Loving one?s country ? inner pride or outer attire?

Loving one?s country ? inner pride or outer attire?


The inside out perspective

I came across an interesting article by a Rumanian journalist the other day (Lucian Mandruta, Romeo, Punkt.md) tackling this subject with an open-minded, ironically driven attitude from an inside out perspective: ??Loving Romania is like the ?Romeo and Juliet story?, he states, ??a little risky?for you never know which of the two families will come at you?.

The Romanians seem to have this oxymoronic tendency to love and hate their country at the same time, with a fatalistic vision about their own future, flavoured by an ambitious quest to find redemption under the roofs of others rather than under their own.

Whenever I visit my country from abroad, my co-nationals complain about the same things with the same monotone diatribe I?ve been hearing for the past 10 years: ?nothing works in our country, it must be better where you live?.
Of course, the grass is always greener on the other side. I would name it curiosity, while in their minds it?s already an assertion. Yet, ?dancing with wolves? doesn?t necessarily imply Kevin Costner in the ritual. It?s more a matter of Hollywood and its encapsulating dreams.

What happened to the idyllic ?Latin island in a Slavic ocean?? What has become of the ?little Paris?, once cluster of culture and art in the 30s, nowadays famous for the holes in the streets, or often mistaken for the neighbouring capital, Budapest? Has loving our own country really become an optional convenience? Patriotism no longer seems to be an inner pride, but rather an optional attire to put on now and then. To suffer less from the eventual loss, they found an excuse: globalization.

The outside in perspective

A while ago, I was flying on the Berlin-Munich route and, while on the flight, I was skimming through the informative magazine, distributed in thousands of copies on the national and international flights. An interesting article, written by famous intercultural analysts absorbed my attention. It was about ?Do?s and don?ts in the international business world?. Romania was referred to as well.

?Wow, it must have become an important country for trade? I was thinking, with my doubt out loud. As much as I expected the well-known stigmatic stereotypes about my country, I was bewildered to read: ?Don?t: when in a business conversation with a Romanian, don?t get offended if your partner constantly answers his/her mobile phone.? Hmm, the Romanians have become the impolite business partners of the 21st century. I?d rather they had stated: ?When in Romania, bring your garlic along.?

In my 10 years? travels through Italy, France and Germany, I have been confronted with the same biased images or innuendoes about my country: gipsies, Dracula, homeless children, homeless dogs and the ?Securitate? tales, some of which really whopping, ready for a new Universal Pictures script.

Yet nobody seems to know about the uniqueness of a Voronet, of an Infinite Column, of a Happy Graveyard, of a Porumbescu?s Ballad, of the rich folk dances, and of a traditional upbringing and kindness of a warm and welcoming people.

I never had much time to actually present my country for I?ve had to deal more with presenting a plea for my country in front of an ever changing jury, rather than sharing cultural diversities, on a one-on-one level.

It took me a lot of time to reassure my foreign ex parents-in-law that my childhood had not been ?endangered?, that the best winter holidays were actually spent in the countryside at our grandparents? house, where the goodies were already ?bio? at no extra cost, and where, in the lack of ready-made dolls with multiple accessories and 3D video games, we invented our own playground and toys, the way we wanted to. That we read more than we watched TV and that we had the spacious views to shape our dreams and not to have our fantasies already preconfigured by computer games and simulations. Yet this would be another interpolated topic about traditions vs. globalization, even though traditions are a part of a people?s essence, therefore a beauty to love.

And the final apparel?

A bold and picturesque campaign on positive thinking about Romania, intended for national and international display, initiated by deceiubescromania.com has printed a few names promoting the values of our country: Coanda, Nastase, Comaneci, Paulescu and Odobleja (aeronautics, sports, medicine and computer technology excellence). Very nice initiative and at least one bold step forward, yet hardly envisaging the uniqueness of the Romanian culture and enrooted traditions. While looking at one of them, a big green poster with a huge tennis ball on the side, I was puzzled: how will I ever be able to describe, from abroad, my country and its values?through the symbol of a tennis ball? I am pretty bad at tennis myself.

Despite any advertising beauty cream, promising miracles from the surface to the depths of the skin, a true beauty starts from within and bursts to the outer finish with distinguished attire.

The Romanians seem to be confused about the attire they?d put on to please their visiting guests, or to display while they are abroad. They long for love, while they?ve forgotten to love themselves. How about trusting what we are and what are we made of, before even expecting other countries to appreciate such apparel? How about keeping our roots alive as a base for exploring our inner resources to unravel an explosive unique identity in the present modern world? How about not expecting the extraordinary but just being it? And then, when we are asked who we are and we simply reply: ?I am Romanian?, it would be the biggest contribution we can give to our land.

The best attire entails the fastening sewing within. We have the surface through our virgin landscapes and we have the ingredients ? the intelligence. Let?s hold on to our hearts: the essence of what we are about. And the love will emerge.

(Soar, December 1st, 2011. Written on the occasion of the National Romanian Day, commemorating the ?Great Union? Day: the unification of Transylvania to the country. Photo Credits: www.econnect-usa.com)

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