People took to the streets in the last few days in Romania to protest against an executive order that decriminalizes small time corruption – thus making an important number of dignitaries from the ruling party escape trial and a jail sentence. A law passed by corrupt politicians to help corrupt politicians escape the hand of the law. And they say there is no honor among thieves.
Quite unexpectedly, a portion of the Romanian people decided to start a small and peaceful protest against the idea of the bill before it was passed but, after the law was passed anyway, took to higher than ever numbers as the days kept mounting and the bill was not repealed. As it happens when more than half a million people start chanting and spend their evenings in public squares there started to appear a number of channels of communication from both sides that ranged from confusion to misinformation.
People in the streets are leaderless and, to a certain degree, unsure of things work at a government level. Which things happen overnight and which things need a bit more time to develop. But this is not the biggest case of confusion – that comes when asking people of what they actually want. They want the law repealed, that is obvious, but apart from that there doesn’t seem to be a lot of consensus. Some want the government to resign, which makes sense in a way since they passed a bill that is specifically designed to keep corrupt dignitaries free. On the other hand, some want the government to stay in place and go through the promises they made in the campaign – somehow planning their fall as they have overpromised and would never deliver what they committed to. There is also a side that only wants the leader of the party to resign as he seems to be the driver of the law since he will be one of the people that benefit from the new law. On the extreme side you have the people that want to abolish the entire party – thinking that this type of premeditated plan is damaging to the country itself and they have lost all legitimacy of legal existence.
Confusion is a normal state during protests – they happen spontaneously and need a bit of time to get their bearings. People are overzealous and have the tendency of throwing their frustrations all around. What is the best solution? There probably isn’t an all-encompassing one to begin with, as with everything the middle ground is usually the best approach.
As the protests lose their steam after the law has been repealed we are left with most of the confusion. Maybe a spark will come from some place – people are already sending lists around trying to get the most of this unique situation. If some of their points will happen it will be a success, but there is always the fear that everything will die down and that would be a loss – the situation would become as it was before the protests thus making the entire scope of the challenge just a somewhat futile experiment of the ancient agora. Busy lives and the hardships of everyday duties make for lousy voters. The continuous effort of informing yourself and public discourse is what will keep the flame alive, not to mention it will dissipate most of the confusion. How it will play out is a mystery, but one that will reveal itself soon enough.
From a political viewpoint all countries are monstrosities when it comes to governing them – if we are to add a mottled population like the one of Romania things get pretty heavy. Balancing a vast audience of pensioners that are living hand to mouth to the uneducated and rural middle-aged people that society seems to have left behind to the overly educated and technological savvy millennials that make their bread in multinational enterprises is a task of leviathan proportions. On top of all this you have a regulated and deeply rooted culture of corruption – balancing political cycles with thieving sprees in order to maintain power and be kept out of jail. Even when just scratching the surface you get a problem that has so many ramifications it is nearly impossible trying to untangle yourself.
The best course of action from this type of political establishment is, and always will be, misinformation. Going from the other political parties to known business men that might or might not have any role in the uprising to blaming the multinational companies themselves for promoting such protests. It works to some degree as it puts multiple sides of the Romanian society against one another. Grandparents vs Parents vs Children. The only thing that comes out of this is a bit of time to try and correct the balance, but with every passing year it gets harder and harder. People are informing themselves, and while some are plugged in to the political bought media outlets that promote a certain doctrine or another the numbers are getting smaller and smaller as informed youngsters have acknowledged where the biggest threat is and have started informing their seniors on where the issues are and how they need their help in overcoming them.
The road to fighting corruption and having a clean and powerful political establishment is long and arduous, but glimpses of it appear every now and then. When the system is shaken it doesn’t stand and what is beyond it appears in the frame. The only weapons that are needed are patience and information – trying to discern one fact from another and arming ourselves with strength and civic valor – not budging based on our misconceptions, but acknowledging the array of multiple lines of thought and action.
The only thing that matters is that the flame that is alight not consume itself gratuitously and real power derives from it – only then will we be on the true path of redemption and be able to stand tall and proud of the choices we have made. It seems like it will never happen, but that is only the misinformation that engulfs us and while we are adamant in seeing disruptive change right away, a side effect of the confusion that comes with enlightenment, we most hold the fort and await the ever churning wheel of time.