It did not surprise me when she turned away on the subway. Once we were friends or at least I thought so. Now many of them have turned their backs on me. She bent over her child in the stroller and kept ignoring me, although I was just a few seats away and we saw each other. I no longer had the motivation to stand up and explain the truth. Peace had already descended on me. I followed the easy steps to calm down: breathe in, breathe out. Friends are friends only until they start judging you – I told myself.
|Hungary – Lake Balaton – Paulo Ferreira|
There is a path in life to be followed, according to society. We finish our studies somewhere between the ages of 18 and 24; we start working and piling up money; we try out different professions and different relationships. Around the age of 30 women get annoyed by the question of when they will finally find the father of their future children. If you are a man, your father and uncles start joking about self-sacrificing wives or their opposite, feminists, then promote the institution of marriage even if they are unhappy with the constraints of it, for example, shared finances or staying together only for the sake of the kids.
|Budapest, Hungary – Liberty Bridge – Daniel Olah|
So by the time we are 33, we ticked all the needed boxes on the imaginary list:
A degree – check
A high-paying job with a year-end bonus and allowances that make friends jealous – check
An apartment or house bought with a mortgage – check
A partner whom we plan to stay with forever – check
And 1, 2, 3 children.
We are ready for a happy life. Now we are the stars among our friends; many say how lucky we are to have finally found the right partner, a stable job, and how happy our family life is. Our partnership becomes more envied once offspring populate the home.
|Gyor, Hungary – On Baross Gabor street – Dante Visual|
Mothers usually change their circle of friends to those who are mothers themselves. The topics to discuss will change immediately as well: what was the first/second birth like, what does the newborn eat, how do the kids sleep, and oh, whose baby is cuter.
Fathers will not distance themselves from old friends so abruptly. There is no competition among men regarding family as there is among women.
Probably outsiders who do not have a similar relationship and lifestyle to ours will drop out by themselves within a few months after the first child. Are they jealous? Sad about their status in the competition of “maturity”? Or do people change in personality as they start taking care of their children?
|Budapest, Hungary – Food festival – Stanislav Rabunski|
Let’s jump a few years ahead.
The star parents are 35, the daughter is 4 and the boy has just started walking. Dad has succeeded at work and been promoted. Mom is thinking about looking for a part-time job because she needs some more company and a change of environment from constantly being at home.
There are garden parties every month; some old friends have reached the maturity level to be able to spend time with us again. We smile, you smile, we like you, you like us. This is a textbook case of a happy life, right? Facebook is the place where we can find millions of happy family pictures. As if there were no bad days or anxiety in the background. Many use social media to present themselves as stars. The best mother. The cutest baby, etc.
|Szeged, Hungary – After the rain – Dante Visual|
And then, the mother calls her best friend at nine in the evening. She is sobbing uncontrollably; her words can hardly be understood. It turns out the father left her and the kids.
What would a best friend do in such a case? Provide a shoulder to cry on, lend an ear to her. In the first instance everyone would comfort the forsaken one, right? Most of us stand on the side of the person left behind (regardless of their gender) and urge friends to accompany the victim in the crusade against the violator of the peace within the family.
But, there are questions looming in the background. What happened? What led to the breakup of the ‘holy’ family? What measures were taken to avoid the fall? Can the separation be blamed on only one person? Do we have to agree with everything the mother slanders the ‘traitor’ with? These questions are forgotten as soon as we let our minds be overrun by our emotions: “If the trophy mom has just been left, it might happen to us soon as well! We must support her!” Most people would follow such a line of thought instinctively. Fear influences and rules our daily lives.
|Hungary – Above from below – Szabina Gerencser|
Friends of the mother only hear her story and are not interested in the father’s version. It is very rare that we confront those close to us by explaining that there are two sides to the same coin. And it is fairly uncommon for friends to learn the story from both sides. It is highly questionable whether people have enough information to know the factual reasons for the breakup.
When a family falls apart, all the members need to adjust their lives. Friends take sides or they don’t, and just gradually disappear.
We, the outsiders… do we have the right to judge? Do we want to judge? Are we sure that if the same thing happened to us in the future, we would still be thinking the same way? Or are we only quick to give an opinion because it does not affect us personally… yet?
Before we take sides next time, let’s have a moment of silence and think the situation over. In all likelihood, the best thing to do is simply to listen. Our remarks would just confuse our friend who has enough thoughts to deal with.
|Hungary – Cranes – Zdeněk Macháček|
I sat there and buried my head in the newspapers till we reached my stop. I stood up and nodded her way, wished her all the best in my mind. Wishing bad luck to others is not my style, everyone has highs and lows. I just would like people to not be so judgmental. Life is a complex matter. There is no such thing as good or bad. It’s all based on our values. We all try to live the best we can imagine in a given situation. And we cannot entirely understand the reasons or the motives of another person. Everyone has their own unique background, with different motivations, set of emotions and triggers.
Snapshot 1: Budapest, Hungary – Hortobágy, Maďarsko – Zdeněk Macháček (Unsplash)
Snapshot 2: Hungary – Lake Balaton – Paulo Ferreira (Unsplash)
Snapshot 3: Budapest, Hungary – Liberty Bridge – Daniel Olah (Unsplash)
Snapshot 4: Gyor, Hungary – On Baross Gabor street – Dante Visual (Shutterstock)
Snapshot 5: Budapest, Hungary – Food festival – Stanislav Rabunski (Unsplash)
Snapshot 6: Szeged, Hungary – After the rain – Dante Visual (Shutterstock)
Snapshot 7: Hungary – Above from below – Szabina Gerencser (Unsplash)
Snapshot 8: Hungary – Cranes – Zdeněk Macháček (Unsplash)
Cinemblem voiceover: Nathan Jackson
Cinemblem: Perypatetik youtube channel
The Syncretion of Polarization and Extremes
Ahmed, Amina. Growing up with Abuse: A Life of Extremes – Lebanon. April 2019.
Alencar, Joana. Lack of Social Trust – Brazil. January 2019.
Antonyan, Hayk. Polarization Does Not Equal Extreme – Armenia. September 2019.
Awdejuk, Pawel. Pole-arization – Poland. June 2019.
Awuah, Kwasi Amankwah. The Family: Bringing Us Together, Tearing Us Apart – Ghana. November 2019.
Baccino, Alejandra. Polarization within Ourselves – South America. January 2019.
Bondarenko, Evgeny. What You Sow Does Not Come To Life Unless It Dies – Ukraine. May 2019.
Butt, Kashif. Shrinking Space for Dialog – Pakistan. October 2019.
Cannarella, Daniela. A Past-Present Dicotomia – Italy. June 2019.
Casas, Marilin Guerrero Casas. Balance – Cuba. May 2019.
Cordido, Veronica. Hanging by Extremes – Venezuela. January 2019.
Corzo, Martha. The Struggle for the Working Class. December 2019.
Dastan, S.A. Polarization and the Epidemic of Extremity – Turkey. August 2019.
Deiana, Sarah. The Unbearable Weight of Being a Woman – Italy. September 2019.
Escandell, Andrea da Silva. The Illogic of Extremes – Uruguay. May 2019.
Escobar, Christian. Between the Sky and the Earth: Looking for Love – Columbia. October 2019.
Gomez, Javier. The Canyon Inside Us – Argentina. July 2019.
Hernandez, Jonay Quintero. Extremism Is Now the New Hype? – Spain. February 2019.
Husseini, Maha. Bilingual Par Excellence – Canada. August 2019.
Israyelyan, Mania. Polarized Within Ourselves – Armenia. June 2019.
Julber, Lillian. Difficult to Understand – Uruguay. July 2019.
Kanunova, Nigina. Role of Polarization in the Life of an Individual and Society – Tajikistan. July 2019.
López, Virginia Sanmartín. Why Live on an Edge? – Spain. August 2019.
Milivojevic, Stevan. Polarizing LGBTIQ Life – Croatia. November 2019.
Montano, Osvaldo. Progress in the Face of Polarization – Bolivia. February 2019.
Mwangi, Kenn. Religious Extremity and Exploitation – Kenya. October 2019.
Pavicevic, Nikolina. The Law of Silence – Montenegro. September 2019.
Protić, Aleksandar. Linguistic Balkanization as a Means of Polarization – The Balkans. June 2019.
Ranaldo, Mary. Social Polarization – Italy. April 2019.
Ray, Sanjay Kumar. At the Crossroads – India. August 2019.
Romano, Mavi. Censorship and Cultural Survival in a World without Gods – Spain. January 2019.
Çakir, Peren. Needing a Sustainable Future in the Midst of Political Polarization – Argentina and Turkey. September 2019.
Sariñana, Alejandra Gonzalez. Student Movements – Mexico. March 2019.
Sekulić, Jelena. The Polarizacija of Serbian Culture – Serbia. June 2019.
Sem, Sebastião. Brandos Costumes – Portugal. July 2019.
Sepi, Andreea. A World of Victims and Perpetrators? – Germany and Romania. February 2019.
Sevunts, Nane. The Era To Close – Armenia. March 2019.
Stotts, Talia. A Polarization of Family Values – America. November 2019.
Tammpuu, Mari. Thoughts of Two Generations – Polar Opposites? – Estonia. November 2019.[De Los] Santos, Aura. Social Polarization – Dominican Republic. November 2019.
Skobic, Alexandar. The Loss of Identity – The Balkans. April 2019.
Sitorus, Rina. Polarization in Politics: All a Cebong or Kampret – Indonesia. March 2019.
Spirito, Julieta. A Thought about Polarized Insecurity – Argentina. April 2019.
Uusitalo, Kristin. There’s No Justice, Just Us – Philippines. December 2019.
Valenzuela, Monica. Adults and Children – Peru. April 2019.
Vuka. Extreme Immunity to Functional Tax and Judicial System – Serbia. March 2019
Wallis, Toni. Walls and Resettlement – South Africa and Angola. February 2019.
Williams, Jazz Carl. Unfinished Episodes – Spain. May 2019.
Zakharova, Anastasiya. Feminism – Russia. August 2019.
CW 52 – Montenegro – Ana Boricic
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed