Like I said, until we admit there is a problem, nothing will ever change for better! I personally believe that a lot of our national shame, vulnerability and low self esteem have their roots in 1940's. Whoever would like to understand our complex nature, would have to make an effort in getting to know what happened in Poland between 1939-1981. “A Question of Honor” by Lynne Olson and "God's Playground" by Norman Davies would be good for the start!
World War II damaged Poland's identity - this is beyond any disputes. No other nation's history, at that time, was as distorted as Polish. We were invaded and destroyed during the long and bloody war, then oppressed yet again by a communist regime. In total, 42 years of oppression. Everyone would admit it is a long time. No wonder these events left their mark on Polish soul and I guess, deep down inside, we still have not got over it.
It is still hard to talk about these things as the pain has probably not gone yet. Seventy years after the end of the Second World War and it is time for either other nations or Poles to understand that we must be allowed the time to be Polish again and to feel our own identity run through the veins. In the meantime, we continue to fight the whole lot of remaining stereotypes and prejudices:
- On the West End Poles are often reproached for having no manners in queues. I won't catch anyone by surprise by saying the state of war and regime are very drastic and extraordinary situations. I guess, the behaviour conducting at that time can be justified given the extreme circumstances. Whoever stood in line for 25 hours to get a roll of toilet tissue or any other basics, would understand why (there is no excuse to younger generations though)
- jealous and judgemental - as we have suffered hardship for so long, naturally pursue for better life with a touch of luxury. At the same time we lack the inner strength, the drive to achieve what we wish for. This is so destructive. Hold your world in your own hands! That is the only way forward!
- a lot of Poles have a rose-tinted view of the other European countries so when compared to their prosperous neighbours, see Poland as a failure. In fact, Poles have a lot to be proud of. With great educational system, fair infrastructure, deep traditions and strong ego, we are culturally, intellectually and spiritually streets ahead the others!
- low self-esteem and lack of motivation. I personally think we can observe a worsening trend of being cool with working hard just to serve the stronger/more powerful ones. Continue to work hard but think of your own benefits too! And don't be afraid of being successful! With our exceptional hard work and strong character we are worth our weight in diamonds!
- we would love to live the life to the fullest but with the current attitude it's not doable. Let's not worry about what others think about us and get bitter about comments made by those who are misinformed. Most of the images they have in their heads are at least 30 years out of date and whoever has recently been to Poland is pleasantly surprised how friendly and nice the place is.