The Walls Around Peace Have Come Down
This article covers peace.
Today, almost all of us lead our lives in constant haste and anxiety; we drift from one delirious state into another; we experience panic in our enterprises and we shake with the fear at the terrifying surprises that could be awaiting us two steps away. We are unable to produce new ideas; we do not have any serious plans for the future. We move in a strange manner like sleep walkers.
Our responses in the face of unexpected events are nothing but rough reactions. What we are doing—or what we seem to be doing—against the dreadful destructive strategies of the enemies of our society that date back many long years, is no more than a struggle to survive. If only we could have conducted this struggle according to its own rules at least…. I am not willing to confess it, but future generations will probably note our failure even in observing the rules of this struggle.
Consider this fact for instance: decisions concerning matters that will keep our society busy for a lifetime are mostly taken by others. Trying to find a way out of these decisions—taken completely out of our own control—or wondering how we can benefit from moves initiated by others or how we can prevent those moves from being to our disadvantage, we frantically change our state, run from one shelter to another, what we do one day we undo the next, and we waste our lives in an endless cycle of doing and undoing. And, of course, the naïve masses are confused. While some keep losing credit, others keep losing altitude. We are almost pinned down by our lack of judgment, our heedlessness, and ignorance with a force stronger than gravity. Those who hold power are mostly callous and insensitive; masses are running after the sense they lost God knows when; healthy thought is assailed by an oppressive bombardment of disrespect. Mass media organs whose duty is to educate, enlighten, and direct society toward high human ideals are completely heedless. They welcome anything without any sense of responsibility; they keep snarling the very darkest things and playing with people’s honor, dignity, and decency. Every day they come up with yet another new clamor of doom and gloom. By describing and displaying the false temptations of this world, they arouse decadent desires in people with previously pure feelings and thoughts. There are some among them that continually broadcast immorality as if they were programmed to create corruption and disorder; they bypass honor, dignity, and morality for the sake of ratings and do things that make one ashamed of being human.
Society reaches every morning and evening in the shadow of the signs of the apocalypse, almost in expectation of the trumpet blast announcing its arrival. Our peace and tranquility have become naught but a dream. Our collective spirit and thought, which were our main shelter until today, have become twisted and deformed. Our hopes have become more tattered than they have ever been. Our willpower is crazed with a network of cracks. Our determination is totally paralyzed. And as a society we continually pass through delirious states. We have become so detached from our essence that if we were to meet our own spirit round the corner, we might not even recognize it.
We have never been so alienated from our own values in any period of history. We have never left our spirit so hungry, thirsty, and deprived of air. Nowadays, different noises keep coming at us from all sides, but we are unable to hear among them the voice of our spirit that makes us ourselves. We are in such a state of bewilderment, terror, or rather confusion that we are unable to see what we are supposed to be. I think it will not be possible for us to be saved from this deadly chaos until we wash away our mental and spiritual dirt with the clear flow of our own belief and thought.
Surrounded by strange, shrill noises, by shows tempting people to self-alienation, and by nightmarish troubles that stab our hearts, take strength from our helplessness and make our souls lament, we go through shock after shock, writhe in pain, keep swallowing helplessly, and feel our spirit grow more and more corroded every day.
We certainly cannot ignore certain hopeful voices we hear and promising developments we witness from time to time, but in order for these weak voices—whose existence is entrusted to a long term process to ring out like a powerful call—and for these formations to set about a process of flourishing with our inner world, we need people dedicated to service for God, who possess sound hearts, strong character and determination, vigorous souls like noble horses which gallop flat beyond the limits of their strength, and people of insight who show active endurance. In my opinion, thanks to the wholehearted volunteers who possess these qualities, we will be able to free ourselves of the unfortunate troubles which have for years been preventing us from being ourselves by insinuating their way into our feelings and thoughts and tarnishing them. Then, as a whole society, we will be able to regain our own nature, character, and purity of our souls ingrained in true belief in God.
Once, we were one of the purest, clearest, cleanest, and most well-mannered societies of the world; in some periods, we were the highest of all. In every part of society there prevailed a serious love for truth, keenness for research, eagerness for knowledge, an ethics of justice, and a feeling of compassion and mercy, all of which were based on faith and depended on devotion to God for their continuation. Both the individual and society were reflective and mindful of God in every moment of their lives; they would embrace everybody and everything with compassion and accept prime responsibility for the equilibrium in the world as a necessity of being God’s vicegerent. Sometimes, they would shower like rains everywhere, without omitting any place, sometimes they would run like rivers, become life and flow; a day would come when they would boil like the seas and inspire awe all around; and a time would come when they would appear with various hues and fragrances like roses and flowers, filling those who beheld them with delight. There was always a grace and elegance which found its meaning with our society renewing itself with a different flavor, different accent, and different taste, while retaining all the specialties of its essence and evoking heavenly feelings in consciences. The ongoing chaos all over the world and some crude noises rising here and there would change rhythm with the peace and abiding security emanating from their climate, slow down, and virtually fade away with that atmosphere. In this world, where life was always experienced as a melody, even the most unpleasant creaks became inaudible. Silence overwhelmed as if imperatively, a heavenly security, and an air of immense peace pervaded everywhere. So the people of this fortunate land often withdrew to one or two steps behind their dreams and entered a deep otherworldly trance; they lived all past and present times concurrently in that deep blue climate of their faith and their hopes, and rained smiles all around them in appreciation of their own condition.
Occasionally, opposing winds would pierce this silvered atmosphere, discolor this azure nature, and the environment would pale a little. However, thanks to the general atmosphere’s being open to heavenliness, even the fiercest winds would immediately turn to breezes, colors would reflect the spring, and everything would regain its spiritual meaning. In that world, neither constant heedlessness of the divine and the flippancy springing from that, nor constant suffering and crying could be heard. Even if some unpleasant events tore through our peace and serenity from time to time, they did not last long. They would finish as they began, and everything would settle back into place again. Then the atmosphere of our nation and society would return to its wonderful state, it would assume an otherworldly color open to the heavens and to those deserving of heaven. It was such that all the realms of the unseen were sensed almost as if they would appear before the beings and events in the corporeal world and they would whisper such secrets to our souls. And then these magical inspirations would become a depth of our inner world and make us speak in their own accent. As these heartfelt feelings recurred, in time they brought our souls a new perspective befitting our characters, and they knocked at the door of spirituality for us. They did this in such a way that we would sometimes take the place in which we found ourselves to be part of the heavens extended upon the earth, and we would think ourselves inhabitants of that realm of delights.
The secret key to our riches and to the treasuries of divine graces overflowing from our spirit and hearts was our faith, and the secret to its staying ever fresh was our good deeds and sincerity. Believers felt in their hearts the ease brought by these heavenly inspirations and enjoyed the same awe that celestial beings feel.
A flood of light streaming from living up to the belief, the divine scripture, and the religion at this level would almost all the time wave with a magic breaking the power of all these opposite winds; it enwraps us like a divine light showering down from a spiritual decree, and it would affect the sight, hearing, and sensing, and evaluations of our entire soul system. In such cases when we were able to remain open to the levels of the spirit, we would see the world we gaze on as an exhibition of divine art, read the universe and events like a book, see all people honored with the same blessings and all living or non-living beings submitted to us as our friends and companions, and we thought we were in the corridors of Paradise with the deep delight that all of these made us feel.
Then, a day came while we were walking with these blessings, free from every kind of foreboding, we were unexpectedly ambushed by demons. They poured acid on our hearts and made our horizons murky. They unsighted us and deprived us of the exhibition we had been viewing and the book we had been reading. They stole our sun and darkened the face of our moon, cut the bonds of our stars and made them all fly into the abyss, and they made our bright world dark by spreading pitch on the face of everything.
In that period, our carnal self ascended to the throne of the soul. Our hearts were mortgaged to the devil. Monuments of fancy replaced our Creator. Dignity and morality were stamped underfoot. Feelings of shame and innocence gave way to indecency. Disrespect became the most common thing. Everywhere turned into a fair of filth and ugliness. Manners and grace were presented as worthless relics from the past. They first made souls forget faithfulness, loyalty, and devotion to values; and then these were erased from the dictionary.
All those previous orchards and gardens were destroyed, roses and flowers went into mourning, all around began turning into desert again. Thorny plants grew where once hyacinths were. Nightingales hushed, and it was the time of crows. As snakes and creeping things moved around freely, doves were confined to cages.
It was at this period when everything was at its nadir that public-spirited people began feel palpitations in their hearts, high-spirited ones became even more anxious, and the suffering of the heedful turned to agony…. This situation evoked in almost everybody a wish to journey toward being themselves. And these were the signs auguring the end of the hiatus that had lasted several centuries and the end of the idle stumbling.
Nowadays, there is zeal in a great many souls, and hearts have the desire to seek; in every valley there is a drove of thinkers with flurries of thoughts… in every region there is almost a celebration of birth. After that dreadful fall and that chilling, centuries-long silence, the time must have come for us to say something to the world, since we have had much to tell, and the season to tell it has arrived.
So the decline of several centuries that we have left behind has aroused such zeal in public-spirited souls that I think that even if our present situation had been much worse, the lesson we have learned would still be enough to make us rise and come to ourselves again, and this is at the same time a good source of motivation. We could say that the many long years of inertia and weariness are vacating their place to be replaced by an ardor for activity. The continual waves of negative events and successive hindrances that we have been undergoing have been more or less causing us to rediscover ourselves. So much so that rather than the present time, we have come to talk about the near or distant future and to live with dreams of tomorrow. We have begun to receive glimpses from the things that some people had always aspired to attain but failed to do so, inspiring us with the possibility of a true dawn, and this was awakening us to a new morning. Maybe the sun had not risen yet, but it was clear that the horizon was heralding daybreak.
We lost yesterday, but tomorrow is still before us. Now it is time to concentrate on the future with complete metaphysical tension and wait for the new gift that time has in its womb. In my opinion, those who failed to make good use of yesterday are not to be considered losers, given that the agony of what they have lost have recovered them and they have prepared for the morrow. We will wait and see what the night still has to offer before the sunrise!
By M. Fethullah Gulen