Val is a life-long practically oriented student of effective emotional and attitudinal responses to the many challenges of life.
Don't worry about the failures, worry about the chances you miss when you don't even try.
-- Jack Canfield
Equality Doesn't Mean Equal Capabilities
It appears hard to accept as a life truism that we are all of a different innate and acquired capacity to produce success in life. Whether it's a lack of an effort or a lack of our natural aptitude and interest, we can't expect our governments to do for us what we can't, or won't do for ourselves. And this is to become the theme of everything that follows.
In my relatively long life I have been a part of two distinct socio-political environments. One was characterized by a certain suppression of freedoms, and the other by too much freedom.
For their own respective reasons, both types of political arrangements seemed to breed a lot of emotionally unstable folks who somehow confused equally available opportunities for a "guaranteed personal success in life".
Just like a less promising kid is bound to accuse his parents of something like favoritism towards his more naturally gifted sibling -- some of us tend to find so many things wrong about our government which seems to "cater to a certain group of more succeeding folks".
In the paragraphs that follow, allow me to present both of those mentioned national mentalities with the purpose of showing how neither of the extremes in political spectrum -- when it's about opportunities and civil equality -- can result with everyone's satisfaction.
That for the simple reason that there is always a part of the populace that insist on placing responsibility for their life in others' hands.
We often miss opportunity because it's dressed in overalls and looks like work.
-- Thomas Alva Edison
Dissatisfaction Communist Style
If my memory is serving me right, it was the Greek philosopher Plato who said something along these lines: "Whatever belongs to everybody is not appreciated by anyone".
That might as well be one of the main descriptive points about a communist/socialist regime; and I should know it, because I was born and raised in one -- namely ex-Yugoslavia, with Marshall Tito being the dictator. Not directly relevant to the story, but after my military service I moved to Canada as a legal emigrant at age of 24.
Now, for a typical illustration of the way how business was run -- you could step in a store to be totally ignored for a while, with no one approaching you with a smile which you are so used to here in West, with: "Can I help you?" The smart ass Plato might say: "Why bother, the store is not private, but national, and government is guaranteeing their job whether they try hard or not."
Well, that would describe the general "business spirit" there. So, one may ask, where was the money coming from to cover for that nonchalant laziness. Thanks to the country's exceptional strategic location, the West Block was generously keeping the dictator away from political influences of the East Block, meaning the Soviet Union at that time.
I hope you are not particularly surprised, because even after the fall of the East Block, countries around the world are still receiving bribes for political/strategic reasons.
O.K., what was that dictatorship like -- on a bright side -- because there was a bright side. Like, the medical care was universal; education all the way up to post graduate was free except for books; we had one month paid vacation after the first year; and a lengthy leave of absence for most ridiculous little health complaints.
For an icing to that story, no one particularly cared if you came to work smelling on alcohol, and people usually spent their "coffee" breaks in nearby inn for a shot or two of much popular plum brandy.
Was everybody happy with that arrangement, you ask.
Those American movies about private businesses and luxuries -- spelling out capitalism -- put in shadow anything good in their life. Well, truth be told -- wages did suck big time.
Fast forward to these days, after the dictator died promptly replaced by democracy, capitalism blooms...so you may assume, everybody must be happy now.
Now they have to work hard to keep their jobs. Education is not free, medical care is not all paid for, and don't even dream about smelling on plum brandy at work.
With a big sigh, some are reminiscing about "those blessed old times".
I've heard that hard work never killed anyone, but why take the chance.
-- Ronald Reagan
Dissatisfaction Western Style
I hope it won't come as a major surprise to anybody when I dare to say that people of ex-Yugoslavia are not any different than people of any western country. Political arrangement doesn't make one damn difference when human beings are in the equation.
Basically, some prosper, others don't. Amen.
Those who don't, can't be pleased with any government you give them. They are members of the pissed Losers United class.
So, after coming to the "free, democratic West", the only difference I could see was the freedom of the pissed ones to vent their steam out in form of demonstrations -- which, by the way never accomplished anything -- and calling their leaders all kind of derogatory names.
If you called Marshall Tito a name, or as much as made a joke about him, you wouldn't have time to figure what was happening between that joke and your working on a forced labor in a quarry.
So, long live the "free world"!
As for democracy, well, it seems like there are two parties to choose from, but somehow, during my half century of living in Canada -- and being a neighbor to a very free and democratic America -- I haven't seen a damn difference in prosperity of the majority, regardless whether a liberal or a conservative boss was in charge. Which means the same when we convert Canadian Liberals to American Democrats, and Canadian Conservatives to American Republicans.
So you are a proud voter, while it ultimately doesn't make a difference for you, because you are still on the same job, seeing the same mother-in-law every Sunday at dinner time, having the same friends that are boring you to death with their problems... -- well, I'll let you finish the sentence.
In other words, you are a human being, and that makes you qualified for a good percentage of private crap that has absolutely nothing to do with your government.
Back in Yugoslavia I saw the government ignore the will of the people, even though they called everything "national". Here they don't call it "national", but are still ignoring the will of the people. You can assemble a group of hundred or hundred thousand protesters, and look if anything happens differently because of that.
If I wanted to play a shrink -- which I do a lot in my writings -- I would say how a certain kind of folks keep projecting their own dissatisfaction on any authority figure, whether a parent, a boss, a doctor, a politician, anybody. Even kids can look like an authority if we didn't raise them right and they are bossing us around.
So, call it communism, socialism, capitalism -- people are only people, and some of them are always loud enough to make their government look like a band of mobsters.
You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing, there will be no results.
-- Mahatma Gandhi
"Freedom" and Its Different Meanings
Something so relevant to that first story about life in communism can be found in the phenomenon here in the West where some families, generation after generation are enjoying welfare and other free social services.
They spend their life bitching about a lack of job opportunities. Then comes another administration which puts a big emphasis on job creation, and what happens now? Agonizing over prospects of being forced to start looking for a job, those same folks are now bitching again, finding other arguments, some downright ridiculous.
In the other corner of the ring, governments don't mind such folks demonstrating, screaming, even looting. Every government has a department monitoring the "public mood", and they know well that masses need a chance to vent out the accumulated steam every so often.
In ancient Roman Empire, there was a policy regarding that, called in Latin "Panem et circenses", meaning in a free translation: "Give the masses enough bread and games and they will be O.K.".
So, whatever frustrations we don't scream out at a football game, we can scream out in a demonstration. Calling our leaders all kinds of names -- even publicly -- is a treat of its own.
Can we see what's really happening here?
We want more and more freedoms, while not realizing that we are keeping ourselves in slavery of our minds, and no one can liberate us from that. For, after all, freedom is a tricky word, meaning something different to different people of different political environments.
In communist regime people celebrate "freedom from imperialistic exploitation".
In democracy it's "freedom from government's oppression -- also freedom to speak, to demonstrate, to loot, and to insult".
In theocratic arrangement it's "freedom from lust and all other forms of sinfulness as it's observed in infidel societies".
Hell, even I am celebrating my own version -- meaning "freedom from suggestive, brainwashing influences from society.
Geez! Aren't we all so damn happy and free!
And, as people cry for more of their freedom to be recognized, they remain oblivious to their own depriving themselves from one basic freedom -- to use their own mind, to mobilize that best in themselves, and to invest it in the only life where they have some control -- their own.
Throughout this post it has been my rather innocent intention to satirize that aspect of human nature in which we tend to avoid responsibility for our lives, expecting that our governments fill that position.
While no government is perfect, it surely is appropriate inasmuch as it's leading a bunch of pretty imperfect people.
© 2020 Val Karas
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on December 23, 2020:
While there may be no perfect form of government, one run by honest people who try their best to make things equitable for the majority is ideal. Finding those honest leaders who remain honest once in office is the challenge.
Val Karas (author) from Canada on December 23, 2020:
Chris57 -- One thing we cannot control is the level of collective consciousness of society where we live. As you are mentioning Denmark -- to those people it simply comes normal and logical to have that kind of socio-political arrangement. Compare it to individuals -- how many times no words were good enough that you could convince someone of lesser intelligence that something was this or that way.
Then, there is this difference between happiness and satisfaction. I didn't move to Canada because I was "unhappy" in ex-Yugoslavia -- I was not "satisfied" there. Happiness is an inside job independent of circumstances, a matter of emotional equilibrium, I can be happy as a lark, but not satisfied when I get a flat tire while driving.
So, government cannot provide tools for my happiness, and my bitching about not being satisfied may cost me more nerves in a long run than leaving the country.
However, the article was basically about people who, out of mental laziness, don't do anything to be more satisfied, so they blame the government. Or those who, due to lack of natural abilities, cannot get anything better out of life, but don't see it as their personal limitation -- while expecting government to "give them talents and abilities which they don't have."
Thank you for your interesting comment Chris.
CHRIS57 from Northern Germany on December 23, 2020:
Whow, that is a really good article. Thank you. Can agree with a lot of your thoughts.
Isn´t it about freedom of choice? And - happiness / satisfaction being related to the outcome of personal choices?
So, as much as politics does not resolve personal issues, politics may well support in providing tools and to some extent guidelines to allow making choices and predicting outcomes.
If many tools are provided (free education, social security) this definitely assists in creating "happiness" (example Denmark). But that may be my view only.
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on December 22, 2020:
Thought provoking reading. Thanks.