Are People Here Cynical Or Realistic?

Total Croatia News

My grandma was born in Antunovac and lived the majority of her life in Vrhovec. These are two neighbouring uphill roads of Zagreb. She was born in 1918 and lived to be 97 years old. During ”her century” she changed many different states, without moving at all.

First, there was Austro-Hungary. She was just a newborn when the empire collapsed in the Great War. Then the short-lived state of the Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs, that joined the newly formed Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. The Serbian dynasty-ruled kingdom later changed its name to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

The Second World War created more pain and misery. My grandma, who had then just started studying law, experienced living in the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), which was eventually brought down by the Partisan movement that would create Communist, and later Socialist Yugoslavia, under Marshall Tito.

And in the last decade of the third millennium, the third war destroyed Yugoslavia, and the Republic of Croatia was born. My grandma witnessed Croatia joining the European Union before she passed away, making it almost six different countries in which she had lived without ever moving.

She was an educated and sharp woman who created an impressive career, all while being a single mother. In front of me, she was always an optimist and I never heard her being pessimistic, but she didn’t really have much trust in many things.

She had faith in people and democracy, the Creator and empathy, but that’s where it stopped. She never trusted kings and queens, monarchies seems like an insult to her. Fascism was pure horror, and Communism used fear. The media was always someones propaganda, banks were never your friendsindustry was corrupt, empires call themselves ”democratic” while dictatorships prefer ”patriotic”. She considered herself a realist.

These are the things I hear a lot in Croatia, and I always think they sound too harsh, too desperate, too cynical. But maybe, that’s not such a bad thing. If this type of ”realistic” approach comes from experience, then it can be used. If we really tried socialism, fascism, royalism, communism, capitalism, and democracy, we have a unique experience that could be analysed, studied, and then used to our advantage. Experience is all about picking and choosing.

For most of us, looking back at the past sounds too grim, but looking into the future doesn’t sound any better, either. But maybe, using our grim history can help us create a brighter future. We should look for things that worked and not focus only on the mistakes. What were the policies that helped the people, what were the freedoms that emancipated them? Are there old remedies for new problems, and creative solutions that we’ve forgotten?

Every country that came, wanted to erase the previous one. We lost a lot of knowledge in that process. Gave away a lot of our culture. Ignored some of our finest people. We shouldn’t play with peoples pasts or involve todays politics in history, but if we claim that our cynicism comes from experience, then we should act like a knowledgeable nation. We’d construct a new system that way. Being a realist doesn’t excuse you being passive. Understanding that there is no ”perfect world” makes you more able to deal with problems, and the feeling that most of the people around you are sheep, gives you a choice.

You can be the wolf, or you can be the shepherd.


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