Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Doing as much good as you can around you

A couple of days ago I read an interview with Gabriel Liiceanu. It is mostly about the state of the Romanian society and it has a part I like a lot. I will try to translate it here:

Question: Do you think, Mr. Liiceanu, that the progress of this country depends in any measure on the political elite? Can we still consider that the president of this country represents a force that determines in any way the social progress? And I ask you these questions because there was no other president than Traian Basescu with more good intentions and determination for the social progress.

Answer: "For a long time I asked these questions in the same manner as you and, having the tendency to think pessimistic, I thought that, indeed, there is not much hope. Years passed and I realized it is not productive to think in such radical terms. I start to think that the <> that you talk about is done mostly not by the <> of the good, but by decreasing the chances of evil. I'll always think that I'll have to chose between a smaller evil and a bigger evil and that is enough in order to achieve progress in an invisible way. And I tell to myself: Basescu didn't manage to do much, but maybe he didn't have a majority in Parliament to support him, maybe he didn't have a government to work with. Maybe after the next elections there will be better people in the Parliament, etc. And when I am desperate, like you, I think on the following: 1. that I live the miracle to have escaped the communism's nightmare (which I couldn't imagine as possible before 1990) and 2. that from 1990 till now there have been some big advances in a couple of areas.
We have nothing else to do but to struggle all of us, there is no refuge. It is enough if each of us is doing his best wherever he is. And to persuade the people around him that they have a choice between a smaller evil and a bigger evil. That's what I think we can do: as much good as we can around us. If the number of people who think this way will increase then the our society will progress irrespective of one political figure or another."

What stroke me in this part is the same argument that I heard a long time ago. Our philosophy teacher (Mr. Marica) used to challenge us in class in a Socratic way. And one day he asked one of our colleagues what would he do in life. My colleague answered that if he would be the leader of Romania he would change this and that, but for now there is nothing he could do. To this our professor replied that it is not productive to think this way. We should always think of the best we can do now, instead of dreaming on a distant future or relying on another person who has power for things to change.

You know, maybe my philosophy teacher and Mr. Liiceanu went to the same school :)

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