We Don’t Ask For Happiness

Less Pain
Leadership in Romania… or the lack of it…

My country Romania is at the crossroads of many civilizations and has a tumultuous history. Essentially, we are Gaeto-Dacians, a population somehow similar to the Celts and the Scandinavians, with whom we share several traits like paganism, respect of the nature, a spiritual attitude, courage and a taste for freedom. What survived from the old times up to nowadays, pictures the ancients as some truly “sons of light”. What is now the geographical space of Romania was once part of a territory named Dacia. The Romans used to call it Dacia Felix, that’s the Latin term for Dacia, the Happy One. This was our starting point. Then, along our history, stuff got nasty.

What makes the Romanian space and population unique is hospitality, richness, and a taste for peace. We never had a colonial empire; we never went at war except for protecting our interests. We always had everything we wanted. And this led, unfortunately, to a lack of awareness: our hospitality was abused by several empires who exploited us (Romans, Tatars, Turks, Austrians, Hungarians, Russians… pretty much everyone made Romania their source of slaves and material goods), making the Black Sea our best friend throughout history; our taste for peace was used to subjugate us (Romanians rarely do revolutions or strikes, they are exceptionally placid even under the direst circumstances); our natural wealth attracted several predators who stole everything they could and we didn’t take a stance because we knew we are so rich that we can afford any loss (forests have been cut and sent in Austria and Italy to make furniture, the oil and the grains of the south were used to fuel the German war machine during WWII, our intellectuals were left to escape richer countries where they contributed to their wealth, for instance sculptors like Brancusi, writers like Eliade, the programmers at Microsoft or Google and the nowadays doctors in Western Europe). The point is that the preconceived ideas that we’re rich and tolerant have brought us to poverty and suffering.

Along with these phenomena, our national spirit was gradually perverted; we developed negative traits. Our helplessness in front of our aggressors turned to superstition and an excessive subjugation to the orthodox Christian church; our hopelessness lead to pessimism and the conviction that nothing can turn right in our country; our worthlessness gave good reasons for a huge tolerance for mediocrity and the conviction that we deserve all the evils. The old Gaeto-Dacian foundation was covered by cowardice, irresponsibility, passivity, religious darkness and fear of freedom.

And so we get to our present time…

Since the fall of Ceausescu in 1989 – aka the Romanian Revolution that was heavily stimulated from abroad since the Romanians, being placid, were unable of revolt – we’ve been ruled by politicians that were also leading before or were the backups in case the first line fails. We changed, formally, from communism to capitalism and from dictatorship to democracy, but in fact, the politicians were the same. Or, it’s obvious that you can’t change ideology so radically… unless the ideology is a cover for your interests… which was the case here… For 25 years we’re being ruled by people trained and educated under the communist regime. And since responsibility and competence weren’t their most cherished values, Romania went from worse to pure evil.

The entire situation left a mark on the most intelligent and capable Romanians. We used to have a population of 23 millions 25 years ago. Now we barely amount to 17 millions between our borders. 4 millions emigrated abroad. 1 million died. And there were significant changes in the population profile: we have more than 3 million gypsies within our borders, a population that typically does not have as values hard working or integrity. The birthrate is low, the population gets older and older, the younger ones aim to emigrate abroad as fast as possible, sometimes not waiting to finish faculty training (which is also low quality and lacks recognition abroad).

And we finally make it to some weeks ago, when the Romanians got in the streets, protesting against the corruption of our politicians and the lack of efficient leadership.

I also participated to the protests in my town.

I was shocked to see that most of the protesters were of high-school or faculty student age. They weren’t organized at all. They were quite confused about the reasons of their protest. The entire crowd of 250+ people was there for some sort of a street party and evening jogging on the streets of the town. A good reason to yell and make noise. And that was all… 4 days later a chilly rain started to pour and the protest was over.

I hear a lot around me and I also see on the internet that one should live in the present. But there is a tricky part: if you only live in the present and aim easy satisfaction of your needs and desires, there is nothing left for the future. You build nothing for the ones that come after you. When we’re talking about a nation or a country, you can’t afford to live in the present; you have the obligation to plan ahead, to have a strategy, a long-term strategy. Or, we have not.

The young people who took to the streets did not have a minimal social or civic training, they did their best but they had no democratic exercise. The society never prepared them to express their disapproval in an organized and decent power display. They weren’t educated, civically-speaking. And, as a result, they didn’t get results.

The “Street” got the resignation of the government. Then, a technocratic government was sworn in. The chosen prime-minister seems already to be a puppet in the hands of the foreign interests. What was painful and embarrassing to watch, was his inability to find trained young people to name as ministers for several ministries. Romania lacks specialists. Even him, the prime-minister, was trained in France and was working in Brussels before being appointed by our president. What he got is a government made by inexperienced young people who are easily influenced by the old politicians (instead influenced read bribed), even if this is an apolitical government. The result is easily foreseeable I’m afraid… What is even more interesting is that the “Street”, the people who protested against the rulers, seems to have been satisfied by the current situation, even if it is obvious that the present government can’t and won’t do anything. The “Street” is just happy to have escaped the responsibility of changing something and is happy now to be able to blame somebody – the present government – when things do not improve.

Charled Bukowski is an American author. He was a lucid observer. During his appearances in several interviews, he was accompanied by a bottle of wine that was consumed along. Bukowski used to say that, after some time, everything seems to repeat and gets boring, so he prefers to blur his exceptionally clear vision with alcohol, in order to make life bearable. The quote in the image of this article defines very well what happens in my country, the prevalent mentality: we don’t ask for happiness… just a little less pain. From the bright, heroic, courageous and free Geto-Dacians, the Romanian population has evolved backwards to a pathetic crowd that begs not Dacia “Felix”, but Dacia “Bearable”. It was a process performed by the rule of microtrauma – slowly eroding values and principles – and it seems to have become a great success.

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