An (Absurd) Hypothesis on Gender Equality

I have written before that I stand by Yanındayız. As we pay attention to and work on diversity, inclusion, equality and especially gender equality, every stimulus from human perception to reactions becomes thought-provoking. I think we are moving towards becoming an exponentially growing in numbers. So, what is it that we think, what is our concern? Above all, why? Furthermore, how is it that men are at the forefront of this cause, caring about diversity and inclusion, showing their presence for gender equality, raising their voices, courageously saying we stand with women? What is the motivation? In two words, to create a win-win! But it goes deeper than that.


On January 19th, in a special session for Yanındayız (We Stand With You) members, I met Robert Baker, an expert on inclusion, leadership, gender equality, equal representation, etc. Robert is a man who believes that women and men will change the world together and he is an expert on these issues. And, yes, I absolutely agree with Robert that only when men and women work together will our world change. As for why, I’ll share a hypothesis I’ve been thinking about for a couple of years now, and I’ll link it to a few points I took from Robert’s presentation.


My hypothesis may sound a bit absurd. However, I don’t have the facts to prove it; I have a feeling, intuition, and observation of the stage of human development. Let me start by asking you… Do you think that gender inequality has always existed throughout human history? Is it possible that at some time centuries ago there was equality, and something happened to break it down? Is it possible that human nature, like other species, came with equal characteristics, but that there was a division of roles between them? Could it be that one has sacrificed its own characteristics, skills, power and status for the development, elevation, and transformation of the other? Could be?


We know that centuries ago, men and women were born with equal physical and mental strength, competence, and skills in the most archaic cave-like Homosapien state; one was neither superior nor stronger than the other; they had equal emotional and social abilities. For example, Spartan* women had the right to fight alongside men, to undergo military training, to own land, and to vote. Despite all, men and women were created with a difference that would disrupt equality: biologically, Mother Nature endowed one with sperm and the other with a uterus for reproduction and multiplication. In other words, she assigned the role of provider to one and nurturer to the other. And that’s probably what happened… I’m not talking about the superiority that the man acquired, appropriated, and ultimately claimed for himself through his role as provider, which he did over time. On the contrary, I want to emphasize the woman’s support to the man in developing, strengthening, and “specializing” in her role as provider through her nurturing (action) and nurturing role (being). This is where my hypothesis comes into play…



My hypothesis is this: Could it be that, at some point centuries ago, women made a kind of “development pact” with men and unanimously chose to hand over sovereignty to men? Could it be that they risked giving up their equal weight in social sovereignty with the motive of being a facilitator in the development, rise and all-round empowerment of men?  Could it be that they chose to do this of their own free will and consciousness, and that they did it selflessly, aware of what might happen to in the future? In an age when we still have not solved the Pyramids of Egypt or the Ziggurats of Mexico, we will not be able to solve the reality of these questions. However, if there were not a few elements that would make me believe these things, believe me, I would say to myself, “Shirli, you are talking nonsense”…


Women are known for their ability to multitask (multitasking), to pay attention to many issues (multifocusing) and to have the ability to see far enough ahead (envisioning), to sense the future before certain events have even happened. Therefore, she acts with the mission of giving from her essence, with love and compassion, to every member of society, whether that’d be child or adult, in line with their needs. The role of women in society is an example of a servant leader who is selfless and self-sacrificing. Regardless of the social identity she appears in – be it mother, aunt, sister; or teacher, senior manager, doctor, pilot, firefighter, politician – isn’t she always focused on development, protection and serving the need with her stance and actions?


The woman is the founder of society; in other words, she is the one who shapes the structure of society. She is the one who raises the man; she is also the one who supports his strength and power, that is, his sovereignty. Could it not be that the man has forgotten the development agreement they made with the woman in the archaic period and, intoxicated with power, has become even more ambitious to dominate with even more power; while the woman, with her philosophy of “do good and throw it into the sea” – that is, keep it for herself – has also forgotten the agreement and has chosen to live under the dominance of the man; as a result, the man and the woman have completely deviated from the Human 1.0 version and values and have become what they are today?


A woman is a woman who acts on her values, stands up for her values, and has the emotional, social and mental skills to transform the world from top to bottom. Have you ever wondered why she has never tried to take her sovereignty away from men? Is it because she is powerless, because she cannot unite and collaborate, or because she is waiting for men to reach that level of consciousness and stand by her side for the higher consciousness that “women and men will transform the world together”? I think the time has come; the higher consciousness has taken action. The name of the movement is the movement for equality, diversity and inclusion that has existed in recent years. It is much more than feminism, it is men standing alongside women with the same initiative, values, and beliefs to defend equality. Today this movement is manifested by men standing with women or those who are subjected to gender inequality; tomorrow it will take the form of men and women standing together against all forms of inequality. This will bring women step by step closer to their desire to bring prosperity, goodness, unity, and love to all segments of society.


I don’t know if my hypothesis seems absurd to you… Maybe I’m overthinking and questioning… I’m open to your ideas. As promised, let me close with an excerpt from Robert Baker’s presentation. Robert shared the reasons why men are and are not part of this movement, the gains when they are, and the stages of becoming allies in equality. He started with Gloria Steinem’s words: “Once men realize that gender roles are a prison for them too, they become really valuable allies. Because they’re not just helping someone else, they’re freeing themselves.” Robert shared that men involved in the movement for gender equality are liberated because they are able to share the provider role with women and are freed from the obligation to always be strong, capable, firm – the Alpha Male. Moreover, he shared that it allowed them to regain some of their emotional and social skills -skills such as self-concept, humility, intuition, care, vulnerability, empathy, vision, and collaboration, that had been dying out by the intoxication of power. Most importantly, he revealed where people are in the gender equality movement and how they show attitudes and behaviors across a four-tiered spectrum. Unfortunately, large segments of Turkish society are at the first step of the spectrum: they are unaware of the need for gender equality.  The second step of the spectrum is being aware of the need and leaning in; the third is being an advocate and supporter of equality; and the final step is actively leading for equality and being a change agent.


So, where do you think you stand on the spectrum of gender equality?


Robert shared so much more in almost two hours… It is impossible to fit it all here. If you are very curious, join us, stand with Yanındayız in the movement for gender equality, diversity, and inclusion. I promise, we are here to meet your curiosity, including a one-on-one meeting with Robert Baker, if you wish.


That’s all from me for now…

Shirli from Barcelona.

January 21, 2023

Standing With and Beside You!

New year means new beginnings. The new year is not only important for new initiatives, decisions, breakthroughs, and collaborations, but also for maintaining our works, collaborations and investments started in the past years. I have done a lot of crazy, at the same time “smart work” (that is what I would call) in the past years. I have made investments especially for social and human benefit, where I’ve carried out voluntary mentoring and coaching activities in various non-governmental organizations, whose target audience was mostly young people. Currently, again through mentoring and coaching, I am supporting young girls, although they do not have the same conditions and opportunities as their counterparts, with their empowerment and starting off life, through helping them shape their individual characteristics, competencies, and self-perceptions.


I think, as a woman who has managed to stand on her feet, living by her own choices with full self-confidence and belief, standing beside young individuals (not just women, but all) at their early stages of life, role modelling and being of guidance are probably my purpose of life. Indeed, I’ve been doing so since I started teaching, and I shall continue, because “once a teacher, always a teacher”. Acting with this motto and my roles as an academician, trainer, mentor, and coach, I am a guide, a mentor, an awareness raiser, and a channel for anyone who wants to access to knowledge and wisdom. To this end, I’ve always looked and sought for opportunities where I can actively participate and dedicate myself to and be a part of civil society movements that are align with my values, meaning and goals. I’ve collaborated as a volunteer, with numerous NGOs, I still doing so. Now, along with the first days of 2023, I am happy and proud to be part of another organisation – that is, Yanındayız Association*.


Within the framework of universal human rights perspective, Yanındayız (means ‘we are with you; beside you’ in Turkish) is an association that defends gender equality in Turkey, opposes gender-based discrimination, fights against all kinds of obstacles and prejudices, and ignites the movement that will lead to transformation and awareness in laws, institutions and social life; and most importantly, it is an association that continues this mitigation with the active participation of a crew of volunteering men. On January 3rd, 2023, I became a member of the Yanındayız, as a woman who not stands for with women and women’s rights, but also is beside and with every individual who has been exposed to gender inequality and discrimination. At the application form, where I’ve been asked the reason to become a member, I wrote “I want to be a member of Yanındayız, because…” as the following:


They say past is the mirror of future; I look at the present, because today’s conditions, actions, thoughts, and perspectives build the future and the realities that will befall our future generations. We will reap whatever we sow today and leave them to the future generations. I have worked with young people and young adults (approximately of 16-26 ages) throughout my professional life; I dedicated my efforts to their education, development, and empowerment in every sense, and I still doing so. I see them as our light of hop, in darkness. So, we have the duty to be a role model and a leader, so that every individual can have access to equal rights and opportunities, regardless of their gender, age, social status or position.

There is this famous illustration, depicting the distinction between equality and equity. As I see the reality of today’s equality, rights, justice, equity, etc., my hope is shattering, I lose sleep, and feelings of anger and violence rise in me. All I know is that ‘he who gets up in anger, sits down with a loss.’ If we wish to build equality, equity, and justice of all kinds for all, we should be co-creating through being in unity of goals, of thoughts, of effort and of labor, for mutual vision. Hereby, I want to be part of such a union and co-creation. I know, I cannot throw starfish into the sea all on my own, however being a part of an organisation, whose values meet my values, perspectives are aligned to my perspective, and its way of standing for equality is in harmony to mine, will add strength to my cause. Likewise, I believe that this I will add strength to the union with the knowledge, skills, and effort I possess. For these reasons, I want to be member of YANINDAYIZ.


It is not easy to express intention and motivation in a such short space. On November 17th, 2021, I shared my perspective on gender inequality in my article titled The Last Duel. I talked about the status of women in the male-dominated society, the perception of masculinity and the loss of freedom for the sake of the desire to protect their sovereignty, and the need for women and men to work together for gender equality. More than a year has passed, I can clearly see that the most important condition for social development and welfare is, within a universal human rights perspective, to offer everyone the equal, fair, and just treatment they deserve, rather than positive discrimination against any part of the society. Moreover, it is to remember and remind that each and every one of us is “human” (no matter the age) without discriminating as male or female, or child, adult and elder!

Having said it all, that I am standing with and beside equality and the NGO Yanındayız, I’d like to announce that on April 5th, 2023, Yanındayız will hold the third #kadınerkekeşittirnokta (meaning ‘women and men are equal, full stop’ in Turkish) Conference. In this special year, in which we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Turkish Republic, starting with gender equality, we hope to have many coming years, achieving equality in every sense and in every field, and finally saying “Long Live the Republic! Long Live Equality!”


Shirli from Barcelona.

January 8th, 2023


*Yanındayız Association-

Values of the Association: “We adopt an active, consistent, transparent, and accountable understanding of peaceful struggle based on mutual trust and respect that envisages project and practices that we will be proud to take part in and is open to communication, participation, and cooperation.” (Yanındayız Association, 2021)


Translator: Handegül Demirhan


I Need You!

We live in such a world that power and success are directly related to one’s ability to self-sufficiency. From an early age, we are forced to live without being a burden to anyone, expecting help from anyone, asking for support or even being in need of help. We are gradually becoming a society that is moving towards individualization and away from the perception of collective value. What if, just a little bit, we express our weakness, not too much, but we say “I need you” for a pair of hands and get external support? What would happen? I suppose “Not much!” you’ll say…  No! A lot can happen! So many things beyond your prediction may happen. Let me explain…


I’ll start with a very absurd question. Are you ticklish? You know, the feeling of startle you experience when someone you know comes up to you and runs his fingers around your ribs or soles of your feet… An absolute joy that ends with the burst of involuntary laughter. There are many in our family who are ticklish but some are not at all – my father and I (those wondering why may contact me in private). But what happens when you try to tickle yourself, are you equally affected or startled, or do you just feel your fingers running on your feet? You must try it to respond. As you’re experimenting, I’ll move on with a the less absurd example. What’s the first thing you do when you have a headache? You try to massage yourself and relieve your pain by rubbing your temples, eye sockets and your neck with your hands, right? And what kind of results do you get? Although it is a little lighter, the pressure you apply with your fingers barely affect your pain and yet you don’t even experience the feeling of the power you apply. Why? Because just as we cannot tickle ourselves, we cannot create energy changes in our system with our own massage. We need someone else’s hands, fingers and touch in order to shift the energy hold.


Well, let’s go back to the beginning… To the question “What if we get external support?”. That’s when the real change, transformation and healing happens. The transformation happens not only physiologically, but also spiritually and mentally. If the proverb “One hand washes the other and together they wash the face” is not sufficient, maybe the following African proverb will be convincing: “If you want to walk fast, walk alone; but if you want walk far, walk together.” If you know the systems theory*, it’s easier to understand. We are part of a network made of intertwined and interwoven bonds; we are not separated, but parts of a whole that moves together. We are social beings that act upon an open system, not on a closed-circuit system. We feel the need of being in constant interaction, contact and cooperation. Isn’t our simplest indicator of acquisition our earnings compared to our competitors? I believe that when you first started reading these lines you didn’t guess you would definitely need an opponent, if not a partner, and even say “I need you” to your very opponent. It’s funny, but very true!

So what else is going on? We were born naked and we return to the ground naked. Have you ever wondered why? In some way, nudity represents a kind of nothingness, loneliness, solitude. Everything happens in between; we are wrapped around the moment we are born, people gather around us and we are surrounded until we die. In other words, we are surrounded by people who will respond to the calling of “I need you”; we become stronger, more confident, happier and more giving individuals by feeling ourselves as a whole, not alone. In this way, we become sensitive people who not only think about their personal interests and future, also about the social benefit, intend for it and act upon it. When we cannot say “I need you”, we become insensitive and selfish societies that struggle to tickle themselves, lack joy and are left alone with their nakedness.


I agree… It’s not so easy to say, “I need you.” Without knowing whether my cry for help will ever be answered, there is also a fear of being stabbed in the back instead of a helping hand in response to showing my weakness! Unfortunately, the dominant emotion that I observe in our society, which is increasing steadily, is fear, anxiety and control rather than love, trust and solidarity. You might ask, what is the life style based on fear and love, how can it differ anyway; let it be left to my next article with its examples… However, as a matter of fact, I write all my writings inspired by the source of love and I incorporate my heart, my body and soul in to bring these lines to you, my beloved reader. And I need you as my audience so that you can read each line and receive my messages!


Sincerely from Barcelona.

December 18th, 2022


*Systems theory:


Why Writers Write?

As can be understood from the title of the article, one of the questions I ask myself is the role of the writership, the purpose of its existence and, in the deepest, the motivation that drives someone to write. Anyone who knows me knows that I constantly ask questions and often ask ‘why?’ rather than asking other questions. I am more interested in the origin of an event or phenomenon, rather than how it happens or its characters, for the fact that every cause has an effect and at the same time; while also the direction, course, and style of the event, together with the effect it creates, produce different results. Here this time, my question is about writership… Why a writer writes? There is no doubt, everyone, regardless of their profession, has different motivations and expectations. Looking out at this question from my own window, I asked to myself: ‘Me Shirli, as a writer, why am I writing?’ Here, I sought an answer and put my inner voice into words.


First, I would like to start with the question, ‘Am I a writer?’ Does writing essays and articles on different platforms and/or having a printed book make me a writer? Does having a fixed or random audience make me a writer? Does it make me a writer if I have a story, message, knowledge, or idea to tell and put it together in words? Or does it make me a writer if I love to write, and write with the mindset of ‘every product has a buyer; therefore, every article has a reader, and anyone who wants to read will just read’ and that if I write with the freedom of joy that comes from opening and spreading out my inner world? Well, I think it does!


With this question I got taken to ancient times and to the way professions were attributed in those societies. Professional identities were attributed to the person directly related to what they did, and by being accepted by the society. For example, in the ancient Greek Civilization, important members of the upper class gathered in the Agora to develop, research, and share their thoughts, that is, they would philosophise. Today we give the title of ‘philosopher’ to these great thinkers. Nevertheless, to be a philosopher today, it is necessary to go through various training and accreditation processes. In their own time, great thinkers became philosophers based on their knowledge, skills, intellect, analysis and synthesis skills, and their passion for generating and developing ideas, without being subject to any document or acceptance criterion such as diplomas, certificates, and accreditations. As a result, these people became philosophers by doing what a philosopher would do.


If you are a curious person like me, you may be wondering why I ask a question within a question. In other words, why do I derive the question ‘who is the writer?’ from the question ‘why a writer writes? My intention is not to create confusion, but to reveal a phenomenon in this way. It is to emphasise that our motives that direct our lives and motivate us, depend on two important concepts; moreover, to emphasise that our existence depends on their relationship, balance, and cooperation. These two concepts are being and doing. What does a writer do? S/he writes. To be a writer, it is enough to write, publish, have an audience, and be accepted by the society. There is such a dialogic between being and doing that they support and cultivate one another. One creates herself/himself as a writer by her/his actions, deeds, and products; and this identity s/he created pushes her/him to act and produce. In an eternal relationship, they continue to carry and support each other, without breaking from an infinite (∞) cycle. So, where is the question ‘why’; or, what is the motivation behind this?


There is a motivation behind every existence and action. Since action structures one’s existence, one makes conscious choices. At the same time, as existence pushes one into action, self-awareness and self-knowledge are of paramount importance. In brief, the element that provides the harmony between being and doing is motivation. The answers we give to the question of ‘why’, are what make us who we are and make us do what we do. The actions and behaviours of the person who knows himself are not arbitrary and random; on the contrary, they are conscious, meaningful and goal oriented. For the writer to know why s/he writes, it is essential that s/he is conscious of who s/he is, how s/he defines herself/himself, what kind of image s/he draws for herself/himself and the society. Provided that s/he knows who s/he wants to be, how s/he wants to define herself/himself and what image s/he wants to create in the society, only her/his actions can support her/him in that direction. So, whatever we do in life, whoever we are, it is very important for us to be conscious of our reason of existence and action.


As I come to the end, here is why I write as a writer. I think, I observe, I analyse, and I make inferences in my own way; therefore, I am! I want to tell my stories, knowledge, and inferences instead of keeping them to myself. I love to write. As I write and share, I feel that I contribute to the wisdom of the whole and I feel inexplicably happy. What is more, I feel enriched when there are comments, ideas, and perspectives from readers, who me give way to new horizons. As I write what’s within me, I feel free. In the case where I keep those to myself, I feel so filled up that would get explode. I can list pages of reasons…


To conclude, we all have great wisdom to impart, whether by writing or speaking, but certainly by sharing in some way. In this age of knowledge and wisdom, it’s time to let it all out, rather than keeping within!


With love, from Barcelona.

28th November 2022

Translated from Turkish by: Handegül Demirhan

Elon Musk and Twitter?

For the last week, I have been following the process of Twitter’s takeover, acquisition and the structural changes that followed. I confess, I am not a Twitter user. Even though I attempted to get into it at one point, it seemed like a boiling cauldron to me, so I left without getting involved. However, this platform is an open space where you can read first-hand what is going on with personal comments. Elon Musk associated Twitter, which he bought for 44 billion dollars, to a digital town square, referring to the Greek Agora. And he is not wrong. It seems like everyone, every topic and every idea is there. Although Elon Musk touts it as a democratic space where everyone can express themselves freely and different voices can be heard, I wonder how much so in reality, especially with him in charge? For example, what kind of a leader do you think he is in terms of human relations and human development, when he is seen as the pioneer of the digital age, the pioneer of progress, the one who is supposed to take human beings into space?


You may have been following the latest articles in the news. Right after Elon Musk bought Twitter, he laid off fifty percent of the employees. These people were notified of the layoffs when they were denied access to Twitter’s intranet and their computers were blocked. He suspended many anti-Elon Musk accounts or completely silenced the voices of tweeters who mocked him. The day after he took over, he ordered all his employees to come to the office full time; any exceptions had to be approved by him. Finally, he is said to have forced his own followers to vote for republicans.


How much of this approach is democratic, people-oriented and appropriate for the age of information and development? The platform that Musk is restructuring gives the impression of a “town square” that is shifting towards a despotic structure. In an arena of creativity and innovation, the democratic experience of freedom of expression that such treatment of employees, who we call internal customers, will give to external customers, i.e. Twitter users, is questionable.


I would like to interpret this phenomenon with a scientific analysis, an analysis based on organizational behavior and leadership. I have been teaching leadership within BA and MBA courses for more than five years, and my students and I have been studying the leadership approaches and personality traits of prominent people throughout history. These include leaders such as Adolf Hitler, Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Queen Elizabeth’s father King George VI, Captain pilot Chesley Sullenberger, lawyer Ruth Bader Ginsburg, lawyer James Donovan, scientist Joan Stanley and Steve Jobs. We analyzed the behavior, approach to people and events, and characteristics of each of them and attributed certain leadership traits to them. For example, we concluded that Captain Sullenberger was an authentic and servant leader, Attorney Ginsburg was a transformational and authentic leader, Hitler was a charismatic and autocratic leader, and Jobs was a charismatic and transformational leader. When I examine Elon Musk’s behaviors and approaches myself, though not yet with my students, I think he has the characteristics of an autocratic, transactional, transformational and charismatic leader.


Elon’s desire to be in control of every decision and his commanding approach makes him autocratic; his expectation that employees quickly adapt to the new customs in the old village and his tendency towards punitive practices to solve their individual problems with him makes him transactional; his boldness and risk-taking in the new management approach as a pioneer of the innovation and technology era makes him transformational; and finally, his belief in himself and his vision, sharing his passion for co-creating change, influencing and inspiring people makes him a charismatic leader. These 4 leadership traits, which seem to be on the extremes and resemble different typologies, complement each other a lot. For example, why charismatic and not authentic or empathetic; autocratic and not democratic; functional and not emotional and social skills-based?


Elon Musk and leaders like him are self-centered, not employee and follower-centered; they choose to stay away from concepts such as love, compassion or empathy. Their leadership power is based on influencing their followers, inspiring them and seeing them develop in line with their vision. Walter Isaacson*, the historian who wrote Steve Jobs’ autobiography, has argued that Musk is very similar to Jobs and Gates, in that all three do not expect love from others, prefer to avoid any kind of emotional connection in order not to compromise their vision, and even have the idea that if they use their emotional skills, they will lose their vision.


Jim Cantrell** talks to Business Insider about his experiences working with Elon Musk and founding SpaceX in 2001-2002:

“There are two different Elons, a good Elon and a bad Elon, and you never know which one you’re going to meet. The good Elon is funny, charming, someone you want to be a part of, someone you want to follow with big ideas. The bad Elon is loud, unfulfilled, difficult to work with because he feels that no one and nothing is enough or that you are not doing your job well enough. On the one hand, a good Elon who conveys his vision through inspirational speeches and ignites your passion for work by emphasizing the importance of what you do, and on the other hand, a bad Elon who fires all the top management…


When I first met him, he was in his late 20s, badly dressed, quite strange, but very bright and determined.  He wanted to prove that man could be a race of interplanetary travelers. When he showed me the first plans for the Falcon 1 and the first SpaceX vehicle they built, I was so impressed and wanted to be part of his vision. I worked as vice president of business development at SpaceX from December 2001 to September 2002. During that time I had a lot of conflicts with Elon; he yelled at me many times, I even had to change myself to the point of giving up on myself to work with him. One time he called me at three in the morning and asked where I was, why I wasn’t in the office! He said there is work to be done, you have to be here. He never expected anything from you that he wouldn’t do himself, but his demands were endless.


I think he would take Twitter to the next level in terms of productivity with his strong will. He always had a vision; he wanted everyone to be 100% aligned with the goals. Even though the goals were clear in his mind, he could not convey them to his employees with the same clarity. Twitter employees need to prepare themselves to be 100% aligned with his vision and mission. Otherwise Elon will treacherously walk all over them. But if they manage to align and have the courage to work with an overly dominant boss who demands all their time for their work, they will have a super fun journey. It depends on everyone’s expectations of life and career.”


In a nutshell, these visionary leaders, who are committed to taking humanity into space, to its development and ascension, are disregarding the basic needs of humanity, trampling on its very existence and creating the space-faring humanoids of the future. Moreover, as slaves to their own ambitions, they oppress not only their opponents but also themselves.


Now I ask you, what would you prefer – to be an interplanetary species that will go into space or to be a species that lives like human beings on earth in peace, love and tranquility?


That’s all from me!

Love from Barcelona.

November 13th 2022


*CNBC – 14 Eylül 2022:

**Business Insider – November 4, 2022:

To Be a World Citizen or Not To Be…

I envy our writers who write about their agenda. I guess because of the rapid development of events and my inability to keep up, I tend to connect my own agenda to the general life in my articles. However, in this article, I would like to point on a phenomenon that has been discussed a lot in recent days, and that is not even limited to a certain period of time, but has existed for centuries. That is antisemitism, the biggest obstacle that prevents human beings from becoming people of the world through lack of love, hatred, polarization, violence and monstrosity!


I was born in Turkey, grew up in Istanbul until I was 10 years old, lived my youth in Israel until I was 16, then continued my life in Istanbul until I was 47 years old, where since then I have been living in Barcelona… Who am I? As a social identity, I am a woman, Turkish and Jewish by birth.  Later on, I had different social identities such as teacher, educator, mother, mentor, etc. I can add many more to these. But the main identity I would define myself as is a “world citizen.” It is not just because I speak many languages, have traveled or lived in many parts of the world. It is because I think I have the perception, attitude, behavior and way of life of a citizen of the world.


What do you think a World citizen looks like? Is s/he a globally recognized and globally known? I think s/he is much more than that… He or she has servant leadership qualities, for example; values other members of society as much as valuing him or herself; values not only her own, but also those with different lives, backgrounds, roots and beliefs; believes that every living being has a perfect place and function in this universe; and if she can support and help them, she would do so voluntarily, passionately, lovingly and compassionately, with the principle of “for the good of the whole”. In short, being a world citizen is about living in a multicultural, multidimensional and integrated way with oneself and society. A true person of the world is someone who is empathetic, who has compassion for themselves and others, who has pure unconditional love for themselves and everyone, who is grateful for what they have and what they don’t have, and who chooses to experience a sense of enrichment by sharing what they have with others.


For example, can we say that Kanye West, who has recently attracted attention with his anti-Semitic rhetoric and statements, is a citizen of the world? Yes, we can say that he has a globalized identity, but I think it is not possible for him to be a world citizen because he lacks the discourse and behavior that would appeal to all the people of the world. How can he be, a unifying, inclusive and a loving world citizen, with his words that sow seeds of discord such as hatred, animosity or polarization, while hiding behind his mental health and instability?


Hate speech against certain segments of society has existed for centuries. Antisemitism is probably the most widespread. Many societies have emerged and disappeared throughout history, but interestingly, from pogroms to genocides, despite everything that it has gone through, the Jewish community has survived for centuries without disappearing. Could it be that the Jewish community, like a “scapegoat”, represents and reminds us of the brightness, sophistication and immortality of true love and compassion, by attracting hatred and violence in the darkness of lovelessness and inhumanity?


A Timeless Note from Mark Twain About the Jewish People, published in the year 1899, evokes this. Although one cannot hear tone of his words, I think it conveys or makes you feel very diverse emotions. I invite you to read the text and sincerely examine the emotions it creates in you:


If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of star dust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world’s list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also away out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvelous fight in the world, in all the ages; and has done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it. The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?” – Mark Twain


Which of the following emotions do you think his words convey? Admiration, envy, idolization? Amazement and curiosity? Envy and jealousy? Feeling powerful, mighty, superior and valuable? Empathy, compassion, love and gratitude? Or anger, shame, guilt? Maybe none of them, maybe all of them… One can feel all of them. It is directly related to where we come from, our background, the upbringing we have and the way we view life and people. Moreover, since all of these emotions are natural and human, it is only natural that we feel a few of them. But what is not natural -and even unacceptable, is how we express them, what we use them for, and what kind of actions and behaviors we push ourselves into.


For those who wish to explore and better understand these emotions, I recommend the 5-part Atlas of the Heart series on HBO Max by Psychologist and Industrial Psychologist Brené Brown. Emphasizing the role of emotions in our lives and the fact that they drive us, Brown is considered a pioneer in the field of emotions. Her words shared on her social media account in response to Kanye West’s anti-Semitic statements are unifying.


I stand with my Jewish friends; I stand with the Jewish community; with love! Antisemitism is the epitome of lovelessness and dehumanization. You cannot love yourself or anyone else when you are in favor of lovelessness. Antisemitism in all its forms is violence. It erodes the elements that bind us as human beings.” – Brené Brown – 25 October 2022


In the last sentence… In order to move away from the phenomenon of lovelessness, hatred and violence and to be able to say “Never again!”, I invite all of us to become a world human being rather than a globally known human being and to master that path…


Love from Valencia…

October 28th, 2022

Bucket List

Last week, October 11, 2022, I did one of the craziest, the most insane and perhaps the undoable thing in my life. It was something that I had in mind for a long time but had neither courage nor time to do it. I still cannot believe I did it.  Looking back, it feels like a gap between reality and a memory. Difficult to explain… Imagine a nightmare you breathlessly wake up from, hardly able to distinguish whether it’s real! For sure, mine was not a dream! It was real… What was real indeed, were the shifts in emotions, attitudes, and perceptions towards life, rather than the act itself! Just like a breakthrough, it opened a doorway to stretch my limits, reexplore myself and experience a new sense of freedom.


You must be saying “Come on…. what is it! What have you done?” The truth, even while typing these lines my heart is pounding loudly. What I did really feels abnormal! So… what I did is… I went up to the blue sky -the sky at which any normal person with their feet on the ground would look up; climbed to 4200 meters high and jumped down! That’s what I did; I skydived from 4200 meters! The crucial part is how I did it, with whom, which tools and with which courage… that is a story of its own! I’ll try to explain…Why? Definitely not to show off! The contrary, to share how I felt and what I added to my life as experience. While putting these into words, I come to realize even more… At this very moment (October 16th, 2022; Sunday 12:47), while typing, I still vividly feel and live those moments… And, what impacted me most was not the jump itself; but all that went in my mind and heart, up until I let myself down that plane… Plus the self-reflections I had later…


So… It all happened on a Tuesday morning (October 11th) at a town called Empuriabrava (, 1,5 hours’ drive from Barcelona. My husband, daughter and I arrived there, anxious, and unsure about what’s expecting us. After registration we met our instructors with whom each would tandem jump. We put on the equipment, got briefed and headed to the plane. Taking the engine’s hot air onto our faces, we got on board a tiny tube-like propeller plane. We left all our personal stuff at the office. Being always on top of things -in case of emergency- I gave my mom’s number and told the location of our house key to a friend, who randomly had called to ask where we were going that morning… (Reflecting back, I realize the magnitude of the responsibility I put on her shoulders!) Although having made my mind up for the dive, I also texted my ear doctor to ask if there would be any risk from pressure change due to high altitude. By the time the response came, I was on my way up in the sky…


Buckled-up, seated side-by-side, facing one another, in that narrow space, all 15 of us were heading upwards into the sky. Opposite me was my instructor Xavier, my husband on his left and the cameraman to record my jump (out of anxiety, my mind seems to have missed processing and recording his name) on his right; at two of my sides were my husband’s instructor and cameraman… Since we were last to jump, we were by the cockpit. We could see all the flight control panels. Nevertheless, I barely saw anything; my eyes were looking; but the mind simply wasn’t processing; all I knew my heart was about to pop out! My daughter, that was to jump first, was sitting at the other end of the plane, by the exit. I could hardly see her face across the 8-10 heads between us. She too was excited! Hers was a different kind; mixed with courage and youthfulness…


On our way up, we were chatting about this and that… Everything was getting smaller and smaller, out of the tiny window behind me. I could see lands, clouds, just like the scenery I am accustomed to see from a Turkish Airline flight. But neither I nor my gazing eyes and feeling heart were the same. The instructor next to me showed the altimeter and said, “we are at 1500 meters, we’re heading up to 4200 meters, we still have more to go.” In half shock I asked myself “Gooosh… what the heck am I doing here… what the hell are we doing?” and turned back to him and said, “just remind me not to do this again!” That, in fact, was a message I was telling myself! Later my husband said that my face was as white as a wall!


In between all these, suddenly, I gave a pause! I decided to clear myself from these fuzzy emotions and thoughts; by inhaling, taking deep breaths… by letting myself notice the reason me being there… by searching inside myself, cognitively being aware and reflecting to myself. And I realized that this was one of the things I wanted to do -like a Bucket List*- my entire life, and here I was to do it. This was my conscious choice and free will to be there… I was there because I truly wanted to have the experience, despite the enormous fear and anxiety. I was determined and I wanted to enjoy it!!!


Finally, the time has come. We, the tandem jumpers, began getting prepared; in a kangaroo-like manner, each got attached to his instructor, straps firmly and safely connected, finally were ready for the jump. Exit door opened and there was my daughter ready to go… I placed a kiss on my palm and blew it towards her. She, catching the kiss with her palm, placed it on her chest -her heart! Doing the same, she too sent me a kiss. Then…. Hoop, she jumped!  There was neither anxiety nor fear, but I felt mere joy and happiness! Through a flashback, I went back 18 years in time; to the day she was born, the moment I had her in my arms; when she was a tiny, naïve, and vulnerable baby… All of a sudden, watching her jump out of the plane felt like rebirth; becoming a grown up mature young woman, who is smart and skillful, knowing herself and being in charge of her life. That was the moment I realized; my daughter grew up!


While busy thinking about all these, all solo divers had jumped, and it was our turn… Standing by the exit, facing the -10 degrees freezing cold, I turned to my husband and said “bye…” My cameraman had already jumped and up in the air he was waiting for me! I took a deep breath, looked down and thought “this is it, just enjoy!” Xavier and I made that small leap and began going down in open air at full speed. Like birds… flapping our arms, as if flying or swimming in the air and were whirling round and round for a minute or so… “Shirli, this is real… you are free falling…” (Actually, we were falling down, in full speed!) I thought, “…and you, were about to kill this experience with your fear and anxiety!


It was an amazing experience. At the end of that one-minute Xavier pulled the shroud line to open the parachute. Going down in full speed, we instantly began bouncing upwards, and floating up in the air. For another five minutes or so we fluttered down, slowly making our way down, making rounds… Apart from the magnificence of the scenery beneath my feet; conceiving the reality -of me and my white Nikes floating in the air in that scenery, was even more amazing. No words to describe this sensation! I flew like a bird and was about to land. Fear would be inevitable, as this was a totally an unfamiliar experience… But the urge to enjoy the moment and take the best of its marvels just outnumbered the fear. This was, what one may call adrenaline at its peak! When we landed back at the initial point, I felt no fear, anxiety, or excitement. Instead, there were a lot of new revelations, pieces of awareness, and loads of emotions and thoughts…


I noted some of my takeaways below…

  • My daughter’s jump somewhat symbolizes the cutting of the umbilical cord once again and signifies as her flying off and living her life on her own. The two critical moments in her life, me giving birth and her jumping down the plane, got united.
  • This was the first time ever in my life, that I chose to trust and handover my life to someone I barely know. I indeed did trust him! Even though I had had many workshops and personal development programs, never have I had a trust test as this one before.
  • Corona and the pandemic had taught us how we cannot have any control over our lives. Personally, I consider myself having had significant progress. For the first time I was able to let go of the control and hand it over to an expert.
  • I realized that holding on to having control does no good! Because, while we are busy with keeping it, we are actually missing out the real experience. Once we learn to let go, we’ll truly let ourselves be able to enjoy life and its marvels. Despite saying “I won’t do this again” before the jump, surprisingly I said, “I’ll do it again!” during the 60-second freefall.
  • Besides the issue of letting go control, I had the chance to experience something incredible with my own choice and will. I am referring to the dreadful sensation of coming face-to-face with death and experiencing fear. Well, I must admit I somewhat met the angel of death twice in my life, where both brought such takeaways that were key in leading my life then after. The first was in 1999, at time of the destructive Gölcük earthquake; in those 47 seconds of earth shaking, I remember promising myself, “Shirli, if you get to survive this nightmare, you shall change what you don’t like and live as you like.” The second incidence was in 2016, on a Turkish Airline flight from New York to Istanbul; we had to make an emergency landing to Halifax because of a technical issue -where soon after we learnt it was a bomb alert. It was then that I said to myself “Shirli, you’re here with your husband and daughter; if this is the end, there’s nothing to do; until today you’ve carried a life fulfilled in a way you wanted, you achieved your goals, on the other hand, there is so much more you want to further accomplish…” and promised myself, “If you survive this craze, you shall not change anything, and will go on living as you’ve been doing.” This skydive was the third experience… Once again, I was facing the fear of death, but with a great distinction, which it was with my own will, deliberately, to explore and stretch my limits. This time I promised myself “Shirli, if you want to enjoy the marvels of life, let go of the control.” So, that’s what I did, and doing!
  • Unsurprisingly, my ear doctor eventually did call and text me, while I was up in the air. Guess what, he said! “Do it! Not even with a single doubt!” He even asked if I had done it and how the experience had been. I responded him with a video recording saying, “it was awesome, amazing, incredible!
  • Frankly, I did not share this outrageous thing I had done with many people. Interestingly, as time goes by, it gets normalized; I perceive it as more normal than abnormal. Almost everyone whom I told reacted with shock, either saying things like “God, what have you done!” or being speechless -who in particular were my parents! Their reflections signified the abnormality; however, all of the takeaways I had at the end and the courage for another jump made it quite normal! Needless to mention the small detail that my instructor Xavier did his 5th jump with me that morning. Now the crazy question is revolving in my mind: What I had done, was it abnormal or quite normal? This question I leave to you!

October 16th, 2022


*Bucket List is derived from the expression kicking the bucket that means dying. It was proposed by the scenarist and film director Justin Zackham, in 1999, by adding the word list as reference to realizing one’s dreams before death. In 2007, he directed his film with the same title Bucket List, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. Perhaps the film and its title has inspired many to realize their dreams before death.


Regardless… A True Story!

Have you realized that movies based on true stories are now produced more and more compared to the past years, and they are getting higher demand by the audience? How do I know? Because I prefer this type of movies to fiction ones. It takes one to know one! Why, though? These movies help me go back to the period in which they take place; thanks to their stories, to witness the emotions, experiences, and choices behind those events, to feel as if I have been through all of them, even for just a moment and take lessons out of them. Besides, I use such movies as case studies in my leadership courses, to inspire my students, so that they can make realistic inferences about leadership. “A wise person learns from his mistakes. A wiser one learns from others’ mistakes.” they say.

Last week, I encountered a new movie that may be an impeccable case candidate: Regardless*. Absolutely striking, and just as shocking. I was drained and shaken to the core, while watching this based on true story movie. The reason to it is that it is beyond reality –it is a terrifying story, reminiscent of fiction. I would have said “This story can’t be real!”, if I hadn’t met the protagonist face to face, moments before watching the movie, if hadn’t shaken hands and hadn’t talked to him.  But it is! It is so real that the hero was watching his own story, in that very room, with me and all the invited audience, just three seats away. Within the one hour fifty-six minute movie, for split-seconds my mind and emotions strayed away to the fact that the protagonist was there, with us. Just imagine… Imagine that he, who confirms the reality of the incredible things he’s gone through, is there sitting right beside you and watching it! It’s hard not to be impressed when you look at this beautiful person who has managed to remain “human” with his innocent face, tender heart, and kindness despite all evils! For this reason, the incredible story of İlhan Doğan, who in spite of everything succeeded in being the leader of his life, deeply affected me.


Consul General of Marseille Arda Ulutaş (on the right), my husband and I.


When we left the theatre, I wasn’t the person I was before the movie! I, who deliver trainings to people about regulating emotions, was completely out of control. I couldn’t manage my emotions, I was in tears and my body shaking, in shock with the thought: “What kind of a life story is this?” I got dragged to this state of emotions after İlhan Doğan’s speech he made, at the end of the movie. Hearing his words, the exact same lines of the leading actor in the movie, brought me back to the bitter “truth” and “reality” of what İlhan had experienced.


The movie hasn’t been released yet. I had the honor of watching it at a  special premiere, nominated for the Cannes Film Festival, along with a small and distinguised audience. Being there was an honor. A small detail;  this movie -Regardless, though been stuck in the pandemic period for two years and having waited to be released, is not a foreign production; but is a Turkish production, presenting the life of İlhan Doğan, a famous leader of the Network Marketing industry. Directed by Erdal Murat Aktaş, with its cast (such as Erkan Petekkaya, Sinan Akdeniz, Barbara Sotelsek, Nihan Büyükağaç, Rıza Akın, Kaan Kaiser), it is a remarkable production. It will be launched in seven languages (Turkish, German, English, French, Spanish, Russian and Arabic), at different parts of the world… Coming soon…

No spoilers… But… It tells the heroic story of a man, born in Germany, got uprooted by going to Adana, then back to Germany; a traumatic childhood and youth, while despite all succeeds in overcoming difficulties one after another, and reaches positions anyone would be envious of. It is a must-watch movie! Why? With all its pure truth, İlhan’s story is an inspiration for hope… A powerful lesson… A vivid example that heroes can and do exist, not only in novels, but in real life too… And, has the message that there is always an option to choose and become a good person, regardless of everything.



Endless thanks to everyone who contributed –to especially dear Murat Aktaş.

Lots of love from Barcelona…


* Regardless – Her Şeye Rağmen



Don’t fight! Love!

We have come to the end of the line again!

History is repeating itself…

The same game, the same pain, the same losses… continue.

Going through the same ordeal over and over again, suffering, agonizing…

Until when?

Until we learn our lesson!


We have learned to fly like birds and swim like fish, but we have not learned to live as brothers and sisters.”

– Martin Luther King.


How many more centuries must pass in this lifetime?

How long must we live the same history?

Will we manage to live as brothers and sisters?

When will that be?


When we learn to love!

When we love nature and all living things!

When we recognize true and pure love!

When we unconditionally and sincerely love!

When we love not only those we love, but also those we get annoyed from and those we cannot tolerate!

When we love even those we see as rivals or enemies!

When we love others not with a “but”, not “despite everything”, but “with everything”!

When we believe in the unifying, healing and integrating effect of love!

When we believe that love can solve even the biggest conflicts!

When we start sharing love instead of keeping it to ourselves and create an abundance of love!

Then will we be able to live as brothers and sisters…


One only knows what war is when it is over.”

– Henry Noel Brailsford



If war didn’t come to an end on earth for centuries, it means we still haven’t understood what it is.


Instead of understanding war, let’s understand love!


Love from Barcelona…

March 9, 2022

The Last Duel

Last weekend, I watched Ridley Scott’s (2021) movie The Last Duel, which is about the true story set in 1386. The film is based on Eric Jager’s (2006) book The Last Duel: The True Story of Crime, Scandal, and Trial by Combat in Medieval France. The story is about the trial by duel between two formerly close friends, the warrior knights (de Carrouges and le Gris). Le Gris is on trial for raping de Carrouges’ wife. According to the court decision, one will die at the end of the duel and the survivor will have done God’s will, that is, justice. If Le Gris survives, he will be acquitted, and de Carrouges’ wife will be burned at the stake as punishment. I won’t give any spoilers… But I can say it’s a must-watch movie that is terrifying to the bone! I couldn’t get over it for a long time. It made me question the progress, change and transformation societies have gone through since the Middle Ages. Although we have experienced tremendous modernisation in science, technology, health, management, and social aspects, I cannot say that we have made much progress in some respects, especially in women’s rights and the status of women in society. As for the reason, I shall explain…


Think about the 21st Century, in the relatively developed societies… Consider the status of women, their role and the opportunities they can have, or things they can do today… think about it! Surely, although women have won great rights since the history – and they have suffered and struggled much to win those rights, unfortunately, their place in society has not reached an equal position with men! One does not need a guide to a village that’s already within sight! It’s crystal clear that we haven’t made much progress in achieving the deserved level for women’s rights; considering that we still celebrate International Working Women’s Day (8th March); that there are opposing ideas against feminism movements; that various NGOs and think-tanks carry out activities advocating for equality of women side-by-side men; that concepts such as “equal pay for equal work” or “glass ceiling syndrome” regarding women employees are still matters of discussion; and that the sexist behaviour and gender-biased policies, like from the wages of women to promotions, continue in the workplace!


Upon leaving the cinema, I questioned the status of women in the society since 1386 until today! I thought about the experiences of a young married woman who was raped, the way she defended herself and the ‘judgmental’ looks of others in the face of this incident; I questioned the role of women as mother and wife; I thought about the socially constructed role attributed to a woman, as if she were a property that should be protected, or even that belonged to the man; and, I thought about how men’s perception of masculinity was structured and shaped. Centuries passed, but the status of women and men in society hasn’t changed much, I said to myself!


Later, I examined the reflection of this sociocultural phenomenon on the languages ​​I speak. For example, in modern Turkish, couples call each other as their ‘partner’ or my equal, signifying as my other half; however, it is interesting that in some European languages ​​with a feminine-masculine distinction, men call their wives my wife (English), ma femme (French), mi mujer (Spanish), ishti (Hebrew) with possessive and dominating words meaning ‘my woman’. A woman says baali (Hebrew) meaning my owner, mi marido (Spanish) meaning my man, mon marie (French), and my husband (English) meaning ruler of the house in Old Norse. Meanwhile, before the word “partner” was coined, even still today, spouses address each other by kocam and karım. It is claimed that the origin of the word karım (my wife in Turkish) comes from the word ‘snow’ (kar in Turkish) that covers the mountain; and kocam (my husband in Turkish) comes from the word ‘great’ (koca in Turkish). That is, every time a woman calls her husband, she emphasises his wisdom and majesty, just like a mountain; the man, on the other hand, expresses that he sees his wife as the person who surrounds and covers him in his life. How nice, isn’t it!


When I look at the society’s positioning of women alongside men, I must say that modern Turkish language, which is not sexist, and Turkish culture in essence, is more contemporary and egalitarian compared to others. For example, while Turkish women were given the right to vote and be elected in 1934, the same rights were given in Switzerland in 1971, in Israel, along with its establishment, in 1948, in Spain in 1933 (where after Franco’s regime in 1977). (You can check the list of countries at We owe the modernity and equality that Turkish women have today to Atatürk. However, he did not live long enough to make his vision and actions sustainable; and today, women’s equality with men is still being discussed, and efforts are made to break the bigoted perception and mentality.


Considering this, the works of the Turkish based NGO Yanındayız and the movement for equality between women and men, initiated by their #kadınerkekeşittirnokta Conference (meaning ‘women and men are equal, full stop’ in Turkish), are noteworthy. It is an innovative movement in a way that it includes a wide range of supporters within the society, adopts an egalitarian approach among women and men, and addresses the difficulties also experienced by men in society, that is not based on positive discrimination against women. What is striking is that it examines the male perception of masculinity and the right to dominate over women, as a result of social learning, and the psycho-social source of this; it is a movement that aims to raise awareness on this issue and transform mindsets. Perhaps this is one of the most pioneering movements I have followed so far.


Years ago, I heard a phrase at a women’s conference: “men talk, women do”. It is a process where men must also be involved apart from the active role that women played in establishing equality. This process is not a duel between a man and a woman, it is a collaboration. Because it has a characteristic that will directly concern, influence, and ultimately liberate men. I would like to end this article with the words of a feminist sociologist and writer Pınar Selek, whose words I quoted from the conference I mentioned: “Men whose egos are constantly inflated, who are identified with the myths of the sovereign, and who are applauded as they approach these myths, are constantly castrated on the wheels of sovereignty. Because while their capacity for violence is constantly being nurtured, they stumble in real life. In other words, their truths are crushed and fragmented. In other words, masculinity learned by crawling becomes a process in which the promise of power and impotence are experienced together.”


I am hereby sharing the Youtube link for those who are interested in watching the conference. Just to note that it is in Turkish!



With love.

November 17th, 2021


Translation from Turkish: Handegül Demirhan