The other day, in talking with The Woman’s parents, they began to lecture me on how things were in the Communist days. Out of respect, I listened attentively and said nothing in disagreement. But the truth is that I’ve heard every word before (sometimes almost identically) from many other people, many times before.
I’ve referred to this as the “narrative” before but in my own mind, I call it The Script, which simultaneously refers to this as well as this, the lines spoken aloud by actors in a play. Regardless of which definition you use, the results are the same – people repeat things they’ve heard from others a million times before.
The Romanian Script on Communist days: we had to wait in long lines, products were hard to get, food was rationed and to get X product you had to “know” people and/or go to extreme lengths to obtain it.
The Romanian Script on “Iarba Verde”: it’s a good thing to breathe fresh air and get out of the city once in a while.
The Romanian Script on the word “dor“: it’s a special word that has such a depth of meaning that it can never be translated properly into other languages.
And so on and so forth. Once you know The Script in any given situation, it’s ridiculously easy to parrot it back to someone and then they suddenly believe you’re a “good person” who believes the right thing.
The other day, two members of the 2010 champions of missionary tenacity rang my doorbell and started their pitch with, “Cu siguranta sunteti crestin…” (assuredly you are Christian), to which I replied, “De unde aveti sa sti?” (How in the world do you know that?).
I’m not picking on The Woman’s parents any more than I am the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who are simply repeating the same Script that everyone in this country learns. Nor is this phenomenon restricted to Romania. Just as I suspected, in the last 24 hours there has been an explosion in the use of a euphemism I particularly loathe in the American media.
Sometimes The Script is “correct”, in the sense that yes some fresh air is good for people and yes, people had to wait in lines during the Communist era. Just as I have repeatedly mentioned in the comments section, yes it’s true that the government imposed a tax on “witches” but what irked me was The Script – it’s more of the same old tired bullsh*t. The story was only repeated a million times because it titillated the superiority of “western” readers and not because it was in any way real “news”.
My point is not that the Script is right in certain situations or wrong in others but simply that I am surrounded by millions of people who read their lines on a daily basis like actors in a play.
Are those really your thoughts? Did you spend time thinking about this and come to your own conclusion? Did you spend even five seconds pausing to think about what your own inductive reasoning has informed you or are you just going “by instinct” and repeating The Script?
Again, not picking on anyone, but the other day I wrote about “pup” as a noun. I even linked to the DEX entry of the word. And yet I got half a dozen messages saying “hey that’s not a word!”
It’s in the dictionary. If I’m wrong then the DEX is also wrong. I certainly appreciate all the times when people correct my (many) mistakes in Romanian but in this case what happened was people said “hey I’ve never heard of the word, therefore it must not exist!” instead of just clicking on the link and seeing what the situation is.
Romanians are sorely lacking in the practice of inductive reasoning, where you (the individual!) looks at the information coming at you from the outside world and apply your own senses and brainpower and come to your own conclusions.
If I had 1 leu for every time a Romanian person has told me, “I saw X story on the news” and I replied, “And what’s your opinion of that?” and they look at me stunned, frozen like a deer in the headlights, well then I’d be sailing around the Black Sea in my own personal yacht by now ;)
I think one of the reasons my writings appeal to Romanians is precisely because I didn’t grow up with The Romanian Script. I walk around every day deciding my own opinion and take on things and am (thankfully) unhindered by family and friends constantly repeating things ad nauseum that they’ve heard a million times before and never once paused to think about for themselves.
If The Script was working well and people in this country were largely happy and satisfied with their lives then I wouldn’t dare to say a word, even if I disagreed with it. If Romanian parents want to pierce their baby girls’ ears (a practice I find abhorrent) but it makes them happy then I’m all for it.
The problem here, of course, is that Romanians aren’t happy. Just about every day I walk around this city and look at the faces of the people passing by me, either on foot or driving their cars. Very few of them look happy and most of them look either stressed and/or anguished. It’s quite dispiriting at times.
As I’ve stated, one of the motivations for me in writing my book and this site (and my future TV show) is precisely to Flip the Script, a euphemism I normally dislike but is nonetheless appropriate. I look at things with a different perspective and I know that other perspectives (other “Scripts” if you will) are ultimately more rewarding for all of us.
Literally tens of thousands of Romanians (and quite a few resident foreigners) participated in Let’s Do It and came away immensely satisfied and enthusiastic. It was a real, actual, physical, tangible thing that real, actual, physical people did and all the Zosos of the world sitting at home with their tired old Script were largely left behind.
A Romania, run by Romanians (no more Turks, Soviets or Hungarians to blame), including all those gypsies, orphans, bears, witches, priests and the rest, done in such a way that people enjoy living here and want to remain here (and not long for riches abroad) is a worthwhile goal. I think it is and that’s why I’ve staked my name and career on it.
If you’re Romanian and want to do something truly revolutionary today – try thinking for yourself. Take a moment and stop reacting and just pause to think.
Ask yourself what you personally think about something. Watch the news and decide for yourself if it’s sensational, or newsworthy, or even factually accurate. Listen to your friend tell you a “Ion si Maria” joke and then decide for yourself if the implicit misogyny is really all that funny after all.
It’s perfectly okay to agree with The Script – as long as you yourself have thought about it and come to that conclusion on your own. That’s why I never censor comments on here that disagree with me – I want to hear your own opinion, your thoughts, your perspective on things. All I’m asking is that it be your opinion and not the tired repetition of The Script.
As for me and my own personal Script?
O ROMANIE FRUMOASA E SARCINA TUTUROR