Friday, January 27, 2012

Looking through another lens

Today I had a really good conversation with a Hungarian friend. She was talking about attending the pro-governement rally last weekend (see previous post) and very candidly expressed her frustration with the Western world putting pressure on Hungary about their new constitution. She explained to me that "liberal" has a completely different meaning in Hungary than in the West. In Hungary liberal means people for the old politics - communism and nazism. Wow! That's definitely a different meaning than my Western terminology. As she continued to express her views, I began to understand more and more that Hungary is not a Western country. It looks Western on the outside, with its well-paved roads, big shopping centers, fast food, and white people everywhere. But on the inside, people look through a very different lens than my Western one.

Only 20 years ago Hungary was controlled by Communists from Russia, before that it was the Nazis, before that they lost half their country to political map changes, before that the Hapsburgs, before that the Turks and Mongols and all sorts of invaders. Naturally, this history effects the view of Hungarians. After years of oppression and dictators, they finally get to do what THEY want to do with their country. And they should.

When I moved to Budapest, I expected Hungarians would view the world somewhat similarly to me, especially in comparison to my previous experiences in China and Kenya. I expected big differences in Asia and Africa. But Europe? I've been surprised. In a good way.

From my Western perspective, I disagree with many things in the Hungarian constitution. But when I try to take a look through a Hungarian lens, I understand a bit more why the nation is supporting some of these things. If I were Hungarian, I may have attended the pro-government rally too.

Always willing to learn another person's perspective.

1 comment:

  1. it is amazing what you learn when you are willing to listen. thanks for sharing your experiences...enjoy your blog and so happy to hear your friend is safe! betsy