A year ago, on the national day of my country I wrote from Brussels, quite disillusioned and sad about the lack of care and false sense of national pride I saw all around me. Today I am celebrating my country in Romania. Next to the person I love but can’t marry in Romania, watching TV and spending time with our dogs and Lego.
Today, on Romania’s national day, TV stations focus on putting forward examples of humility, humanity, support for others and brilliance. I have watched these all day and wonder why we only get to see these today. Why not daily? Do we only get to be proud to be Romanian on our national day? I think it is the same thing as fighting your neighbours all week and sharing a glass of something with them on Sunday just because it’s Sunday. And on Monday you start fighting again.
Today I watched stories of priests who help people be heard, gypsies who come out of poverty and return to it to pull others out, young people who have a career at 14 and make their first millions, sports people who inspire and work so hard. I was surprised to find myself quite cynical – wondering what was in it for them. Wondering if what I see on TV today is real or just for show.
Would I be welcome to enter the church whose priest tells all watching that everyone is welcome and heard? Why do we need to wait for a day like this to showcase such people while daily we have to turn off the news for fear of getting spooked from so much violence? If the ones who created their fortunes abroad feel so Romanian, how come they are still there?
Romania’s national day always makes me cry. Probably because it is a day when I am reminded of something that could be – kind of like the drink on Sunday between neighbours. But then Monday comes and your neighbour throws their garbage out the window, not caring that your yard is below. And the same priest tells me that I am doomed because my partner is another woman. And Romanians who have left Romania look down on the ones who stayed as if leaving is a quality in itself.
And the catch is, we don’t need to do something that is going to make the news. Doing something small, daily, to be real and human will make all the difference. Oh, and adding an extra smile each time we meet someone who says “hi, I am Romanian”, because we understand there is something unseen that ties us together. That is my Romania.