I love Poland. I think that Poland is a fantastic country full of wonderful people.
But then I am Australian and I think similar things about Australians. Poland and Australia have surprisingly many things in common. One thing that Poland and Australia have in common at the moment is that they are together on the Vancouver Winter Olympics medal tally (even though it is only day three).
Poland’s medal has come thanks to the efforts of Adam Małysz, who is a bit of a local hero; whereas Australia’s medal came from Dale Begg-Smith, someone I have never heard of before, even though he has won a few medals in the past. It is amazing how much this small snippet of information can tell us about the two countries.
Poland loves it’s heroes, but they are always the same heroes. Małysz has been the hero for years; but what about Kamil Stoch, why isn’t he also a hero? Chopin, Mickewicz, Marie Curie, Pope John Paul 2 are all big heroes in Poland. But, where are the number two’s? Where are the people that have been trained up to be heroes? People in Poland become heroes when they fight AGAINST something and still win despite the difficulties. And I accept that in the past it was necessary to struggle/strive/contend in order to achieve something great. But why is it still the case?
In Australia heroes do not make themselves anymore; they are nurtured, coached and encouraged. People are encouraged to ‘have a go,’ ‘try something new,’ ‘be all you can be.’ Businesses encourage their staff to maintain their work/life balance. This does not mean that people don’t need to persevere, but they do know that if they work hard then they will be rewarded for their efforts.
Of course I’m not saying that Poles are never trained up. What I’m saying is that there seems to be a culture where Poles are not encouraged to be better than their teachers. Nor are Poles encouraged to try new things (unless it is a new product or new medicine). If you want an example, then take a look at Polish architecture - it is colourful and boring (I mean the new buildings, not the old ones).
One more interesting snippet of information is that Dale Begg-Smith was actually born in Vancouver, Canada; but now that he has won a silver medal for Australia, his ancestry is irrelevant. I can’t imagine that happening in Poland any time soon…