Happiness is Winging It On A Prayer

Hurriyet conducted an interview with the well-respected scholar Ersin Kalaycıoğlu about a new survey he conducted about health for the International Social Survey Program (ISSP) with Professor Ali Çarkoğlu. The survey discussed people’s attitudes toward health and health care, but also touched on a number of other issues. Some of his comments are quite thought-provoking. (click here) Some excerpts from the interview:

…We have a nation that is fond of the pleasures of life. Essentially, it says to the state, “I won’t change, you take the necessary measures and provide the necessary medical help.” It tells the state “I will continue to smoke and you have to take care of me, this is my right.”

Maybe that’s why Turks are happy given that the findings show such an outcome

This is not the only reason. All findings in the world suggest that the level of happiness increases as religiosity increases. But we can never reduce an outcome to one factor.

Turks like to live as it suits them. I don’t call this freedom. This is about boundless, arbitrary irresponsible behavior. [For example,] a guy takes a curve in the road at 150 km/h and gets killed; if he doesn’t die, this means he lives as he wants and brags about how he crashed the car. There is such a lifestyle. This is “anomie,” the concept invented by French thinker Émile Durkheim.

But what you say seems to contradict the general conviction that Turkish society has an authoritarian character. Aren’t Turks known to respect and be obedient toward the state?

Turkish society is not obedient to the state, it is very good at avoiding the state as much as possible with whatever measures of avoidance it can deploy, including bribery and corruption. They take the state very seriously, and they don’t challenge the state; instead, they act as if they are going along with the state, but they simply ignore it. You present a nice, politically correct face to the state, but behind it, you have a second life of your own which has no rules or restrictions.

One would think that religiously conservative people would not lead the anomie type of life you describe.

I am not so sure about that. Religious conservatism has a lot to do with the definition of religion, which is not necessarily anything that goes much beyond worship. You worship, so you are religious. Once you worship, you can do whatever you want: That’s the major perception of the people. Religiosity in Turkey is reduced to worship. The philosophical, theological and moral aspects of religion are most likely not internalized by a huge majority of the population. It is more or less [analogous] to pre-Reformation Europe…

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