Sunday, 17 July 2016

Power, greed and superstition

are all part of the problem.
The Senior Cat was wondering what has caused Middle Cat's family, who don't go to church themselves, to do all the traditional Greek Orthodox death, burial and "mind" rituals. We came to the conclusion that they are doing it mostly for the older generation who still firmly believe it is right to do those things  - but there might be a little niggling belief among themselves.
The Greek Orthodox priests I have met here (just four in all) still seem to wield a fair amount of power over their congregations. Perhaps it is different elsewhere but my BIL seems to think that most of the priests still enjoy a position of at least some authority. They get paid extra for all the rituals of death, the six week, six month and year long "mind" ceremonies. They remind the families of the need for these things - and the families do it out  of not just a desire to be seen to do the "right" thing but  because of a certain superstitious  belief that it needs to be done - even though they probably couldn't say what they believe would happen if they don't do it.
I may be wrong but I think that the same sort of thing happened in Turkey yesterday. It is the reason the coup attempt failed. It should not have failed. The "democratically elected" government was in fact not democratically elected at all. The election was riddled with voting irregularities. The previous election had produced unexpected results which simply could not be allowed to stand. The previous results gave too much power - however little it was - to a group which threatens the authority of the President and the power and authority of the Islamic clerics who are beginning to control the country through him.
Turkey still has a secular constitution but there can be no doubt that the clerics want to see this changed. It is why they called people out on to the streets during the uprising. And people obeyed because they were simply too afraid not to obey. This is what they had been told to do and those telling them to do it are people they believe they respect but many of them actually fear.  
Those attempting the coup have probably done more harm than good. They have given Erdogan greater power than before. He can now come down even harder on dissenters. He will be backed by the clerics. Turkey is in even greater danger of losing its secular constitution - something which is already being eroded. 
Power is power for Erdogan and, through him, the clerics. They are greedy for power and the undoubted wealth which comes with it. There are too many in the population who still lack the education to be anything other than superstitious about not obeying their instructions.
It's all a dangerous combination of force and ideas. 
When the Senior Cat asked one of Nephew Cat's cousins  why he didn't go to church  the cousin thought about it for a while and then said, "I think it is because our generation is too well educated."
Nephew Cat agreed. It's not a matter of what they believe or don't believe in a spiritual sense. It's a matter of  not believing in the superstitious practices that  surround their spiritual beliefs - if they have any.  It is those practices and the control they exert which are so very, very dangerous.


Anonymous said...

A powerful and astute summary of the situation. Thank you. Serkan

helen devries said...

Turkish friends living in France think similarly - and fear that Turkey is going backwards in educational terms which puts more power into the hands of the clerics.