Freedom

Today is the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I’ve joined a cause on Facebook related to this event, which basically aims to raise awareness about human rights by using the power of blogging. On this date, December 10th, each and everyone who has joined the cause must write something to support it. Before reading further on this post, I highly encourage you to read the posts on onedayforumanrights.com and see the details at the Facebook event page. 

When I think about human rights I always think at my first half of life. Until the age of 19 I lived under communism, a dictatorial regime ran by Ceausescu. At the end of 1989, after a series of events often cited as the “Romanian Revolution”, the communist regime was down and the conditions for free elections created. The next years were chaotically to say the least, there was a lot of social turmoil and economic downfall but overall, the human rights started to be respected. It took about 5-7 years until the social climate become more transparent. During that period, we still had bad things running around, like large scale manipulation or social violence – sometimes to the extent of a civil war, with communities of people (miners) violently attacking other communities (students).

Fortunately enough, after 10-15 years, everything is going much better in my country of birth, Romania. But that first period, my early childhood and my primary education are tainted for ever with marks of an unbelievable way of life. Yes, it’s unbelievable now to think that you’re going to prison for criticizing the political regime. It’s unbelievable to think that you can’t leave your country whenever you want to. It’s unbelievable to think that you can’t say what you want to say publicly.

That first part of my life was a prison. I wasn’t confined at a closed facility and attended social structures like school. But the school, the other social structures above the school, were walls of a bigger prison. Every structure of the regime was a twisted and closed parody of what a free life should be. Everything around was a lie, and nobody ever said what he really meant.


That period, which is supposed to be one of the most empowering in your life, was filled with grey colors and fears. I learned almost without knowing to hide my thoughts because I can be punished for what I say. I learned that I cannot leave any place without first asking for permission. I learned that you can manipulate people, history and economy the way you want, without really caring about other people beliefs and general consequences.

The impact that period created is still felt into my life as we speak. I would very much like to say that I’m free for good, but I’m not. Those marks are there to stay, maybe for a lifetime. Yes, I can be a free person now. Yes, I can write whatever I want, on this blog or wherever I feel like. Yes, I can leave the country whenever I want, But the first 19 years of my life are grey for good. The only way to heal those wounds would be to completely erase the first 19 years of my life and pretend I was born after that. To pretend that I actually started my life at the age of 19.

Maybe this sounds a little bit harsh to some ears out there. In the age of blogging and social networking, talking about the effects of communism is a little outdated (and won’t guarantee tons of traffic, you know…). But this must be done. Even if you find yourself bored when you read this, keep in mind that this can happen to you too. I was coming in this world expecting joy and happiness, as everyone else, but I found misery and deception. At least for the first period in my life. This can happen to you too. If you don’t confront the fact that there are places in the world where things are going bad right this moment, you’re letting this to happen to you. Doesn’t matter if this is going in Tibet or in Burma, it will affect you if you’re not aware.

And being aware is the only thing you have to do. Being aware means to pay attention of what’s around you and stand for what you want. Not doing nothing is equal to encourage everything to happen around you. You have the power and mechanisms to make this place a better place. Mathematically speaking, compared with 6 billions, 1 person is nothing, is powerless, is insignificant. But mathematics is abstract. Numbers are not alive. You are alive. And in the real world, one person can make the difference. Look back in the history – and be grateful for having access to a transparent history, by the way – and see how world has been changed not by massive numbers, but by special persons. By courageous people who started revolutions, who lead expeditions, who created better and better social structures.

You have the power to make the life better. Start with being grateful for your freedom. And then you’ll see how this attitude of gratitude grows above you and flows towards others. Freedom is not for free, unfortunately. It’s an agreement made in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And you must do your part of the deal to keep this agreement alive.

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2 Responses to Freedom

  • Hi Dragos,

    In my view freedom has nothing to do with the time, the place or the regime someone lives in… but more to their personal, internal choice of how someone views the world and assess all the situations. Like you, I grew under communism and I have to confess there were lots of good things (as well as bad things). But I would not trade not even one day from my life as a child or teenager under communism for anything in the world – and that’s it because they are all part of who I am today (and I am proud of that).

    My point is that real freedom comes from inside (it’s like happiness). And that I am more concerned of the limitations, censorship and constraints my mind and my heart throws back to me, rather than what society does…

  • The very fact that you can comment on this blog is a consequence of “external” freedom.

    I agree that many of us were free even on those totalitarian times, but there were also people who died so we can have what we have now. “Internal” freedom without “external” action is useless…

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