Friday, 3 July 2009


Polish mentality is one of those things which quite frequently bewilder foreigner who come, settle down, or get settled here.
By and large, there are some national traits which differentiate us from other nations.

Griping – an average Pole has to gripe about everything – spanning politicians, work, neighbours, family, bureaucracy, etc. The older, the less educated, the less well-travelled, the poorer, the more they complain.

Criticism – but lack of constructive criticism, it’s easy to put somebody down, slate somebody’s ideas, tell something is ugly. Even it’s easy to say “I’d do it better”. Easier said than done, almost everybody is all mouth better, but hardly anyone can lay out alternative proposal or just pull up socks and buckle down to work…

Relativism – if another driver cuts in on me, he’s a “one on the beach”. If I violate the right of way it must be somehow justifiable. He’s not allowed, in my case there must be some reasons behind it. Some time ago I’ve read a study which gave an excellent explanation of the approach of the trade unionist picketing in front of prime minister’s office. The didn’t scream out “thieves” because they were outraged at policy of “stealing away” national property or at the high remuneration of factory’s director. They held it against them that someone else was given that golden opportunity. In their shoes they’d steal even more without restraint, but they wondered why it hadn’t fallen to them…

Definitely, relativism is our worst trait, I notice it every day and keep an eye on my behaviour not to succumb to the temptation of justifying my deeds in the “relativistic” way.

Written on the spur of the moment. Maybe it’s not fully true, maybe I hurt somebody, maybe it was necessary? Maybe something should be added to that list?


Michael Dembinski said...

Ah now, young Bartek, one could write a book about this subject! Poles are hypocrites who hate hypocrisy. Your point about criticism is apt. I recall several years ago travelling to Kielce by train. In the full 2nd class compartment, a political debate had broken out. Everyone (the student, the priest, the old ladies, the businessman) set about criticising Poland, its political system, its people, its recent history.

"OK," I said. "You've all said what kind of Poland you don't want. Now can you explain to me what kind of Poland you do want?"

Complete silence in compartment for rest of journey.

Bartek Usniacki said...
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