This article is oddly not about the tragedy at Colectiv nor its visible political consequences. No, this one is about you. You’re just an average Joe, a kind and gentle person really. You try not to bother anyone and just make your way in life as best as you can. You go to school or work, get yelled at by the subway employees, curse at the potholes in your streets, somehow consume enough with your modest income so the country’s economy can keep on going strong and at the end of the day you slip in bed with the thought that you’d do so much better in another, more civilized country. So you set the goal of moving to one somewhere in the future. This country is barely hanging on as it is, why should you go down with the ship? Why should you vote, throw the trash in the trash can, respect people in traffic or in the bus, refrain from yelling to your friend in public? You’re almost gone, anyway. That’ll show them.
Meanwhile, you sympathetically glance at the poor beings that are trudging along on the streets of your most hated country. Poor souls. Nothing’s going to change in this country. Every politician you see keeps promising change, but nothing happens. Then it turns out they stole some money, which everyone knew about anyway, aren’t they all the same? Obviously, politicians can only disappoint you.
So you go on, almost feeling the warm embrace of the better place you’re going to move to before going to sleep each night, trying to dream your current situation away. Someone got stabbed and robbed on the street the other day? Ah, this country. The PM and the president are fighting over a bill? They’re all the same, anyway, those thieves! Why should you bother yourself with wasting a thought on their petty dispute?
But then something happens. A terrible tragedy, with more casualties and injured people than you can remember in a while. Could it have been avoided? Of course, you utter. Then who’s to blame? The official bodies that were supposed to verify the safety of the location of the tragedy. Of course, of course, but that’s much too abstract. You don’t know any of those faces, their names mean nothing to you. So you go higher, and rightfully so, because your well being was at risk. What is this, the state of nature? Are you supposed to fend for yourself and live in fear like some sort of animal?
So you protest. You go into the streets, like your parents before you. At least some of them. Your grandparents didn’t, because they would’ve been crushed by Soviet tanks, but that’s not the point. You want someone to pay. Someone you can recognize from TV, someone you can point your finger at in anger and shout “What did you do about it?” And of course, they’re to blame.
But aren’t you as well? Since 1990, your leaders haven’t taken office without your approval. And since then, every 4 years, you had the civic duty to take a moment and examine their performance objectively. If you consider yourself an intellectual, go crazy and take into consideration the left-right dichotomy. The theory appeals to you a bit but when confronted with an opinion other than your own, you fall back to the safety of “they’re all the same.” Lesser evil accounted for, you make your decision, even by abstaining.
Politics is not math. 7,4 million sometimes do not carry as much weight as 32. At the same time, professional politics is not done with passion. “No more corruption!” say the streets that wanted Basescu out in 2012 and thus voted into the Parliament the most devious, two-faced crooks.
You’re confused. Don’t you have the moral high ground here? Hardly. Where were you, mister average protester, when the MPs tried to vote themselves into immunity from DNA? When they granted themselves lifetime compensations for each mandate served, when minister after minister went to jail for corruption, when a socialist government cut state investments, putting people out of work so they would have enough to electorally raise the pay of others? When they governed through emergency ordinances so the president wouldn’t send the law projects back? When they murdered the few remaining state-owned companies like Oltchim? When they frightened your grandparents with the “foreign baby peddler” using their disgusting media mercenaries? When they didn’t let your countrymen in other parts of the world vote? When they systematically attacked the barely awakening justice system so as to save their corrupt friends? When they erased the debt of KazMunaiGaz, which we could’ve used to keep the doctors in the country? When they gave a law just for one person, be it even the prime-minister and his fake doctorate. When they electorally inaugurated a highway then closed it after 10 months, costing 114 million Euros which could’ve been put to better use. But that’s much too abstract for you.
So go out in the streets. Wave your signs. Shout your demands. Today you did more good than you could possibly imagine, even if it wasn’t for the right reasons. But it’s much too late. People had to die before you’d open your eyes.