Monday, June 23, 2014

My Idea of Solidarity ...

My idea of Solidarity was formed in Poland.  It came from my experiences living in Poland for more than ten years. It may even have come from my own Polish roots. Solidarity for me means living and dying for the same blood, the same cause, the same world view, the same identity and same belief in God. This appears maybe as negative for those caught up in the contemporary love of diversity. Is there diversity in solidarity, of course. As much as needed by a group to remain 'solid', and enough to keep things alive as in moving forward in time as a group. Can a person from the outside of such a group be integrated in? That is a good question and one that friends of mine are trying to understand and even make happen.  What is essential regarding integration into a 'solid' system is compatibility upgrades. One has to know the language, the traditional way of doing things so that in moving forward this is a way to look back and understand where you came from and why the change if any. This applies to all integration. Once you are integrated, the beauty of the system of the solidarity can be seen, understood and appreciated... it can bring joy! Isn't this why people integrate? If you are not up to this kind of experience, maybe because you are in solidarity already in your own group then stay where you are and integrate someone into your group.  Solidarity!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Living and Dying For Each Other

We are Polish, we live and die for each other! I think about Poland, I think about the homogeneity. I think about a kind of kinship, a deep affection for Poles. What does it mean to be Polish? It means to be Polish, to live Polish, to speak Polish, to be understand Poles and know Polish history. If you are Polish, you know what to think, what to eat for Christmas Eve, what names day it is, and how much Pope John Paul meant to Poland. I like the sameness of Poland; not that diversity is absent but it is rather individuality expressed in being Polish. For instance, expressing your Polishness through correct us of the language, traditions, knowledge of history, song and dance, cooking, remembering ... (going to the cemetery to visit loved ones who died, and lighting a candle for anyone (in the grave) who does not have a family or friend to do it for them ). You can travel to a far from Poland and if you hear Polish, suddenly you are transported back to Poland and the person you just met is like a relative to you.
Going to Church is important (there is a Catholic church in every neighborhood; and living a Christ like life is important to Poles... not that they don't slip up or even profess that they don't believe... they do; they are living and dying for each other. That is a Christ lived life.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Living in a Communist built Block

Living in a communist built block, I was not ready for that. I was in shock actually. What shocked me first was the grim appearance (my first time in 1997). They towered in some places like vaults that stood as harbors of immorality and unethical measure. There was literally no parking lot, people were expected to take public transportation and most everyone did. Yet, people wanted and acquired cars... so they parked wherever they could once the few 'parking spots' were taken. Then there was the long clanking ride up to the tenth floor in the what seemed like 'cargo elevator'... smelling like cigarette smoke and alcohol and dog pee. It felt like I was going down into an abyss rather than up to a flat 'apartment'. Once inside, the rooms were sparsely decorated, the toilet closet located usually in the middle of the flat... rather no hallways to speak of and that meant no privacy; though small rooms off the foyer (if you could call it that) had doors that closed, they were thin and had opaque class from top to bottom letting in much sound and light. The toilet closet was often separate from the bathtub area/room. Believe me when I say closet, there was barely enough room to get in and do what you went in to do. The toilet plumbing was exposed and the toilet was usually the same in all flats, a tank that had a long neck and oval seat, the bowel was shallow and had a ledge which often allowed substance to remain even after flushing.  Thankfully, the bath tub was in another space adjacent and yet not close to that toilet.
The kitchen cabinets were always rickety and appliances tiny. I thought, no average American could every live like this. Not even the poorest of Americans could imagine living like this. Though I was shocked, I got used to it. I even shared by space with others, who stopped by announced and even stayed over.  Soon, communal living became the norm for me. I realized that life was not about things, but about people. I knew people intimately and no one tried to show off... they couldn't anyway. I also liked walking to and from the store, the bread kiosk, the church, school, the park... and even the doctor's office; occasionally, taking public transportation which was another way you could meet/and or get to know someone or know about something. Home-cooked food was way better than eating out and caring for family and attending church on Sunday was normal behavior.
Of course, things began to change in Poland since 97. Since then, a lot more people drive their own cars, and a lot more people live in self - purchased, private owned, new apartments. Malls came on the scene and shopping on Sunday. In fact, if I compare 1997 Warsaw to 2014, it is a different place. Since 1997 life in Poland has begun to sparkle with billboards and glass structures, and so are many other cities and towns. The West came flooding in and cleaned things up, gave people new ideas, new starts, new life. Now, one can notice large privately owned houses enclosed by fences and gates, manicured lawns and no trespassing signs. And, people in Poland like most of Americans are favoring staying in their houses playing games on the computer, texting to neighbors/friends...  coming out to get in their SUVs and drive to the mall. Mmm, maybe block living wasn't so bad. Not that I am in favor of communism and living in concrete blocks with bad plumbing but I am in favor of living a real life, enjoying people's company face to face, walking to and from the local store, church and school, home-cooked food and family.