Big dreams, small people
20 June, 2013
Big dreams, small people
Two years ago in a conversation with a dear relative, I found myself dumbfounded by her words. She was arguing with me that I was not seeing the big picture of what was happening to Georgia. It was in her words not a good thing that the police no longer took bribes. In her words, taking of the bribe meant the regular circle of transaction in this world. Before the reforms when the policeman stopped you, you knew automatically all
you had to do was give him money with which he used to buy products on the black market and fed his family.
You would get off easy, for a few lari, he would feed his family and the black market would feed itself. In short, everyone was happy. But now, since the police no longer took bribes, the whole system was broken, my relative lamented. I suggested that the police didn’t need to take bribes anymore because they had decent salary. You didn’t have to bribe them, this saving the money, so what was the big deal?
Well, that’s the problem exactly, she said, now when you do something wrong, you can’t just bribe him, you have to pay a fine, go to court and all that nonsense. I waited for her to start making sense, but it didn’t look like it was going to happen so I suggested a radical thought. How about you don’t break the law? That was you don’t have to pay a fine or go to court. My relative stared at me in such amazement as if I had grown antlers on my head. No, she said, that won’t do. Do you know, she said, that they fine you for not putting on a seat belt? Who can remember to put on a seat belt every day, she asked incredulously. Oh, only the rest of the civilized world, was my answer, but I was waived off. Surely, I just didn’t understand.
An hour later another relative, this time by marriage, and I, were in a verbal fight over the government and how horrible it was. The relative was telling me how frustrating it was when you see the bill for water and gas. Clearly I argued, they had forgotten the 90s, when there was no light or water, hot or cold most of the time. First of all, I was told, everyone had electricity and it was a myth that they didn’t. I countered this statement, saying I can prove the opposite, since I taped all my visits with my grandparents and I can show how light went in and out, mostly out in Sololaki. Well, that was in Sololaki, I was told. Everyone else had electricity. In the end it turned out that it was this specific house that had electricity because they were the few chosen ones who had it, and illegally at that. But their point was that they didn’t have to pay for it. So I said, you’d rather most of the country doesn’t have it, and only you and a few others have it for free, rather than pay your share so everyone can have it? Again, I was told I just didn’t understand and that being in the USA I was blinded by all the light, light that no one frankly needs in Georgia. How could I argue with this logic? They were telling me they didn’t need this much light, what on earth could I say, that yes you do, that electricity isn’t used only for TV and cooking appliances? 
And indeed, I am starting to wonder who needs all this light, when Georgia seems to be sliding backwards into the old system of doing things. Minister of Justice and the head of Church are so intertwined they can exchange posts. The universities are on the way to become state controlled, because everyone knows we all need one textbook to learn from, same as in Russia where the all-powerful educator President Putin has decreed all schools must have same history test and to be taught only from that text.
Ordinary Georgian citizens are becoming more and more intolerant of minorities because when the state is no longer in charge and the church seems to run the law; no one gets punished for subjecting minorities to abuse. Fear and intimidation from the men in black garbs and shiny jewelry... Why does it feel like the social history of Georgia is just sliding backwards straight into the arms of Great Russian Empire. A country whose motto is, if we are not doing well, you won’t either, we make sure of it; a country whose president loves Georgian people, but just as people, without the government. Make sure to get rid of that pesky sovereignty and all will be well within the motherland. Believe it or not this was also something my relatives had a point of view on. When they started telling me how much they missed being taken care of by Soviet Union I had to leave the table, or throw up. Who can argue with people who twist the truth so much that it becomes unrecognizable? They should really work for Georgian MIA, otherwise known as Misinformation Agency. The whole parliament gossips nonstop, making accusations they not only back up but then backfire on the accusers. No one ever says they were wrong or admits fault for misinformation and they teach their kids the same routine. Indeed, who needs the light, when you have such comforting darkness to lull you to sleep? Keep on dreaming Georgia, because that’s how things get better, by dreaming not by doing.
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