Tuesday, February 12, 2008

La vida dolç

One of the fascinating things about year two here, especially with my burgeoning language skills, is the opportunity to look deeper into the culture. There are surprising similarities with idioms, and set sayings, the Catalans have a phrase virtually identical to 'I'll give you a hand' for instance. There are also things that impress me deeply about the culture. There are the semi-clichéd elements of Mediterranean culture, which are true in many ways: the importance of family, and food, of working to live rather than living to work.

One thing that has really impressed me though is that, so far, I have seen no sign of left over rage from the Civil War. The grandparents put it behind them, almost every last one of them. They do not incite rage or hatred in their children or grandchildren. They don't teach them whose Grandfather was an anarchist, and whose a fascist; whose grandfather killed whose grandmother. They just don't teach this. It is as if the culture as a whole decided to move on. As of yet, I do not think that this was done naively; they are nationalistic, they distrust Madrid, they feel the Spanish strongly dislike them, the grandparents feel this even more than the younger generations.

They have not, however, allowed hatred and rage to taint the generations that have come after them. Friends here tell me that there is never ever any discussion among the children of whose uncle was fascist, or communist, or anarchist, or a francoist...it just doesn't happen.

Part of this is, of course, because the fighting divided families, literally. One brother would be a communist and another a francoist, and they would be in opposite trenches, fighting, within the towns. Dredging too much of this up is risky, on a very personal level. It also brings it clear that these were all individuals, people you love, who are loved by your neighbours, so it becomes impossible to dehumanize them, as is typical in situations like these.

Whatever the reason though, the hatred and rage has not been passed down.

I think this is a very good thing; and a very culturally mature thing to have achieved. Maybe it comes from that laisé-faire attitude that attitude that life is for living and living beautifully, not for stewing over old hatreds; if so, more power to them.

But don't get me started on the school system here, m'kay?


Beth said...

If only other cultures and countries would do the same. What a wonderful gift to future generations - leave the hate behind.

And I really like the working to live rather than living to work attitude - that way of thinking could also change the world.

Esben said...

You can give a hand in Danish as well: "Lad mig give dig en Hånd".

Good to hear they have moved on. I feel that Indians are much the same. I have never heard any India talk about the horrible events of partition or even the Sikh massacre in Delhi in 1984. Now the city is full of Sikhs - many of them very succesful - and '84 seems like ancient history.

Beth said...

oh, I don't EVEN want to ask about the schools Rocky!!!!

elPadawan said...

perhaps it comes from the fact that people don't want to suffer from war again... What about germany, after being cut in half after the world war, and then re-united? I think it'd be pretty interesting to see how people are there.

Anonymous said...

What a great story about the different cultural picture you paint. If only other cultures would follow the Catalan's ways of just moving on, there might be a lot less hate in this world.

oreneta said...

Beth, there are some things that seem to be going right here, no doubt.

Esben, it is certainly nice when nations and people can move forward...wish we all could.. It looks like your Christmas in Europe was fantastic, I've been enjoying the photos.

Beth, best not....grrrr

elPadawan, I have a family/friend who has lived in germany for quite a while...I should ask.

Sirar, yes indeed, there would.

dawn said...

That is wonderful they don't teach that and pass down hatred among the younger generations. Many of the problems with the tribes in Africa would likely lessen if it were the case there.