In the May 13th – 19th 2006 special report, The Economist covers Poland, the country’s development, government, loss of intellectual capital, things that exemplify hope in the country and the things that need fixing.
While, I consider myself versed on the topic of Poland’s problems, I can say that it was nice to see and read that a publication such as the Economist shares a number of the same sentiments as I do on the country. One thing however really stuck out in my mind, and it is something that I unconditionally agree with. Poland and the Poles have “a tremendous lack of self-confidence”. This problem stems not only historically, where partitions, wars along other things have led to a lack of self confidence, but is often place reinforced by Poles themselves, and especially so when traveling abroad.
Many Poles when going abroad think that they have their nationality Branded on their foreheads, that westerners in general don’t care or react to the Polish in a specific way, or that the large numbers of unskilled Polish workers who worked illegally in the west have given the nation the nickname “Europe’s Mexico”.
All this culminates, in a lack of understanding on part of my countrymen. While, I can say that I felt these assumptions at one point in my life as well, I can say that even with the rest of Poles things are slowly changing. The large numbers of youth who go abroad to work for periods of 1-5 years, if not more, see that they are judged by their attitudes, their work ethic, drive and personality rather than the fictitious brand of “Pole” on their foreheads.
This in turn builds self-confidence in the individual and the term “Polak tez potrafi” (A Pole can also do it) becomes nothing more then a remnant of a certain fabricated national persona – a vestige of a certain past. I believe that it is these people, individuals who want to work towards the betterment of the country, who leave only to learn, and later come back and apply those competencies to business and life in Poland will end up shaping the country, and steering it towards a bright future. And in the end I am glad to say that I belong to this group, and that my work will have a positive effect on the people and the country.
… now, to figure out how to make the government more than a Polish carbon copy of Italy’s.