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August 8, 2022

Monologue in Babylon

There is incessant talk about the budget for 2012, which should have been finalised some time ago. There are talks between ruling coalition partners, talks between opposition parties, talks between the members of the civil society, or with one another, but there is something all these discussions share: nobody really cares to hear what the other side has to say. When the power decides to freeze pensions and salaries, trade unions protest, but without a precise objective, while the opposition assures about the respective increase by X percent. However, after the outright rejection of more than 8,000 amendments submitted by the opposition to the draft budget law, the issue is sent to the Constitutional Court, which says that freezing is as constitutional in the summer as it is during winter. Then the fierce monologue presented as a debate continues unabated, on a different ground.

The latest battlefield is the new draft law of the Health System, conceived by a junior party of the ruling coalition, whose member the acting Health minister is. A minister that is (in)famous for closing many hospitals all over the country, except for the region he comes from. Anti-Romanian discrimination? So what?! Discrimination on social criteria, against the 42 pc of Romanians living in rural areas, which are now the first to feel the effects of co-payment in the Health system? So what?! The only thing which matters is that everybody accuses, although nobody hears these accusations, not even – sometimes – those that launch them. The specialists of the Health system accuse not being consulted over the reforms. Those that were wronged by the measures accuse in their turn. The supposed beneficiaries of these measures accuse they are offered too little for their money. Even the Health Ministry accuses that the bulk of the 4 pc of the GDP allotted to the sector in 2012 will be used to pay arrears, instead of financing the current needs of system.

Politicians, especially, rulers and even those belonging to the same ministry, plus trade unions, employers’ organisations etc. talk and talk again, boast their respective achievements or accuse each other, but nobody actually communicates with the discussion partner. Sometimes they even stop communicating with themselves and describe as serious mistakes their own promises or the commitments they made in the past, at the precise moment when their opponents have – in their turn – reversed their opinions. This burlesque “vice-versa” is the first tragicomic symbol of a lack of communication that widens and aggravates the generalised crisis in Romania.

We thus live in a society where each real, virtual, even dissimulated politician (such as certain trade union leaders that dream about joining the ranks of the power) says whatever he pleases, as he please, when he pleases, ignoring the basics of communication, message, solidarity, even national interest. It is like a perpetual monologue in Babylon, in which every “main actor” believes he deserves anything, because he is “everybody’s messenger” or, at least, the only hero that can save the town. Individualism pushed to the absurd, like in a huge Hyde Park floating in a happy carelessness, populated by happy caricatures. Why so happy?

The latest proof of this state of facts is the probe that targets the ‘Jean Monnet’ high-school of Bucharest, these very days. Here, like in many other cases, pupils skip classes and spend their nights in bars and clubs, which are preferred over classrooms, laboratories or libraries. They post their indecent pictures on the internet – porn sites or their own blogs – and this is the only pride for some of them. What is the explanation of this moral collapse? Is it the example given by the quasi-illiterates that made it to the top of richest Romanians? Of course, but there is also the lack of dialogue between teachers and pupils, even between different teachers. Where are the traditional scientific seminars and congresses of the past, the meetings of educators and teachers? The absence of a substantial dialogue multiplies the mistrust, indifference, hostility, even the violence present in schools.

The drama represented by the lack of communication is fueled at an even higher extent by the decline of the alliance between school and family. And how could the outcome be different when school and family cede their formative role to the computer?! This magnificent instrument, with so many benefits, is however inappropriate for cultivating the dialogue and debate, for initiating the young human being in the mysteries of self-improvement. The “distant education” formula amply illustrates this drama. In order to attract more students, and thus maximise their profit, some universities favour this formula that allows students to pass their exams online, simply by checking one of the 3 or 4 boxes displayed on screen. What kind of dialogue can we find here? Where are the arguments, where are the arguments brought by the student in support of his opinion? Where is the interrogative or conclusive intervention of the examiner, which is replaced by… a computer screen? This is the source of the syndrome of useless diplomas and fortuitous unemployment.

And this is also a source of the drama that affects so many youths, unable even to communicate with themselves. Introspection, as prerequisite to communication, has a strictly individual and intimate character, which is exteriorised through spoken or written reflection. From this perspective, the fortuitous agreement between school and family about not asking pupils to do homework – not even to read books – during holidays illustrates the degree of alienation of the two correlative factors.

When cumulated, all these setbacks amplify the drama represented by mistrust and the lack of communication and human solidarity.

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