In Italy, where I have lived since 1993, I come across information and various opinions about the current situation in Albania. They come to me through compatriots who live here with a residence permit, but above all through Albanians who are interested to obtain a permanent residence permit to foster a better life in Italy.
When I ask them again about such a sacrifice, including moving a family with infants, they all respond with the same expressions: “lawyer, we do not come for ourselves, because we can eat a slice of bread there, but we are making this sacrifice for our children. We do not want them to grow up with our homeland’s culture; there is no future, that country won’t develop!”
I asked in confidence one of these people, whom I had known for a long time: “Is there a shortage of soil in Albania that you came to Italy?”
Immediately and spontaneously, he replied: “Here, not only the soil is in abundance but also the pasta.”
From the Italian-Albanians here, even from those that admire Albania’s politicians, who speak in superlatives for the current prime minister or on his predecessors with expressions such as “he is Albania’s greatest statesman in the last 30 years,” etc. Even they often end the conversation, asking me if I can assist with American visas because they can neither reside in Albania nor in Italy.
The tragicomic scenario appearing in my mind from these situations does not allow me to remain indifferent. As the drama of the demographic hemorrhage that pervades all-new generations is consumed, the generation with which each state projects its future, the lasting trend I hear constantly: “there is no future, that county won’t improve.”
Naturally, questions arise that I try to answer. Why does this phenomenon still occur after 30 years, is it so bad to live in Albania? I, myself, enjoy those few days or weeks I go on business trips or vacation. After all, why should we worry, the whole world is moving, Americans, Germans, and French are moving, and why not us also? Why should we see it as a negative phenomenon?
Then I think of that client who says that there is already a lack of soil to provide for enough to eat. Perhaps we are cursed to suffer and abandon the homeland since that place does not improve. Or can we hope that it all depends on our actions? At the end of the day, aren’t we creators of our own destiny?
What have the people, the government done to stop this phenomenon? So, the early corroded dilemma arises: does every nation have the government it deserves, or does every government have the people it deserves?
I would try express my opinion by looking for to causes and responsibilities, hoping to frame possible solutions. It is a complex whole that cannot be elaborated in a few points, but modestly, I would like to try synthesizing it impartially and without emotions. I would start by analyzing the responsibilities of the two main forces in this topic, namely the people and politicians.
The responsibilities of the Albanian people on the situation we are in do not necessarily coincide with the proverbial Albanian “vices”. Many virtues cultivated throughout centuries, make us today feel proud of the Albanian fighting spirit, sense of belonging to homeland and flag, of the hospitality, etc.
If we were to divide the people’s responsibilities by historical time, I would like to exclude the 50 years of dictatorship (1944-1991), during which no claim to freedom could be made. I will focus on the people’s responsibilities after the ‘90s.
Naturally, even at this historical stage, the shortcomings of Albanians could be regarded as a direct product of the previous period. One created a strange relationship with freedom. Freedom reached the eyes and soul of Albanians after 50 years of darkness; a dictatorial regime aiming to create the “new socialist man”, which forced everyone to put on the same “iron shirt” regardless of body seize. It eventually fit to some, but not to many others. No one could avoid wearing one, and those who refused were physically eliminated or imprisoned.
The survivors of the ’90s emerged from that dark period of mental deformity, which is still expressed today in attitudes like distrust toward everyone; a desire for a “strong” and “charismatic” leader; a deformed view of private and public property; imbalance within two extremes of complexes of inferiority and superiority; persecution mania and lack of memory, ignorance inter/national history; lack of awareness; prejudice that precedes knowledge; patriotism shown only in sports events; euphoric support of, essentially false, positive opinions of foreigners on Albania; reliance on claims like “only America can save Albania”; songs written on political leaders; etc.
The combination of these attitudes affects our responsibility for today’s situation. One would think that expectations from politicians towards such a people could not be more than what they have offered in reality. This seems to fit the saying that “every nation has the government it deserves.”
This condition allows for the view that such a nation would not be able to claim its guaranteed rights and impose an acceptable democracy on its political class. Then the question arises how can the people correct these vices or shortcomings?
Let us look at politicians now. In the last 30 years, a lot of time has been lost, and the Albanian political elite has made no attempt to correct the above vices. In addition to failing to reform the economy, the biggest shortcoming could be that of failing to set a balance between the parties (classes), the people and the politicians.
In Albanian history, the two classes, which have changed physiognomy depending on the socio-political context in which they have coexisted, may have recently come close to each other, and many times have been placed in two extremes. During the dictatorship, when the parties became two large classes, almost equal in number, the class of the privileged (the persecutors) and the anti-government, the so-called “class of the persecuted”.
Aristotle teaches us that “the happy man and the righteous society exist when the balance between the two extremes is required.” This magical solution could not be claimed immediately in the post-1990s Albania, for the simple fact that the transition from this regime was managed by the same party of persecutors, of course incompetent (not powerless) to aspire to the necessary balance.
Even if we were to hypothesize that in the 1990s the other extreme would be managed, the persecuted, physically abused or eliminated by the opposing extremist, I think they would be powerless to compete with equal and democratic “weapons” in the rewriting of the capes of power already in the crystalized possession by the other party.
So I am convinced that one of the unforgivable responsibilities and immaturities of the governments after the ‘90s is precisely the disagreement of the two extremes that could be achieved simply by offering the injured party the symbolic opportunity to forgive the persecuting party. This “luxury” never enabled the wounded Albanian while history shows that the former communist countries that reached this agreement achieved a visible balance between the two extremes. The causes of this failure can be found, especially in the iron shirt we treated above, and in the logical fear on the part of the persecutors from the reaction that the victims may have had, not more in the physical sense of the word than a possible concession or loss of political and economic power.
Celestine Chidiebere Ezemadubom with his book “Healing Memory: The Secret of True Freedom and a Happy Life”, in the liturgical interpretation of the phenomenon of forgiveness, points out that reconciliation becomes impossible when the culprits do not want to seek or accept forgiveness. But the idea of forgiveness is closely linked to “repentance.” It is repentance that removes any sense of revenge and allows forgiveness to the transgressor.
Repentance, then, is another flaw that justifies the failure to reach the missing reconciliation in Albania. Of course, even this phenomenon has its explanation not only in human nature itself, always prone to never admit its mistakes but is more pronounced in communities in which there is a complete lack of trust in God.
Under the Ottoman regime, I do not believe that repentance was a practice cultivated by their Lord, and during the communist regime, belief in God was replaced by faith in the “mother party,” while guilt and remorse were taken under torture. Well, all these reasons or even just one of them made it possible for us today to still be in front of two classes, transformed into physiognomy compared to the two classes of the dictatorial period (today they enjoy freedom of speech and movement), but not utilized as long as they always remain separated into two extremes, distance from each other that is measured in direct proportion to the impoverishment of one party in favor of enrichment through the greedy theft of the other.
The Albanian political class, unaware that it has already gone through an overdose of economic and political power, is denying that it is becoming more and more detached from the bitter reality.
Returning to the responsibilities and to provide a solution to the initial dilemma, I recall a wise Albanian saying: “the child is the mirror of the parents”. The parents of a nation are the political elite that runs it, that is, the government with the relevant institutions. If the child is badly educated, he grows up with vices, creating problems not only for himself but also for the society in which he lives. A parent’s ability lies in educating the child with positive values that will improve not only themselves but also their communities.
Public education, through state policies, with the necessary virtues and knowledge enables the exaltation of the positive part of man, necessary to build the pillar of any peaceful coexistence and without major differences between the two extremes of society. On the contrary, poverty in education produces poor thinking and consequently a lack of critical vision, necessary for the Albanian public.
Albania lacks a sense of criticism toward injustice.
It is often noticed on social networks the wild and superficial reaction of an audience exalted by mediocrity, especially, when someone does the duty of an honest citizen by criticizing a proposal of law or the concession of a rigged tender. It is true that the public, for its part, is already disoriented and does not know how to react to the pressure of pseudo-critics who, to secure their privileges or even just the bread of the mouth, blindly serve the next “employers”. These pseudo-critics are the first enemies of Albania because, like those spies recruited by the “Security” of the communist regime, they isolate the freedom of thought by diverting the opinion of the wide masses. As for the position of the Albanian Prime Minister, taking the occasion from my Italian-Albanian “interviewee”, more than my assessment, I would like to wish Him, praying to God, to give him the necessary intelligence and sensitivity, foresight and courage in leadership. I say this more out of concern and fear that gripped me after I studied the lives and careers of history dictators and discovered a characteristic that united all of them, “fear.”
The fear of losing power, a power combined with a dose of narcissism, turns into omnipotence that takes them away from the reality in which the nation lives, a fear that turns into paranoia with the catastrophic effects we all already know.
Going back to the balance of responsibilities of both parties, the people, and the political elite, I would try to improvise myself as the defense attorney of each of them to justify the historic bankruptcy against each other. In defense of the ‘seasoned’ Albanian political elite, I could find more than one alibi to justify its bankruptcy to the people. And how can she cope with sleepy people and that are difficult to lead, who neither owns nor cultivates a genuinely democratic and electoral culture; does not sincerely believe in the institutions of the state, as a result, for them in the words of one of the above “interviewees”, he has lost hope that this place can be made. So, my defensive discussion would end with Brockard, “every nation has the government it deserves.”
On the contrary, in the role of the ombudsman, to free him from the historical responsibilities based on the above accusations, I would use the irrefutable alibi that these people do not suffer from a pathogen of ignorance inherited for generations considered unmanageable, while its sons, when they emigrate abroad, always demonstrate integration skills and success in all areas, including politics.
In this case, the responsibility falls on the political elite to which belongs the management and the exploitation of positive resources and energies for the good of the country. So, the final verdict that would suit this “process” would be “every government has the people it deserves.”
Painfully, I think that the two sides have managed to deserve each other since from the moment they have managed to use it by setting a material price for free voting, while in a true democracy they constitute the essential freedom to decide the fate of their future.
Finally, trying to be proactive, the question naturally arises how will scrap be disposed of, how can the historical problem of Albania be solved. I am convinced that Albania will one day become one, but the closeness of that day will be conditioned by the moment when we realize that each of us must offer his contribution (just like that little bird, in the anecdote of the burning forest where all the animals were trying to save their heads, and when they saw the little hummingbird taking water with its beak to put out the fire, they began to mock it for its ridiculous action, he replied “I do my duty”), without waiting for the good to come from any supernatural power or other continents, while we drink coffee and fret to the many clubs. When we realize that the international factor is perhaps not so much interested in the democracy of Albania than in the stability in the region (stability does not necessarily mean democracy), we will begin to understand the importance of our contribution.
If in the past, the political class through those iron shirts exalted the darkest and negative part of human nature, forcibly removing the wretched from the path of God, cultivating extreme feelings such as hatred and malice for each other, contemplating the beauty and talent against the respect for the mediocre. Today we must change this chapter of history.
We need policies that eliminate the class warfare that continues today between the arrogance of the rich ruler and the humiliated unemployed; the real stimulation of meritocracy and not clientelism. Society must be emancipated with positive examples and should not let it educate itself on moral poverty based on the standard that the individual who is economically powerful-though criminal and ignorant-must politically direct the broad mass of intellectuals as well.
The work culture should be stimulated through real policies in the economy (the missing law on property restitution is the gangrene of the Albanian economy) and not by stimulating the shortest path, that of emigration. Emigration was indeed born with the birth of human and animal beings, but it would be an insult to the intelligence of the Albanians if today the movement of those few Germans or French towards the countries where they work or decide to live with emigration would apply to the poor who leave for reasons such as hunger, war or, natural disaster.
The culture of modern models should be cultivated by characters who promote solidarity, peace, and the fight against mafias, but not the culture of myths embodied in leaders that still promote the cult of the individual and use dictatorial methods to achieve omnipotence.
We need to be educated with the virtue of love and freedom that no one gives us, I am talking primarily about individual freedom which is not gained by protesting to replace the statue of the ancient dictator with that of the modern dictator. We are still in time to reach the missing reconciliation and it cannot be hoped that the “truncated memory” of a people can be healed through forgetfulness or the natural extinction of the victims of the generation or witnesses to a crime.
Eventually, I believe that one day, even there, the missing hope will return and the two extreme parties will finally come together to proudly deserve each other. As any person who emigrates from his own land, everyone would one day want to return to his own land, even to rest in the peace of infinite life.