Guest writer Ronnie Smith attends a Romanian group meeting abroad and makes some notes about taking personal responsibility and living in denial.
On a recent visit to another city I was fortunate enough to attend a meeting of Romanian expat medical professionals who, quite sensibly, had formed an association. They were, as I expected, a group of intelligent, educated, warm human beings and I spent two very happy and interesting hours in their company. However, two things particularly struck me during the formal proceedings and made me feel that I hadn’t actually left Bucharest.
The first was that, after two years of meetings and endless unstructured discussion, the association was still trying to figure out what it was for and what it should do. A microphone was passed around, allowing motivated individuals to talk about their ideas for the future of the organization. Quite often it was taken from the speaker in mid-sentence by someone who had spent too long not speaking. A gentle chaos infiltrated the proceedings as the speeches ranged far and wide, without either an agenda, a sense of focus or a chairman elected to get a grip on things. Meanwhile the less verbose sat staring down at the floor with their heads in their hands or up at the ceiling, with glazed eyes.
Of course no conclusion was reached. Those who needed to, gave vent to whatever was going on in their heads at that moment. I realized that I could return in two years’ time knowing that there would still be no agreement on the purpose of this fine association of people, other than to regularly discuss their purpose.
The second moment of clarity arrived when one of the speakers proposed that the Association contact the government of their adopted country to insist that it offer Romania payment for their being abroad. The reasoning behind this idea was simple. The Romanian state had spent a great deal of money on educating and training these professionals but that investment was being deployed in the service of another country. Surely, their hosts should compensate the Romanian state?
I thought about this for a moment and considered its implications from the standpoint of social psychology.
None of the people present had been kidnapped by their adopted country and forced to work in its hospitals. Indeed they all looked to be doing rather well, having taken sensible decisions to follow their professional careers in a more comfortable and lucrative environment. Their children were attending good schools and their standard of living was consistently higher than it would have been had they stayed in Romania. If anything it is they, as individuals, who should consider compensating the Romanian state for making it possible for them to acquire the knowledge and skills that are in such demand around the world.
It occurred to me that the speaker genuinely felt that his living abroad was something that had been forced on him, that it was not fundamentally his decision and that any compensation that might be due to Romania should certainly not be paid by him. He seemed to take no responsibility for his circumstances whatsoever, being in his new country was someone else’s fault.
Now, if a man as educated and mature as the speaker, on this occasion, could create such a chimera of denial around himself, then I could begin to understand the general sense of denial that punctuates so many conversations that I have been party to in my Romanian business life.
‘It is NOT my fault…’
‘It is NOT my job…’
‘It is NOT my responsibility…’
See the transformation of these three short statements, of life itself, if ‘NOT’ is removed.
By Ronnie Smith, Guest Writer
Ronnie Smith is Scottish and now lives in Romania, working as a professional training business consultant and communication coach. He is also a teacher of political science, a political and social commentator and a writer of fiction. The views expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Romania Insider.com.
(photo source: Photoxpress.com)