I have started a new book. It is about 850 pages long, the font is point 9 and it is about post-war Europe. I am on page 25 and so far so good. In two years you can ask me which page I am on.
The book starts by outlining Europe in the days, weeks and months after WWII ended. Ruins. Ruined buildings. Ruined lives. Ruined dreams. I guess I have never thought much about the post war. Just the horrors of the war itself. But while reading this book I have realized that the war went on for years after it actually ended.
Then the Red Army entered. It must have been much like swimming in the North Sea at winter, knowing you most likely will drown. You are slowly sinking, but then you see a ship and you think that you are rescued. The ship comes closer, and when the people on the ship see you they use a long pole and push you even deeper down in the water than you already were. That was the Red Army. You survived the Nazis, now try to see if you can survive us too. He-he.
In reading I have felt a sense of awe. It’s a miracle that anybody lived. It’s a miracle that people did not just pick up their hats and jumped in front of a train. Goodbye cruel world.
But, look at Europe now. The people rose up and kept on fighting. Some gave up after they got whacked in the head by the pole, but others just kept on swimming.
As in the rest of the world, there is a huge difference in the standards of living in the different European countries. I am ashamed to say that I think that we are so prosperous in Norway because we somehow deserve it. Nothing in the world could be further from the truth (except, maybe, that Coke will make you athletic). There are days when I (blush, blush) look down on people from Eastern Europe for example, and even the people from Finland if it is that kind of a day. I feel so superior here in Norway with all our oil and gas and highly educated individuals and a social welfare system to die for.
But, we were handed our welfare on a gold platter. That is the simple fact. OK, the Nazis destroyed our country and held us in bondage for five years too. That took it’s toll and my grandparents and parents toiled to rebuild the country again. The pain suffered was immense. But at least we did not have the Red Army come and pillage, rape and destroy as soon as the Nazis left. We were left alone to rebuild. At least we did not become the slaves to a regime that didn’t allow people to think free thoughts, much less feed their children decent meals at decent times.
That is what happened in Poland for example.
That the Poles are able to thrive in their country that has suffered so much is a miracle if I ever heard of one. Whenever there was a war, Poland seemed to be right in the middle of it. For ages. And now, here they are, trying to make the best out of life. And succeeding. There are some obstacles to overcome, sure. But they are making it. They are rebuilding and making some remarkable steps forward.
It may me think of one of the silliest, lamest, dumbest rituals in a lot of Western school systems: The honor roll. The award ceremonies. The time when the Oh, so perfect kids get to come and receive and award for being Oh, so good. A kid whose parents are well-educated and wealthy, who has had a stable upbringing and private math tutoring, who has slept well and eaten right get all As. Big, flippin’ deal! What about the kid whose parents are alcoholics, who live in a low-income neighborhood and eat McDonalds, who have no warm clothes and watch the neighbors fight? If that kid even manage to get out of bed and to school every day it is an accomplishment. And if he manages to get any grades above a C, it is a miracle. That is the kid that needs an award. Not the spoiled all straight As kid.
You know that I mean, right? What I mean is that Poland needs an award simply for still existing after all this suffering and oppression. Same with the Czech Republic and Estonia and a bunch of other countries who have had the same kinds of issues as the kid with alcoholic parents.
What I mean is that we are so quick to label people, countries, dogs and whatevers as successes or failures when we don’t know the whole story. We are so quick to judge when we don’t know the whole story.
I think this blog is an encouragement to get to know the whole story.