“Well, what can you do?” – she sighed. “That is how this world works.”
“No, it doesn’t,” I muttered. “This world doesn’t work like that. Animals don’t need thick volumes of laws, complex hierarchy, promotions and demotions. Our human world does because we let it. We’re taught to listen to authority, but not to think for ourselves and take responsibility for our actions. We’re taught religion, but not ethics. At every step we are to believe that there is a higher power, who knows better, who can tell us how we should think, act and live our lives.
What can we do? We can think! Think for ourselves. Analyze. Check the sources. Stop blindly believing what bosses, politicians and the media tell us.
Just look at the state of our country at the moment. We celebrate a hundred years of independence this year. But, are we really independent? Or do we simply switch our overlords from time to time? In 1918 we gained freedom from Russia, Austria and Prussia after the Partitions Era. And we had it for twenty years. Then, there was World War II and later we came back under the Russian shoe. In 1989 we got free again – or so they tell us. Because, for a free country, the influence the United States and the European Union have over us is surprisingly big.”
“Hold your horses, Jędrek!” she shouted, laughing. “You’re getting terribly worked up about this. We still have the constitution – and it was the first one created in Europe. We have free elections, free speech, freedom of faith, free courts. Poland is not an authoritarian state.”
“Are you sure we do, Ania?” – I looked at her closely. “You know how the issue of our supreme court was handled. And as for the other freedoms and values our country should represent, I also wouldn’t be so sure.
Think about it. One of the most popular Polish slogans is ‘Bóg, Honor, Ojczyzna’ – ‘God, Honor, Homeland’. But where is God in our modern world? Most of the people don’t study the Bible anymore. They don’t ask questions. They don’t compare scriptures of the Holy Book to teachings of the Church. They just listen to what the priests tell them. And the priests have turned most of what the Bible teaches topsy-turvy. They became politicians and businessmen, not the people of faith. We are supposed to believe in one God, yet we have hundreds of smaller gods, we call saints. We are supposed to reject idolatry, yet we surround ourselves with ‘holy’ images and statues. We shouldn’t use God’s name in vain, yet we do hideous things in His name: we kill, we wage wars, we steal and cheat and treat it as justified because someone told us it was done in the name of God. Often done against members of other faiths. Yes, you’re free to have a faith, but if it isn’t a Catholic one, you’re basically a second-class citizen.
“I disagree.” said Anka defiantly. “Look how many Orthodox churches are there in Białystok. There are even some mosques and synagogues in our region. Podlasie is called a melting pot of cultures!”
“Yeah.” – I smirked mockingly. “It is also called one of the most nationalistic regions in our country. Interesting contrast, don’t you think? Just look at the comments under internet articles regarding Jews, Muslims and Orthodox Church members. Look at all the news of devastation, swastika symbols, right-wing demonstrations. Podlasie indeed is a pot of cultures, but they don’t mix very well.”
“Ok, I guess you’re right,” – she sighed with resignation.
“Let’s get back to our great slogan. Where is honor in modern Poland? Lying is considered normal. Promising something on a ‘word of honor’ means nothing anymore. You need to sign an agreement and write down all the possible issues, so the other party won’t cheat you. And if you are cheated, people often don’t see you as a victim, but as a sucker, who wasn’t careful enough. Look at our company. Or rather ‘your company’, I’m not a part of it anymore.” – I added with a grin.
(…to be continued…)
In the Middle – An International Transposition (Fiction)
Introduction to In the Middle – An International Transposition, edited by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey
January: Forgetting – Turkey, by Seyit Ali Dastan
February: The Unreal in Real – Armenia, by Armine Asryan
March: Catching Water – Argentina, by Javier Gómez
April: Unwanted – South Africa, by Toni Wallis
May: House with a Stucco Ship – Ukraine, by Gennady Bondarenko
June: A Girl Pedaling – Cuba, by Marilin Guerrero Casas
July: The Last Day – Poland, by Pawel Awdejuk
August: Through my Hands – Venezuela, by Veronica Cordido
September: Amelia’s Euphemism – Spain, by Jonay Quintero Hernández
October: Until Love Do Us Part – Uruguay, by Alejandra Baccino
November: A Journey to the Edge – Lebanon, by Rayan Harake
December: I Used to Smoke – Russia, by Kate Korneeva
Background – Context
Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)
La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)
The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)
L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)
From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)
More work by Pawel Awdejuk
Niepewność – The Road to Freedom – Pawel Awdejuk
Pole-arization – Pawel Awdejuk
Emblems and stories on the international community
Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world
Cover photo: Torun, Poland – Into the phone – Krzysztof Pazdalski (Shutterstock)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed