continent when you consider her states and empires. The Turkish name, Ana-dolu, demonstrates that she has always been a feminine and matriarchal country. Regardless of the dominant religion and culture, the “wisdom of the Mother Goddess” has always lived in the hearts of the people of Anatolia. They are always compassionate, always warm, and always patient, just like one is in the arms of a mother.
Her place in history and her contributions to civilization are interesting, but what attracts me the most is the land of Anatolia, which has nurtured everyone who has dwelled on it with plentitude, regardless of their beliefs, origins, and whether they are newcomers.
Adam and Eve lived in the area of the Euphrates, and Noah’s Ark was on Mount Ararat. The world’s earliest temple was built on Göbeklitepe (Potbelly Hill) and the patriarch of all the monotheistic religions, Abraham, originated from Edessa. These are all important, but what really matters is Anatolia reeducates every newcomer with her kindness, tolerance, solidarity, and fatalism. She carries society as a whole to a higher level.
My relationship with Anatolia is very different. Firstly, as a recent member of my family, who have been land owners for eleven generations, I am a farmer. I produce the same crops as thousands of years ago, on lands so fertile that trees will grow out of a branch or twig stuck into the ground. In fact, Anatolia is the motherland of agriculture, transforming agricultural products into food, and all the things recommended for a healthy diet.
I also produce raw materials for construction out of Anatolian soil. As a spiritual being with the utmost respect for Mother Earth, and especially for Mother Anatolia, I am working to transform her soil into buildings and temples. This is as it was thousands of years ago in the ancient cities that guided the urban planning of the world’s metropolises, with marvelous temples that inspired major religions.
I am a watchman in my own time for the Anatolian land. I am the current link in the grand chain, and this land is again nurturing my family, my country, and me.
I have another connection to Anatolia. Since I was four or five, I admired the wisdom of the Sufi notables, in circles of which I have been close enough to hear.
At times, I was so hard to control that I could have been leashed. In my head is stored the unique philosophy of this land, which I learned sitting still on my knees for hours.
Then, through an education in a French Catholic school, I was molded by western influences and disciplines, just like Anatolia was in recent centuries. Similar to the Anatolian people, who are surrounded by the methods and systems of the west, I have recognized our own values and experienced an identity crisis.
Later, I acquired a new perspective during a university course teaching the English language. This is when I learned to interpret the world and Anatolia from an American perspective, just like the last 60 years of influence on Anatolia.
When I was studying political sciences for my master’s degree, my thesis was about the transformation of Turkish nationalism from ethnic and cultural nationalism into territorial nationalism and patriotism. My knowledge of the political history of Anatolia, and consequently my admiration for the country, increased significantly. I realized how deeply the people of Anatolia loved their homeland.
Following my master’s, I worked in Ankara as a civil servant: A sought-after career for the educated to administer the uneducated. I developed an understanding of the economic potential of Anatolia. I observed her current politics as a civil servant.
My wife comes from Konya, the homeland of Rumi and the very first Turkish capital in Anatolia. That is why I have the chance to visit Rumi often and wash through my soul.
The city where I live now, İzmir, is the third largest in Turkey and located on the western extreme of Anatolia. It has a 7,000-year history. I am so happy I was born and grew up here, where I could inhale her culture. İzmir is Turkey’s capital of tolerance. It is the place where I fought in the neighborhood gang alongside my Italian Catholic friend, who brought me a present when I was circumcised. It was there I shared my very first secrets with my Turkish Jewish school friend. İzmir is Anatolia’s open door to the west. It is the city of my grandmother—who is descended from the Peloponnese of Greece, the Circassians of the Caucasus, and the natives of Istanbul—and of my grandfather, whose family lived in İzmir for centuries. He has his origins in the Turkmens of Konya.
I see that both my ancestors and the Turkish Nation I belong to have always headed west in their journey from central Asia. They continued marching until they reached the western end of Anatolia. During the Ottoman Empire, they marched even further, but eventually returned to the tender and generous arms of Anatolia. Sometimes during family gatherings, we share a joke saying, “If the new generations want to travel further west, they will have to get past the sea.” Personally, I think because we are living on the world’s most beautiful land, we will not want to go anywhere else. Metaphorical as it may be, the situation is the same with my own philosophical journey. I came from the light of the east, passed Anatolia, and after experiencing the west, returned to this place. It is a center of genuine wisdom right in the middle of the world, and it radiates the warmth of the midday sun.
To me, Anatolia is something I will always carry, like the birthmark on my arm. In the new era to come, she will be a source of light and set an example for those who wish to learn from her plentitude, wisdom, tolerance, and spirit of reconciliation, just as she has for thousands of years.