Well it has been two years since I was elected President of the Atatürk Society, and while I am excited by what we accomplished, and I am even more excited about how much more the Atatürk Society can do with your continued support. At the beginning of my term, I had stated that we were limited in what we could do by our resources, and yet for each challenge we faced, our supporters time and time again helped us reach our goals. On behalf of the Board of Directors and the Board of Trustees, I thank you.
During these past two years I have also witnessed an extreme polarization in the debates as to the direction of the Republic of Turkey, a democratic nation built on Atatürk’s principles eighty-four years ago, and to the preservation of Atatürk’s principles. While I expect and encourage the debates to continue, I would like to share two observations that I believe must be remembered. The first is that we, as the children of Atatürk, must honor his charge and his legacy. I remind you of his charge:
“There are two Mustafa Kemals. One the flesh-and-blood Mustafa Kemal who now stands before you and who will pass away. The other is you, all of you here who will go to the far corners of our land to spread the ideals which must be defended with your lives if necessary. I stand for the nation’s dreams, and my life’s work is to make them come true.”
The second is that we must never confuse democracy with politics. Democracy simply defined means “governed by the people.” Inclusive in this definition is the concept of open, fair, and free elections. Within the framework of American democracy this also includes the freedom of the press, the right to petition and demand redress, and the right to due process. The goal of democracy is to establish the rule of law, or to accept each person’s right to be treated “equally before the law.” Politics on the other hand is the dynamic of social relations and interactions involving individuals in ascertaining and maintianing the authority or power to devise methods and tactics to formulate and create social policy. Democracy is static, Politics is dynamic. Democracy is an institution, Politics is ephemeral. Simply put, democracy is the road, and politics is the vehicle.
As you all know, the Atatürk Society is an organization dedicated to promoting Atatürk’s principles. My goal is that we will continue our efforts to educate the world about Atatürk’s vision of promoting stable democracies, and we will refrain from involvement in the politics of the day. So, I ask you as you join in the debates, be mindful of the conversation. If it is the roads that are being debated; do not yield, do not falter, remember Atatürk’s charge and protect our future, for without sound roads we can not move forward. If it is the vehicles that are being debated; be guarded and cautious, but realize that it is the road that matters, for without roads vehicles can not travel.
It is my personal opinion that the most effective way to promote Atatürk’s vision is to work to empower the individual. I also believe that the most effective way to empower an individual is to provide economic security. Our efforts on behalf of the Mehmetciks this year is a beginning. With the national movement that we helped start this past September, many Turkish organizations in America have made bringing economic security to the Mehmetciks a reality. The Atatürk Society, with the help of ATA-DC and our members, has raised over $10,000.00 for our Mehmetcik Fund. That money is being matched dollar for dollar by the Turkish Coalition of America. My goal for the coming year is to first finally upgrade our webpage and make it an interactive medium to promote our work. My second goal is to work with other organizations in the United States and abroad to empower women and to bring economic security to the people in the smallest of communities in Turkey and elsewhere. By bringing economic security, we can promote education, science, democracy, and ultimately world peace.
Before I close, I want to publicly thank my fantastic Board of Directors, and those that have really made a difference in my presidency. Mirat Yavalar, our Treasurer, is the backbone of this organization, and somehow always makes the impossible possible. Filiz Odabas-Geldiay, our Vice-President, is always profound in her thoughts, and magically turns the essence of my ideas into actionable realities. Ilknur Boray, our Secretary, is an angel, and somehow always gets it right or makes it right. Bulent Atalay, our member at large, is a man larger than life, and is as much an inspiration to me as DaVinci is to him. Finally, I thank Hudai Yavalar, our founder, who always reminds me of what matters most-promoting Atatürk’s vision for world peace. I also want to thank Sitki Kazanci, for designing this publication; William Alli, for valuing what really matters; Kenan Aylangan, for being a benchmark of what every Turkish parent should be, and for his May 19th gift to us (who I also thank), and finally I thank Ambassador Nabi Sensoy and Gülgün Hanim for going the extra mile (sometimes 5423 miles) to make things happen.
I look forward to your continued support, and I thank you for helping us continue our work in promoting Atatürk and his vision to help establish world peace. Finally, I also ask that you share this magazine with as many friends as you can, and ask them to join us as members in our mission.
With sincerest gratitude, Timur Edib