Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Contrast in Attitudes

I was reading Petru Dumitriu's To the Unknown God some time ago, and in it he painted a vivid picture of life in communist Romania. The economic conditions there were such that dismissal from one's job was essentially a death sentence. Dumitriu comments on the loss of several people close to him from suicide and even admits to having toyed with the idea himself. Stories like that provide a stark contrast in attitudes when compared to what seems to be the American attitude in the face of difficult economic times. Though things in America right now are by no means comparable to the destitution of Soviet Romania, I do not think it is a mere coincidence that in this time of financial decline that there is an increase in unemployment related violence. I have in mind the two very publicized cases of Amy Bishop and Nathaniel Brown, two university employees who did not handle even the prospect of potential unemployment well. Unlike their historical Romanian counterpart, Bishop and Brown did not fall into a state of depressed resignation leading to their own suicides. Instead, imbued with a since of indignant entitlement they lashed out at those "responsible" for their troubles. It's shocking the way the modern Western mind works. "My livelihood is more important than your life." How demented must we be as a people to allow a thought like that to creep into our minds?

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