I’m a European Union citizen born in Romania, a middle sized country from the former Soviet block, with a complicated political history, an emergent cultural scene, a German descent President and an appetence for corruption. I’ve been lucky enough to experience life in many other countries due to the nature of my work and I take pride in my Romanian counterparts who have made an effort for this society to thrive better. I consider myself a citizen of the world and I still think I could escape this place if and before things become really messy. But here’s the catch.
Last night, my country’s government passed a law proposal to pardon thousands of prisoners, a move which has led to massive protests. The proposal, which passed in the early hours of February 1st, aims to exempt from prison and punishment severe cases of corruption and fraud. It also conveyed that all cases of fraud below 45.000 Euros would go unpunished. Critics state this measure could reverse anti-corruption efforts and ultimately lead to the release of over 2,500 prisoners. It would primarily affect people serving sentences of less than five years, except those convicted of sexual or violent crimes.
With its current frail and unprepared system to reintegrate ex convicts into society and prevent them from relapse, the proposal presents great danger for increased criminality and abominable fraud. The proposal could benefit party allies convicted of corruption including the chairman of the ruling Social Democratic Party, who was handed a two-year suspended prison sentence for vote-rigging in April 2016, which bans him from being prime minister.
For the first time in 27 years more than 15.000 people marched on the streets to protest across Romania since the 1989 revolution that marked the fall of communism. The very same year, the Berlin wall fell down.
Simultaneously, in a not very far away part of the world, Donald Trump muses to build a new one. Also, he placed a ban on immigrants, reinstated the global gag rule and is feared to bring Western civilization on the brim of a possible third world war. What we most likely fail to acknowledge when we say those words is that war IS happening around the world and it carries with it all the combined damages underneath which a so called third world struggles to breathe.
Alike Trump, Brexit also came as shock for those who believed until the last second it won’t happen.
2015 and 2016 took devastating spin offs with multiple terrorist attacks around Europe, while the Middle East literally burns out from the planet.
History has demonstrated all great transformations have been achieved through protest. In other words, miracles sometimes happen when you’re around.
In my language, there’s a saying that criticizes ignorance: “When the country’s burning, the old lady combs her hair.”
When your country’s burning, wherever you are, remember to stay informed, strong and united in the face of danger.
This is for everyone who feels their country’s politics are a threat to its citizens. By citizens I don’t mean just the ones who were born there or have ultimately gained citizenship. This is about all the hardworking people who put a brick to the construction of any given functional society.
This is not about your country or my country. It’s not about us and them. This is a time for thorough meditation and thoughtful action towards progressive change for the better.
This is for all the people who voted pro Brexit without assuming the consequences.
This goes to all the women who marched pro choice in The United States and for those who managed to cancel the proposal to forbid abortion in Poland.
This is also for all the people in my country who refused to vote, march or to take a stand regarding their own future. We all still have a chance to do it now.
I marched for a lot of things in my short life so far. I stubbornly marched for LGBT rights, I marched for a different breed of a president, I marched for better legislation, and when I couldn’t or didn’t gather the courage to do so, I made an effort to write, communicate and address the heart of the matters so that others can share and propel the information.
So wherever you are, whatever your sorrow may be, I urge you to hold hands with your people and march.
Don’t march AGAINST something or someone. This mindset is in itself more dangerous than the reason that had you marching in first place. It harvests hatred and fear, the two bricks abuse and corruption thrive on. Instead, march FOR the people and things you care about.
March for someone who can teach love and kindness. March for someone who knows empathy is not just a word used in psychology but an entire school of thought. March for someone whose actions don’t make you feel ashamed of the country you live in. March for someone who fights crime and who brings peace.
March for someone who knows the difference between right or wrong, even if justice is blind. March for someone who doesn’t make you want to leave your present life behind. March for someone who doesn’t steal from the rich to give to the richer. Alas, March for someone who knows rape is NOT a beauty mark. March for someone who puts faith above religion. March for someone who will make laws where you don’t get fired, beaten or murdered because of your sexual orientation.
March for someone who will stand up for you when you felt stood up by everything else in life. March for someone who loves children enough to build a safe future for them. March for someone who pays attention to money in a way that doesn’t leave you broken, worried or hungry each day. March for someone you can swear by, and if all the above fail you, then, please, march for yourself.
Human race has won through protest, reads this poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox from 1914 which was highly mediatised today. And so, I will leave it here for everyone who who’s afraid, who’s angry and fed up with tolerating policies that mistreat them, for everyone who needs the courage to take a stand and make their voice heard:
To sin by silence, when we should protest,
Makes cowards out of men. The human race
Has climbed on protest. Had no voice been raised
Against injustice, ignorance, and lust,
The inquisition yet would serve the law,
And guillotines decide our least disputes.
The few who dare, must speak and speak again
To right the wrongs of many. Speech, thank God,
No vested power in this great day and land
Can gag or throttle. Press and voice may cry
Loud disapproval of existing ills;
May criticise oppression and condemn
The lawlessness of wealth-protecting laws
That let the children and childbearers toil
To purchase ease for idle millionaires.
Therefore I do protest against the boast
Of independence in this mighty land.
Call no chain strong, which holds one rusted link.
Call no land free, that holds one fettered slave.
Until the manacled slim wrists of babes
Are loosed to toss in childish sport and glee,
Until the mother bears no burden, save
The precious one beneath her heart, until
God’s soil is rescued from the clutch of greed
And given back to labor, let no man
Call this the land of freedom.
It is important that we don’t stay silent and in apathy now.