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April 12, 2021

Normality in Romania. Proceed with caution!

Romanians are natural born skeptics; whenever something good, fair, normal happens to them, they try to find out „what is the trick?”. Even when one explains or proves to them that there is no trick, they keep on examining the situation with skepticism, convinced that something is rotten somewhere in the deep. Misinterpreting Eugene Ionesco, the Romania-based writer who had said that „living is abnormal”, when life occurs in Romanian the abnormality reaches peaks that stir the astonishment of foreigners visiting us and the amazement of psychologists.

Yet, we, regular Romanians, in our weirdness, are unable to perceive this state of fact. Abnormality is so entwined in our DNA spiral and has so thoroughly captured in its tentacles our minds, weakened by Communism and by the chaotic democracy of the past 25 years, that our system of values has become identical to the horizon of a horse wearing glasses. In Romania, abnormality is at home; it is just as tangible as the handrail in the bus we are hanging to for our own rescue, as we have no other support during the jerked travel until the first stop; yet, it is a stop we are unaware of, either.

Today, things in Romania are returning to normal and taking us by surprise. The wave of arrests and convictions of corrupt persons and the events on the political stage startle us. We do not know how to react. Are we supposed to enjoy it or what? Something normal happens, there is a play about life as it is supposed to be, in front of our eyes there are actors behaving naturally for their roles and we find all of it abnormal. We are waiting at any time that the course of action would twist 180 de degrees, and actors would jump to each other’s necks, to tear their costumes, to strangle each other with their ties, to punch each other in the face and start swearing. Although we do not want this to happen actually. The natural co-habitation between Klaus Iohannis and Victor Ponta, between the President of the country and the Prime Minister, the focus on work that dominates ther relation, the calm of the new Head of the State who concisely and concretely speaks to us about fair relations, about how politics is not supposed to interfere in justice, about freedom of expression in the press and about „German” organization completely blows our minds.

Accustomed to media freakshows, to the circus made by former President Traian Basescu whenever he had the chance, to the constant fights and acid verbal combats of him and PM Ponta, Romanians seem at a loss. Something is weird in Romania. Something normal is happening, and we are not familiar with this „normal”. It has a taste we never experienced before. Even journalists, hardened in the fire of perpetual scandal in the last quarter of a century, are taken aback. Meetings start without any delays, „no comment” means „no comment”, „closed doors” are „closed doors”, biased information leaks have visibly diminished and press statements are indeed press statements, not a prelude to onctuos accusations and insults.

This reality forces us to face a dilemma – we find ourselves disappointed, dissatisfied with the present state of fact, although it is a normality we have always wanted. We might say, without any hesitatio, that Romanians do not know what they actually want, that they are discontent even when being offered good and fair things, that when normality enters their life they are unable to acknowledge and appreciate it and kick it out the door because they do not understand it. Yet, at the recent presidential elections, Romanians proved in a completely abnormal way – obviously! – that they desire normality, that they yearn for it although,paradoxically, they do not know how it looks like. They caught the idea in foreign films, they heard about it on the news, they witnessed it in other countries they had moved to for a while, but they never experienced it in Romania, this much too troubled country in a continuous reform and under permanent construction, just like a poorly organized building yard where nobody knows their tasks in the absence of a leading architect endowed with a clear vision and a solid plan. Romanians wish to live in a country where the President makes no scandal on TV, insults no journalists in the parking lots of malls, avoids challenging his political contesters with increasingly explicit nicknames, never slaps children for saying profanities to him, never attacks the press, never issues threats and does not interfere in the activity of justice.

It was no accident that the result of the elections was determined by Romanians of the Diaspora. They have tasted normality, they have experienced it and enjoyed it. So that they crowded, in a completely abnormal manner – how else, once again? – the place the stamp on the option that was closest to what they wished to see in their own home country, so that they could return and live… normally.

Just like an organism struggling to adapt its reactions to a new life environment, Romanians are now going through a stage of adaptation to normality. Day by day, they learn to make their first steps, still shaken but increasingly firm, towards normality. It all depends though on the stability of this new environment.




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