Friday, January 6, 2012

Romanian Irony

Most of the time I am proud of my country.  The creativity, innovation and spunk of the American populace is inspiring.  But all too often I am embarrassed.  While the much of the world is rioting for human rights and a lot of other things we take for granted, what do we riot over?  We riot over a Penn State football coach being fired.  I can't wrap my head around what is going on over at Penn State.  I am a sport fan.  I have been known be fanatical over the Red Sox.  But if any member of the Red Sox (like Terry Francona, Jim Rice or even Ted Williams) had ever been fired for the covering up of pedophilia, I don't think I would be rioting.  I can't speak for all Sox fans, but I am willing to bet there wouldn't be a riot but some depression and/or denial.  I would probably even agree with the firing.  I will just have to add the Penn State riots to the long list of things I don't understand and ... move on.

I don't remember the Romanian riots in 1989.  I was a bit self-absorbed back then.  I only vaguely remember the slew of other violent revolts in Warsaw Pact countries that year, but as I read about them they seem an awful lot like the revolutions (aka the Arab Spring) in the Middle East this past year.  Since the revolutions in Hungary, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Poland and Romania lead to the fall of Communism in the Soviet Union a short time later, you really have to wonder what the long term affect of the Arab Spring will be. It is exciting when I think about it.

I don't know much about Romania out of side of what I have read in Bram Stoker's Dracula.  Castles and underfunded orphanages come to mind. In 1965, the year I was born, Nicolae Ceauşescu became the Communist dictator of Romania.  With the intention of molding the people into the model of the "New Socialist Man," he created sweeping reforms throughout the country.  One of then was one of the strictest laws ever against abortion with the intent of strengthening the Romanian population.  Not only that, but all forms of contraception were banned and women were taxed, "a celibacy tax," if there were not getting pregnant.  These laws had the desired affect in that the birthrate doubled within a year.  But the children of this generation's quality of life was much lower than just a few years earlier in every way.  The grades were lower, crime rates were higher and when they got older the job market was stretched thin. In Romania, like anywhere else, when a child is born into a family that doesn't want him/her, the results are usually not good.  The irony here is that in 1989, when Ceauşescu was overthrown and he and his wife were executed, he was done so by a mob that were made up mostly of young people.  Mobs of people in their late teens and earlier 20's were erupting in Bucharest and all the other big cities in Romania.  If not for his policies, much of these young people would never have been born.

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