Honestly, what the, hm, fudge is wrong with us Croats? Why is whingeing our most developed collective skill? (Some) public space figures and voices are changing, but the concerns and frustrations of common, normal people, alongside a celebration or two, remain largely the same.
I’ve been going through my computer files and the topics I’ve commented on as an introductory and closing columnist – and, man, they remain equally relevant – both the topics and my analyses. All that needs changing are a few sentences and temporal formulations, everything else remains as permanent as a gorge. None of ‘my’ topics have lost social relevance, and I am sure that the case is similar with the topics discussed by my colleagues. (Some) public space figures and voices are changing, but the concerns and frustrations of common, normal people, alongside a celebration or two, remain largely the same. It does seem, however, that not all of us in the vicinities are sharing the same sentiment.
Ever since 2005, the UN has launched an investigation into the Global Happiness Index, with the same questions posed at citizens of 156 countries of the world. Among them, of course, are all the countries in our vicinities, which – averaged out – aren’t doing too badly. In fact, they are always rising on the global happiness chart: from the 88th place (coincidental?) in 2005 we climbed up, joint forces for statistical needs only, to the 63 place. The only country among us whidh has registered negative ‘growth’, the only one that fell on the world chart is indeed, Croatia. From the 60th place in 2005 it fell to the 79th last year.
Honestly, what the, hm, fudge is wrong with us Croats? Why is whingeing our most developed collective skill? Some ten years ago, a friend, Boris Dezulovic, who is as Croat as they get, published a great article titled ‘Why are Croats such grumps?’, and it was so great that it went viral as an unsigned ‘forwarded’ message. It was even plagiarised by a university docent in his para-academic works, in some parts word for word!
Not then, and even less today, Boris or any other man on the planet, can explain the mystery of the Croatian grumpiness. Everyone knows that many nations would have sold their soul to have what we have, and they wouldn’t be as petty as my co-citizens. And we keep doing things as we always have, the way we’ve enjoyed for centuries…
Two irrevocable details, regarding that. The first one is that the greatest advocates for national optimism and content with what we have right here in Croatia are those who are also advocates for, hm, how do I put this politely – well, a slightly more totalitarian regime than that of a standard European 21st century democracy. If one were to search for real liberals and lefties among the participants of the so-called Festivals of Freedom, they wouldn’t have much luck.
Among the bitter opponents to face masks, social distancing and hand-washing, declared right wingers are the overwhelming majority. And they happen to be the ones who are the loudest in inviting the nation to be happier and enjoy life more. As if!
Second detail – according to the World Happiness Report, Croatia has been very well standing on the chart until 2012, when it went downhill quite suddenly. For those who don’t remember, this was the first year of the Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic’s mandate. He inherited this position from a woman. The happiness index began to slowly recover at a glacial pace, until 2016, when his mandate finished. And now, in 2020, we are in the first year of his mandate as the President. Again, he inherited this position from a woman. Clearly, Corona wasn’t enough.
And we are somehow supposed to be less grumpy?