Children of the world

Last three years numerous times I was asked what my home country was. Three years ago guesses were correct or close to the truth: Russia, Ukraine, Poland. Then, as years passed, suggestions became various: German, British, Swedish, French, Czech, Dutch, Polish, Bulgarian, Romanian, Russian and even American (!). Many times I was approached in Maltese, in Germany I was asked for directions as well as in Southern Spain.

Sometimes I wonder what I would have been like if born in Sweden, France, Germany, Poland or Spain. How different would be my perceptions? How the country of origin does affect our minds, opinions, visions? Would we even recognise ourselves born in other corner of the word?

One thing I am perfectly sure about is I’d still get into odd situations and would have plenty of adventures. But what about education – would I be still proud of my universal academic education? And food preferences – would I think of pasta as of the tastiest thing in the world if born in Italy? And what about tolerance in general – would I pass by kissing boys without surprise if born and grown up in Netherlands? Would I be a fan of cruel psychotic Disney cartoons if was a child of USA? Probably, yes. Or how different my generation would be if not growing in times of a big change – USSR collapse?

These reflections convince me how much of true “us” is formed in certain surrounding and could be different. We could not choose where to be born but how much our individuality and our character depends on us? How possibly can we have such different family values varying from “wife is for life” in Malta and “wife is not a wall, it can be replaced” in Russia. It easily could be the opposite way… All these international battles to protect national identity and values seem so ridiculous.

Would I wish to be born somewhere else? I do not know, honestly. I learnt about other countries from books and they all seem imaginary. I cherish memories about my tough and full of hardship childhood. Nevertheless, Tolstoy and Bulgakov were loved as much as Robert Stevenson, Hans Andersen and Astrid Lindgren. At the age of 25 I decided to move away from Russia as I could no longer call it home. I realize some habits are changing, I am becoming Maltese in some way. Is it important to have a national identity?

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7 thoughts on “Children of the world

  1. It is important to have an education in order to be able to think about this stuff, no matter where you were born. The point is that the education you get as a child (which is the education that will primarily determine your way of thinking) used to be related to the place where you were born.
    That´s what I think as an educated Spaniard.

  2. Absolutely. Sometimes I imagine how different my way of thinking could have been if I was born in Germany or Spain, for example. At least, in that case I’d be proud of my football team 🙂

    1. I have to say that I´m not proud of my football team at all… well, maybe it´s because I don´t like footbal, but I don´t find those guys (players) like somebody I should be proud of… Well, if at least they win and donate part or all of the €300K each of them would get from my government (yes, the same government that has cut half of the budget for education, health system, research…), then I could think about being proud. But I´m afraid they are just a bunch of ignorant rich boys merely interested in their looks, cars, pretty girldfriends… You see, I can´t say I like football 😉

  3. I can’t say I like football in general. I know all these fuss around Euro is stupid and useless. Authorities organise “Pane et circenses” to distract us from real problems. Sure, they just advertise themselves during such tournaments to sell themselves, to get a better contract. But I am especially ashamed of Russian team – they and the trainers were paid an enormous amount of money, more than others. And they could not justify what they were paid for (even if nobody needs it). I’m scared of the next winter Olympics in Sochy – they are going to destroy the beauty of this place and stuff their pockets with a launder.

    Re Spanish team, I have a warm feeling towards Spain (such a truly amazing culture, language, friendly people) that this feeling is extended to Spanish national team.

  4. I say often (without fear of challenge) that “For most people, your religion is where and when you were born”. I guess for most of our world-views likewise. Our conditioning becomes filters.
    It took me half a lifetime to realise that I was a victim, and far too long afterwards to break free and think for myself.
    Now more than anything I admire people who can (and do~!) think for themselves.

  5. Agreed. Our thoughts pretty much depends on very we were born. With acceleration of globalization, thoughts and lifestyles become more and more uniform. We watch same films, eat at McDonald’s (not me), brainwashed by annoying ads in the same way. There is always a price for thinking outside the box – social rejection and labelling for not moving together with the crowd.

  6. The Japanese have a saying (to the effect) “The nail that sticks up must be hammered down”. In New Zealand we call it the ‘Tall poppy syndrome’ (being the NZ penchant for clipping tall poppies into conformance). Here physical achievements (outstanding athletes) are celebrated so long as they conform philosophically. Here, in human thought (as in much of the world) variance is deviance; hence PC rules to the nth degree.

    And we pride ourselves on our sheep …

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