Tag Archives: eastern europe

International #atozchallenge

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Objectivity, is it real?

Our views are shaped by individual experiences, by lessons learned early on. As much as we advocate our individualism, to a large degree we’re products of our upbringing.

Many break away from the past, but that’s the exception not the norm. Growing up in religious families, for example, would mean religion is important. If the opposite is true, we’re likely not big churchgoers.

I grew up in Eastern Europe — Romania — where religion was part of life without being ingrained in our way of thinking. The majority viewed religion as a way of teaching and passing on traditions. There was a distinction between spirituality and religion.

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Understanding Eastern Europe means examining her past — too long a post and for another time. Suffice it to say history haunts the region. One of the first lessons there is the importance of learning our history, and by association, education.

But is learning our history, acknowledging our everyday moments, enough?

The limits of our willingness to learn about the world — on an international level, not only our corner of the world — is, by repeating past errors, tested to shaky results.  

The other day, an acquaintance I consider worldly described one of those far-off Russian places, one of the Stans. She was referring to  Kazakhstan, a former Soviet Republic, not a Russian place, where the language is Turkic, the country more Asian. A place rich in history where wanders never cease. The word choice painted a distant, cold place, populated by aliens.

I’ve made similar comments about places less understood, whether in jest or seriously. Breaking away from ingrained beliefs requires curiosity, objectivity, education. 

Still, is objectivity real? Not sure. Perhaps it’s an idealistic principle like justice or truth, a nice idea imperfectly operated in human hands.

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Image: cultureilustrated.com

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Dark Side

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It was interesting to see I had someone from Bosnia-Herzegovina visit my blog. I didn’t see a comment, but cool nonetheless. If they’d stopped by, I would’ve loved to have said hi. Would’ve told them about the time I lived a little to the east, in Romania.

Just the other day, I was looking at the map of Eastern Europe, trying to figure out the various corridors set up for refugees making their way to Europe via Greece.

It’s difficult keeping away from the news coming in from that part of the world these days. So much of Europe’s history goes back to refugee crisis of its own, war, senseless suffering, and here we are again — more senseless suffering, people fleeing their homes, looking not for a better life, but for a life.

I understand the safety concerns, and how overwhelming this mass influx can be on any one country. The refugees have to be housed, fed, and receive medical attention. Many are going to stay, no matter what, and will need jobs at some point, schooling and so on.

Still … these are people — from babies to seventy-year olds — fleeing unimaginable violence. Not the faces of folks looking for economic opportunity, I don’t think, more like going through harrowing journeys to survive.

Who is to say this can’t happen in Eastern Europe one day? With all the political insecurity, the turmoil on the other side of the Black Sea, who’s to say many Eastern Europeans won’t find themselves in this very situation, fleeing, desperately looking for a refuge?

There is a dark side to humanity, and what’s going on in Eastern Europe right now — the refusal to help no matter how overwhelming — highlights the darkest of the streaks. This is not to be said for every country, of course, Croatia just announced they would allow refugees in, but for so many it’s too late.

Given Europe’s history, the complicity in evil that killed millions in places like Dachau and Birkenau, I can’t help but wonder how the current crisis is going to look with the benefit hindsight.

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Image: doitineurope.com