It has been a while since the last time I was proud to say such a thing. As far as I remember, the last time was when Jacques Chirac declared France was not going to Iraq (probably the best thing he has done in 12 years honestly). And after a summer of nearly hiding my nationality due to this scandalous summer during which thousands of Roms have been send (back?) to Romania without any warnings or respect for the basic Human Rights. Yes, I was ashamed to be French - to come from a country claiming to support Human Rights, feeling entitled to give lessons to others and letting this absurdity happens.
That’s probably why I am happy today to see that the crowd I still belong to somehow, eventually woke up and now stands up in front of a government that is not working for the good of its people but for their own profit. I am glad to come from a country of perhaps immature and idealistic people but where having faith in the future and still being young enough at heart to believe things can change by the power of protesting means something. As it does. France is a Latin country - somehow geographically stuck between the disciplined Germanic countries and the hot southern nations. But in a lot of respect, we remain Latin, passionate by nature and often quick-tempered - it is also part of our charm I was told. From a lot of countries’ prospective, we are a country of lazy strikers who should not complain as we have one of the best social system. But who have ever thought about how we managed to obtain it? It was exactly by protesting, striking, revendicating, since the first revolution happened back in 1789. And people are now accusing us to be too demanding and think we should leave Sarkozy wipes out what previous generations have been fighting for for us? I don’t think so.
The thing to know and that foreign medias also often omit (the most talked about subject regarding France in foreign countries’ press are the outfits of our first-lady) is that French people have been through a very difficult time since Sarkozy got in power 3 years ago and that the level of unhappiness has been escalating for a few years now so no wonder this is getting that bad today - as sadly, this is not only about the retirement age change: Sarkozy is doing reforms after reforms, increasing taxes for everyone while the richest are gonna get exempted of it next year, putting his kids in very high position even if they failed at their exams and saying youngsters nowadays don’t get jobs because they are not working hard enough, getting less and less medical care available for the elderly and the poorest people in the country, getting university fees higher and higher which means only the richest kids now will have access to higher education (not even mentioning that nearly every member of his government is under suspicion of fraudulent acts)… The Prime Minister on Sunday night even dared to say that there was no problem with the gas supply which just showed that he has not stopped by a gas station for quite some time and think that he can get away with it. The journalist interviewing him (the boss of the TV channel in question is a close friend of Sarkozy himself) did not even questioned it - which shows how corrupted France is now.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that Frenchies are not privileged and some countries are in a much worse situation. But realistically, and on an economical note, France remains amongst the small bunch of “powerful” countries thanks to its history indeed but also thanks to its working force – which means that for such a small country (just over 65 millions inhabitants and no natural resources such as oil or anything like that), we might be working only 35 hours a week and up until we are 60 years of age but for getting such results we are far to be lazy f***ers, honestly. In a country where 25 to 30% of the population between 20 and 29 years old are jobless even if they have worked hard to get a master degree, trying to make us believe that getting older people to work 2 extra years will balance the economical situation… - sounds like taking citizens for fools to me really.
On top of that – France also used to be considered to be a country where the quality of life was by far higher than anywhere else. Sadly I saw it changing drastically every single time I have been back for the last 5 years – people are unhappy, sad and have a very limited buying power now. Is it gonna get better if the proportion of jobless youngsters is gonna increase? I doubt that.
Anyway, I really hope that things are gonna get better on the other side of the pond and that the government will eventually listen to the people they are meant to serve as again if French people are protesting, it is because they also have faith in a brighter future.
NOTE: Thanks to Molly and her morning post here - giving the insight of an American girl living in France (actually in lyon, one of the cities where it gets the most heated) about this all :)