Every nation has its own peculiar and particular attitude to life. Some countries thrive on success, competition and energy whereas others flourish on an atmosphere of sadness, mourning and defeat.
Unfortunately, Poland can be classed as one of the latter. This dark conclusion is not difficult to come to. It is enough to take a look at the history and politics of several European countries and undertake a short comparative analysis.
Great Britain, for example, has a long tradition of honouring victory, glory and being the best. Polish culture, on the other hand, glorifies honour, defeat (& honour in defeat) and grief. The two cultures could not be more different. I am convinced that the success-oriented or defeatist attitude of a country plays an integral part in a country’s development.
With PiS coming to power, the Polish government has avidly backed any outpouring of national grief. So much so that the President/PM (they are one in the same) has announced TWO days of National Mourning (see previous post). Somehow, I cannot see the UK announcing a National Day of Mourning every time a coachful of people or group of miners die.
It is not that I do not feel sorry for the families of those who died in the recent coach crash in Grenoble or the families of the miners in the Halemba coal mine, but a National Day of Mourning should be something that actually touches everyone in the country and not a feeling that is forced upon the nation. Let us mourn the death of a statesman, a leader but why eulogise the errors and carelessness of others?
Poland has its fair share of honours throughout its history. So why do Polish people immerse themselves in the negative rather than the positive? The Poles should be honouring those great achievements like the birth of Nicolaus Copernicus (aka Mikołaj Kopernik) or the fact that people like Lech Wałęsa, Czesław Miłosz and Wisława Szymborska have all won the Nobel Prize. Imagine a country that had a Marie-Curie Skłodowska Day or a Frédéric (Fryderyk) Chopin Day or even a Stanisław Lem Day? Whatever your political allegiances, you cannot argue with the fact that these individuals have changed the world in which we live.
Defeatist Roll Call
Instead, Poland has a public holiday to commemorate the Warsaw Uprising which was a military disaster and complete failure. Poland also honours the failed Third of May Constitution which, although being an amazing landmark in the history of democracy, came to nothing and heralded the end of Poland as a state for 123 years. I will not be surprised if the Katyń Massacre becomes a sacred state holiday in the years to come. We also should not forget the honour that surrounds All Saint’s Day (see previous post).
Time for Change
It really is time for Poland to embrace all its successes and glory days. This does not entail a headlong charge towards bigotry and right-wing patriotism (although it never harmed the British cause), but it does mean that the Mea Culpa attitude should be supplanted with an atmosphere of success and forward thinking.