Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Nine O'Clock: When does the day begin?

When does the day begin?
published in issue 3824 page 4 at 2006-12-05

Analyzing the approaches to remove the Orthodox icons from the Romanian schools and making a comparison with the recent Western legislation which bans the religious insignia from public spaces, some people have reached the conclusion that the Western-European “original” would be justified, while the Romanian ”copy” would be useless. Why? Because the European West is invaded by the exponents of non-European (or non-Western) cultures, noxious for the cultural and identity coherence of Europe, while the Romanians are not confronted with such a phenomenon. Prohibiting the exhibition of the religious symbols, the West defends itself against the cultural aggressions coming from the non-Christian East. Since the Orthodox Christianity is related to the identity of the Romanian nation, the refusal to exhibit it publicly would however represent another move weakening the resistance in terms of identity and would render the Romanians vulnerable in front of the attack of the foreign cultures.

Such a theory - that many “good Romanians” and “good Christians” will greet - is anti-Romanian and anti-European, non-Christian and non-modern. Today, the Romanian nation is civic and multicultural (multi-religious). Without denying the contribution of the Orthodox Church in the assertion of the Romanian character, let us recall that not only the Orthodox Christians, but also the adepts of other religions (non-Christian included) have thought and died for the construction of the Romanian nation-state. Romania is the country of all its citizens, of those who feel to be Romanian regardless of their religion or ethnic group. To exclude some of them saying that their religion is “non-Romanian” means to fracture the Romanian society, to diminish and impoverish it.

The theory of the “Orthodox identity” comes to confirm Huntington’s thesis of the clash of civilizations. In the mythological context of the irreducible conflict between West and East, circumscribed by the myth of the Western exceptional nature characterized by “reason” and “the freedom of the individual,” this thesis places Romania (maybe with the exception of the Greek-Catholic Transilvania) among the inferior Levantine cultures starting exactly from its Orthodoxy, exposed as irremediably irrational, destructive and tribal. The exclusion of the non-Orthodox population from the sphere of the elements of identification of the Romanian character pushes the Romanians into a controversy that it needs even less, as it is false and the priority of the Romanians today is the unification of Europe based on trans-religious and cosmopolite values, among which secularism.

But, to deny in the name of secularism the right of the persons to state publicly their belief, as some Western countries try, is a democratic skidding generator of social tension.

The refuge within the situation (linguistic, ethnic) communities and the lack of confidence in the adhesion (national-civic, cosmopolite) communities is the characteristic of the people affected by existential insecurity and axiological confusion. At the time when they want to recover modernity and join the Europe of the pluralist democracy, the Romanians have no reasons to feel insecure, they cannot abandon the critical thinking and cannot afford the confusions of values.

The Bible narrates the dispute over the setting of the moment when night finishes and the day begins: one says that the day begins when there is enough light in order to distinguish an olive-tree from a fig-tree; another, when you can distinguish a donkey from an ass. The conclusion is that the night comes to an end when two travellers can see that one is from Samaria and the other from Judea, and greet one another calling one another “brother.” I add: only when people with a certain belief meeting others with any other belief greet themselves as brothers, the long night of mankind has finished and the expected day has begun.
by Adrian Severin


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