I’m a lucky guy – False biography*
Don’t think that everyday things happen to me that make you say: he had a stroke of luck. It’s more about the context. I’m a male, I live in the capital of a (relatively) civilized country in the European Union, I have blonde hair and blue eyes, which makes me look like a Westerner and this may be, in turn, a benefit and a drawback (when someone tries to take advantage of me). I went to school, I have a college degree and a master degree and now I am a student again – online courses. This means that I have a computer and Internet connection and, as you all know, Romania has very good Internet connection speed. I would say that I am healthy, I have a roof over my head and I do not remember to have gone to sleep hungry, without it to be strictly my choice of diet or based on health reasons. Yes, a lucky guy, the kind of luck that you are not aware of earlier in life, when age has not yet turned into experience.
In kindergarten I wasn’t worried about anything or at least I don’t remember. My parents used to work on a construction site. Because they were producing the energy of the country, they were considered a privileged category. Despite this, it was hard on the construction site in the communist period, isolated in the mountains and, of course, I realized the differences between the kindergarten from there and the one from Timișoara, where we had moved when I was 5 years old and about to start school. But no, when my parents left me at the big city neighborhood kindergarten, I didn’t cry because I was missing something, but because I was just an emotional child.
In primary and middle school I was first in my class, held a student supervisor position and I was even appointed General Secretary of the Communist Youth Union (before you jump to the conclusion that I had communist affinities, I assure you that I was just a harmless nerd who reached the age of 14 before my eighth grade peers, as I enrolled in school at the age of 7). The transition from being the teacher’s pet to being ignored in corpore (namely starting high-school), was a psychological trauma that I will never forget. However, with a push from my parents, I was accepted in the best high school in Timișoara in the mathematics and physics class. My fellow friends who graduated from there wouldn’t agree with this statement. Anyway. Up to college emotionally I remained a teenager and I would be ashamed to publicly admit what my primary concerns were during that time. Certainly, I wouldn’t have considered myself lucky.
At 25 years old I started working at, what was then called, the Foundation for an Open Society; that meant not only getting acquainted with Popper’s philosophy and Soros himself, but also the first contact with the blunt reality of others. Also at 25 I started my coming out, a process that lasts to the present day. Since then I began to realize that I am lucky: I haven’t lived in a remote, isolated village; I haven’t walked barefoot through the mud; I haven’t commuted to school for an hour each way; my family have never cast me out from home.
I have never been Rică, my colleague from the first grade whom the teacher sat in the first row of desks because he was considered a student who causes problems – our teacher liked to keep close the turbulent elements to control them better. Rică was more fidgety, didn’t do very well in school and he was a Roma.
I have never been Geanina, the girl I interviewed when I recorded testimonies of trafficking in human beings’ survivors, whose boyfriend tricked her with the promise of a better life in Italy and she ended up abandoned by traffickers, stuck a whole night in the fence of a house in the Balkans from where she tried to climb over the balcony and escape the humiliations of forced prostitution. Geanina was one of the cases in which the family said that the school didn’t do enough and the school said that it was the family’s fault.
I have never been Argentina, whose mother died of AIDS and who thought that she was ugly because all the princesses she loved in the books from the shelter had golden hair. Argentina had raven black hair, olive skin and lived the first years of her life literally in the garbage dump.
I wanted to say that I am not a girl, a Roma or from the rural area, but also that there shouldn’t be anything wrong with any of these and much more. The circumstances surrounding the fact of being a girl, a Roma or from the rural area and many other things must be changed. We can’t be all boys, Romanians or from the city or from any other mainstream, privileged category, that makes one ”lucky”.
I firmly believe that our experiences, the environment we live in and the community we belong to program us from our first seconds of life. I don’t think that it’s a Matrix-type programming, nor a karmic one, but I think it’s just the influence that various factors have on a continually evolving brain. Education is one of those factors that affect us and program us. If it can be delivered in such a way as to have more beneficial effects than disadvantages, then this need to happen starting from the official level, where policies, strategies and laws are written, to the individual level, because not everyone is as lucky as I’ve been. We all deserve to be programmed in order to achieve our maximum human potential regardless of gender, skin color or sexual orientation. I think that the school should help us all to succeed in life and be able to consider ourselves lucky. When I say ”all”, I say that no one should be left on the outside.
*This editorial does not contain false information. Some names have been changed to protect the identity of the victims and minors.
by Daniel Kozak
Daniel Kozak is a journalist and a communication specialist, believes in people, in their rights and in the power of the word. He worked with ethnic minorities, with victims of trafficking and disadvantaged social categories, but also with presidents, directors and, most difficult, with himself.