Friday, February 27, 2009

Speaking in the Name of All...Or Not?

The New York Times published an article on Romania on the 26th of Feb titled "Romania Shrugs Off Reminder of Its Past", by Michael Kimmelman.

After reading the article I had one puzzling question: how can anyone look down on a whole nation and squeeze it into simplistic views with such an ease?

"In straitened times it’s easy to mistake cost for value. You might also say it’s the difference between cash and culture, the price of something and what’s ultimately priceless. Romanians, it seems, have been prone to confuse the two."
Does he really mean all Romanians? Can anyone take such huge responsibility and actually state that - speaking in the name of all Romanians? What right does he have? Who does he think he is, adopting a patronizing tone and looking down on all Romanians?!
Yes, there are problems - but the truth is never simple and can never be generalized (especially in this part of the world, I'd say).

"But the ho-hum response here speaks volumes about this struggling country’s cash-versus-culture climate. With most barely scraping by, Romanians admire private enterprise more than they value some vague notion of shared artistic heritage."
I am surprised again to see how easy it is for Mr. Kimmelman to simplify things, without any touch of doubt (!)
The author of the article quotes further some opinions that support his too-generalized conclusions (you can always find anyone to state anything).

“Romanians sympathize with Valentin [Ceausescu] because he worked the system to his advantage. [no public survey has been carried out in this respect anyway so it can't be said for certain in the name of all Romanians] Our idea of culture now is making money. We still have too many basic needs to worry about elevated ones like art and the state.(Cristian Stanescu)"
This is a personal belief, to be sure. We do not live in simplified artificial worlds in this global society any more and if we think a little deeper we realize our lives are so complex, maybe too complex sometimes, that Maslow's pyramid of needs is such an old thing of the past. We simply cannot live without touching on the whole spectrum of needs - from very basic to very complex - here, in Romania, as well as in the American society and in many other parts of the world...I wish the author of this article had had more respect for a different culture than his.

I believe that articles like these are dangerous and detrimental to effective communication between cultures and deter the real authenticity of understanding - such a pity because we live such hard times - together, all in a boat - when mutual cultural understanding is essential...

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