Sunday, 11 April 2010


The worst thing about such tragedies is that they strike out of the blue. No one has a tiniest inkling of what might happen soon.

Friday was extraordinarily dark and gloom. I even regretted I had taken a camera as I went with my parents to Janki. On our way back we could observe a magnificent cloud bank and mixture of mist and drizzle setting in. Strange was the weather, resembling rather November than April. Saturday was the fourth day in a row when in spite of good mental feeling my head was heavy as if was made of concrete. I rolled out of bed, did the morning toiletry, tidied up my room, turned the computer on, browsed a few pages, posted on comment on MD’s blog, switched the machine off. My eyes were a bit sore and I thought it would be better not to expose the to computer screen. I set out to read on a book (I’ll later review it here), but my mother went into the room, we exchanged a few opinions about my physical tiredness. I refuted arguments that I should redress balance between working and physical rest by saying lots of people have it worse than me. I recalled my thoughts and thankfulness for every day passing without a disaster. They crop up from time to time, unbidden. Then I turned the radio on, someone mentioned in passing Polish president’s plane crashed in Russia.

“President will be on crutches” – I thought. I turned the computer on, the Reuters agency reported a devastating death toll, the next news got only worse.

The first reaction is disbelief. The sudden death of so many officials, including the president is not what anyone would expect to happen. Then, as the list of fatalities was being announced, disbelief morphed into shock, the truth began to sink in.

After a few talks on the phone the next thought is what the Polish state has to carry on. Our institutions must not stop functioning. I felt deeply sorry for Mr Tusk and Mr Komorowski who had to act quickly in the face of tragedy.

The Polandian post on the plane crash gives three good comments about it. I tried to follow the English media at the time, they gave a more neutral picture and I could find out about what Polish media were afraid to inform about – who was killed there. Island1 and Scatts have a much more bystander’s view on the situation and could mention two things. Thank you guys for these valuable remarks.

It has to be said that Kaczynski was not a popular figure among our readers, but nobody would have wished such a sudden and appalling end to his political career.

I wished Mr Kaczynski would end his term in December and would rather be busy looking after his granddaughters. The departed president had a vision of Poland, the vision I disagreed with, but it was stronger and clearer that what other parties presented. And he was determined to put it into practise. Quite possible he was a friendly and chummy man, but in politics he was unable to shape his image and we perceived him as stand-offish and terse man.

1/ Nobody would choose this way out but it does mean Mr. Kaczynski will be remembered very differently to the way he might have been had this not happened

A word of wisdom – I feel sorry but I do not want Mr Kaczynski to become a national hero, he pursued Polish policy in a certain way, was respected for how he could defend his stance. He did not lay down his life for Poland. He was flying to Katyn to pay tribute to Polish elite who were murdered by Soviets and died in a plane crash.

2/ Excellent opportunity for Mr. Komorowski to secure (or not) his position as the next President of the Republic of Poland.

Not necessarily Scatts, Law and Justice is now in the soup, it lost many politicians, but many people might want to vote for a candidate who would continue a mission of Mr Kaczynski. And we have to keep fingers on a pulse. I feel sorry for everyone who lost their family or friends, but it is not a reason to give them a head start in elections.

I hope the investigation concerning the tragedy will be fully transparent, even if the truth for Poland is inconvenient – remember that black boxes might include records of conversations on board which may cast a new light on this accident.

Jamie also suggested in my comment box it was a black swan event. It occurred to me yesterday, the very disaster fits the definition, but none of the rules for a black-swan-robust world could prevent a tragedy. Apart from one, not listed – “don’t put all you eggs into one basket”.

My UK readers when they woke up on 31 August 1997 did not expect to hear the news that Princess Diana died in a car accident.

My US readers when they woke up on 11 September 2001 did not realise that day would bring the biggest shock in the history of their country.

And not as single Pole would imagine yesterday morning that so many officials would pass away in a few hours.

This event teaches us once again how to live with uncertainty and reminds us how fragile human life is.

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