In American novelist Thomas Wolfe’s (1900-1938) posthumously published novel, You Can’t Go Home Again, he revealed that he thought living in the past was not a good idea. “His books, written during the Great Depression show an almost obsessive interest in the self [identity], particularly of the self within the context [worldview] of the family and community.” (1) In this essay we again focus on identity but this time, not on the identity of the individual, but collective identities such as the family, tribes, religious communities and nations.
Our example will be the nation of Turkey and how President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is redefining the collective identity of the Turkish people. His model is not how to continue to modernize Turkey but rather how to lead the Turkish people backward 400 years into the glory days of an imagined past. “Erdogan often speaks of ancient battles won by the Ottomans, and he keeps putting up all those 16th-century-style mosques in tribute to a period when they ruled the greatest empire on earth.” (2) His goal seems to be to shift the collective identity of the Turkish people from less secular to more religious. “A profusion of new mosques in Turkey—many of them over-the-top evocations of 16th century Imperial Ottoman glory—has become a physical manifestation of Recep Tayip Erdogan’s rise.” (2) Between 2006 and 2009, 9000 new mosques have been built in Turkey. This change in identity is a major change in direction from the identity Turkey began in the late 19th century.
Turkish President Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1881-1938) had a vision to bring Turkey into the 20th century. Ataturk’s reforms were a series of political, legal, religious, cultural, social and economic policy changes to transform the Republic of Turkey into a modern, secular, Westernized nation-state. Turkey entered the European Union in 1987.
Beware of the super-patriot, the nationalist leaders who want to lead their nations to an imagined past or future which never existed. Whether the American president wants to “make American great again” or the Turkish president wants to recreate the glory of the Ottoman Empire, they will find that impossible. Reality occurs only in the present moment. All nation states will have to transcend the illusion created by their respective collective false selves. In seeking so-called glory and greatness they destroy the possibility of creating a sustainable human community. No individual, no nation can go home again but the experience of a perfect Creation in the NOW is available to anyone who wants to choose it.
Insight # 3: In creating consciousness in an individual or a nation-state there are a few simple principles that must be adhered to. Ignorance of these fundamental truths can only lead to chaos and suffering.
- Creation in ABC Book
- Hansen Suzy. “The Second Conquest.” The New York Times Magazine. June 18, 2017, pages 46 & 50.