Inscribed in a church in Baltimore in the US you may read the following:
You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here;
and whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe
is unfolding as it should.
I have often mused over those words, in particular as they were on a frayed card I found behind my father’s American Express Card hidden in his patined wallet, this after he passed away. It suggested something to him; now it means much to me.
I believe the words mean that some sort of overarching destination governs our lives, an acceptance of our wants and a willingness to go with the flow and reasonably not overly to resist.
Over generations one constant in my family is that we were willing to go with that flow, both jointly and severally, as a family and as individuals. Unknowingly our futures were framed, at least with subliminally discerned confidence. Somehow we were trusting, essentially secure in the benevolent hands of a knowing power. Unknown futures didn’t needlessly unnerve us. There were reasonable chances all would work out in the long run; we simply felt that that would be so. This allowed successive generations to take the plunge, so to say, and to do so over and over. Inherently, even if not observably, not even self observably so, there was an overall reckoning that, long run at least, things would work out – even if differently so than assumed.
My feeling, then, is at odds with fatalism, it was and is rather that we felt confident in the long run that He had our back, that we would make the best of the cards we were dealt. There was an innate recognition of our family’s past and preparedness to live and to act in a manner that would “help” and make proud those generations that would follow, there was a frisson of awareness, a two way, dare I say, sense of and for our family, a past pride and future expectations.
I have a distinct idea about many Romanians who without being aware of it live another sense of fatalism. There is an overhanging baseline present: To be cautious, skeptical and cynical, even, especially so older people who experienced as adults the impact on their lives by the Ceausescu Securitate and in general hardships leading to justifiable mistrust and uneasiness.
Suspicion and hesitation are outgrowths and on a macro level so too perhaps, asking oneself who has the responsibility for a person’s fate, he or the State? Personally, there seems to be admission that decisions are made by others, so why not acquiesce and go along with them-anyway.
There’s a well- known Romanian folk-poem that seems to say that nothing is done nor can be. Generalizing, Romanians are fatalists at a base level. The mythical shepherd who learns he is to be killed unjustifiably, asks merely to be buried as he deems appropriate, accepting his fate without expedient defense.
A century after Miorita wrote this fable about Romanian fatalism we recognize still in our present milieu that suing over an injustice too often may well be a wasted effort so long as the other side has the money and will and contacts – at core that we are a Mioritic people. Romanians say De ce ti-e ursit nu poti sa scapi roughly whatever happens, happens or as well, Ce-o fi, o fi what must be, must be. (In fairness we too sing in America – whatever will be, will be.)
In today’s Romania all this may be some sort of clich because so very many are “kreftich” and resourceful, imaginative, positively driven, ambitious and willing to take the plunge, to consider risking all. Personally, I know mostly productive over the fanciful; determined and eager and purposeful over the unassuming, predestined or accepting. And yet and still, notwithstanding all this, an undertow of fatalism continues, especially with older generations of Romanians. Most foreign headquartered companies have, for long, delegated senior management and virtually all personnel to proven Romanians, who very likely compare favorably with their counterparts- and not merely linguistically, far from so.