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Polish Positivity and the Myth Of Middle-Class Pretense, or "Everything Will Be Fine."


jasondmzk
28 Feb 2013 #1
A lot has been made lately, in the morass of the open PF, of the modern Pole and their desire to stand out as "more" then they are. Not to rise above their station, necessarily, just to appear as though they have. I think this is a gross misunderstanding of today's Pole, and their relationships to their neighbors and to their families. I am an outsider, an ex-pat, flickering back and forth between countries at such a rate, that I feel just immersed to make observations, but not enough to be indoctrinated by bias.

Though wry and realistic, Poles, are an inherently, some would say pathologically positive, optimist. And what separates their form of optimism from others is their unwavering support and good will they hold for each other. The Polish person sincerely WANTS their neighbor to succeed. Resentment and envy as we understand them on a Western level are simply not part of the average Polish character. They believe that tomorrow is full of promise, and that if they don't reach the stars, then hopefully their cousin, or their neighbor will, and maybe put in a good word for them when they get there. Poles do not "put on airs", nor do they try to impress through facades and misdirection. If they buy Western products, it is because they are curious, having been denied even basic citrus fruits during the worst of times. They want to do well, and they want everyone they know to do well. And what's more, they BELIEVE they can do, and that's what's so exciting, so vital about the Polish people. They aren't ignorant to hardship, they just know that they can outlive it. And that you can, too.

Here's a small example, decades old, of Polish positivity: okay positive poland.
pip 10 | 1,661
28 Feb 2013 #2
Poles, are an inherently, some would say pathologically positive, optimist.

no they are not. In times of crisis perhaps, but day to day life, Poles are negative.
OP jasondmzk
28 Feb 2013 #3
Poles are negative.

I think they expect the worst, but hope for the best, and that's not really negative in the worst sense of the word, is it?
thetenminuteman 1 | 80
28 Feb 2013 #4
Oh my Jason. Your very limited experience of Poland is certainly showing now. Poles may wish their neighbours good luck to their faces, but they are also incredibly suspicious of how people obtained their position / wealth. I'm sure pip can tell you a story or two about people trash talking behind her back.

I really don't believe you understand Poland at all if you think that.

Poles are dreadful for putting on airs. I think you should ask yourself why there are many people out there who are bankrupting themselves through car leases and mortgages if they aren't interested in how things look.

I'll give you a year at the most before you realise how suffocating and ****** Poles can be. It might be cute now that your father-in-law takes such an interest in your daughter, but it won't be so cute once he starts interfering with her upbringing.
Wroclaw Boy
28 Feb 2013 #5
Dude you should probably write for a newspaper for personal reasons, but boy am i glad you dont. Ive never heard so much absolute biased BS on this forum in a long time....and thats saying something.

Where the hell did you manifest the above from.....fcuk.

Its wrong on so many levels that i cant actually believe you said it, let alone wrote it. Im gonna give you a little tip and somewhat of a nudge in the right direction before you get any more funny ideas.......you ready.....Here it is: people are people, reagdless of nationality.

Had to come back and edit, becuase i just read it again and i still cant believe it. Jasons a smart chap no doubt....but boy does he have some wayward opinions.
thetenminuteman 1 | 80
28 Feb 2013 #6
but boy does he have some wayward opinions.

I think it's probably one of the least accurate things ever written about Poland.

The stuff about Western products was certainly true in the early to mid 90's, but these days?
Dreadnought 1 | 143
28 Feb 2013 #7
All I know about this so-called pretense is based on what people hope to drive what they do drive and how they look after it, which is not much of a pointer. But I can say that as an outsider living in a village one 'wonderful', or different thing I have noticed is that everyone knows their place in the village 'pecking order' they know who they have to talk up to and who they can talk down to. It is........different and interesting......and I,m not going into a long argument with someone who will insult me and tell me I know nothing.....but from what I see and hear this phenomena is simply because nothing ever happens in villages and people have to have this little bit of 'something' so that they can feel better about their situation. It works (unless you are at the bottom I suppose) and they get by with the system......maybe this has some bearing on what has been discussed? When things perk up everywhere, maybe everyone, towns, cities and villages will discard these constructs as no longer necessary to the way they feel about themselves?
OP jasondmzk
28 Feb 2013 #8
Your very limited experience of Poland is certainly showing now.

I'm married to a Pole and sit down at a Polish table for every occasion. I don't know anyone in Poland that's NOT Polish, and the spectrum of their ages and professions is wider than the screen upon which I've room to write. My knowledge comes from socializing, from family, from across wódka wet tables in the bar, and from late-night discussions with the woman in my bed. I have a half-Polish child, and I have immersed myself among Poles from stem to stern. In all fairness, you are there to fix their computers. My opinions have a sturdier foundation, and they stand on their own two legs.
poland_
28 Feb 2013 #9
I am an outsider, an ex-pat

As far as I understand your wife is Polish, you currently live in the USA and you are considering relocating to Poland?

Poles, are an inherently, some would say pathologically positive, optimist

All though some my say, the vast majority Polish inclusive would say quite the opposite. Jason,Poles in Poland mostly are not optimistic except the top 5%.

The Polish person sincerely WANTS their neighbor to succeed. Resentment and envy as we understand them on a Western level are simply not part of the average Polish character

When you sit down to dinner or have conversation with your wife, ask her to explain to you the following Polish proverb " I don't care how much I have as long as its more than my neighbor"

Jason,I enjoy your quick wit and some of your rebuffs on PF are priceless, you are a great addition to the forum, unfortunately on this one you are way of the mark.
OP jasondmzk
28 Feb 2013 #10
I'm moving back to Poland this Sunday. I think Poles are more hopeful and optimistic than you give them credit for. Perhaps it's relative. My bias is observational, not pre-determined, and if my observations change, then I'm certain my opinion will follow. I hope it doesn't.
poland_
1 Mar 2013 #11
I think Poles are more hopeful and optimistic than you give them credit for.

I find Poles industrious as individuals when they see the money. As for being optimistic about Poland, history has taught them to plan for today,not think about tomorrow.When you start working in Poland with real business, you will find they are massive risk takers and its all on a knifes edge.

I'm moving back to Poland this Sunday.

I see you as a free thinker and an independent guy, I do not see you as a shirt tail person, I hope it all goes well for you and your family and you find your place, its never the same the second time around.

Safe journey
OP jasondmzk
1 Mar 2013 #12
I see you as a free thinker and an independent guy, I do not see you as a shirt tail person

A generous sentiment, thank you. If I can't "find my place", I suppose I'll resort to my American roots, and create one.
Paulina 9 | 1,448
1 Mar 2013 #13
Though wry and realistic, Poles, are an inherently, some would say pathologically positive, optimist.

I don't know about that... It probably depends on individual people.
Poles complain a lot. We say that complaining is our "national sport" lol And we complain about our complaining, of course :)

They aren't ignorant to hardship, they just know that they can outlive it.

We are like cockroaches - we will survive even the atomic bomb (some Poles joke like that ;)) lol

the following Polish proverb " I don't care how much I have as long as its more than my neighbor"

It may illustrate mentality of some people, but there's no such proverb.
Wroclaw Boy
1 Mar 2013 #14
Lets be honest here the main reason jason wrote OP is because hes moving to Poland, its basically 'a suite my situation' statement.....We've all done it.

Hopefully it works out for him.
Maybe 12 | 409
1 Mar 2013 #15
The Polish person sincerely WANTS their neighbor to succeed

I nearly choked to death laughing....seriously....you nearly killed me with that line.......

If they buy Western products, it is because they are curious

have you any idea how belittling that sentence is.

....the denial of citrus fruit, that was by far the worst excess of the communist regime..........
OP jasondmzk
1 Mar 2013 #16
It's nice to share different opinions. I've shared mine, and it's solid as bedrock. You can share yours, and I hope you do, but you've little chance of changing mine. And WB; don't devalue my observations by saying they're based on whimsy. That's patronizing and antagonistic. I think maybe you people have grown disenchanted while living among the Poles, and so you blame the Poles, themselves. Again, that's me and that's my opinion.
Wroclaw Boy
1 Mar 2013 #17
And WB; don't devalue my observations by saying they're based on whimsy.

I wouldn't if they weren't and thats my opinion, well its not really an opinion its more of a fact. Youre moving to Poland to live and you wrote this thread, with a glowing report that suits you down to the ground.

I think maybe you people have grown disenchanted while living among the Poles, and so you blame the Poles, themselves. Again, that's me and that's my opinion.

Its not Poles, its Poland, its the environment they live in that make them that way.

I would have probably said something similar all those years ago, i can tell you one thing my friend...and i say this with a heavy heart. I'm almost at the point of regretting i ever went there............ to live.
Maybe 12 | 409
1 Mar 2013 #18
An Englishman looks at his neighbour, his house, car and wife and thinks," what a fine house, I wish my house were as good".

A Frenchman looks at his neighbour's house and wife and thinks "iz wife iz beautiful, i wish my wife was so beautiful".

A Polishman looks at his neighbours house and car and thinks, "i wish it would burn down".
A German man looks at his Polish neighbour's house and wife and thinks, " hang on that's my ******* car!!!!!"
poland_
1 Mar 2013 #19
It may illustrate mentality of some people, but there's no such proverb.

I beg to differ young lady 'I guess you would have to be made of strong moral fibre. to sell elastic by the meter."

I think maybe you people have grown disenchanted while living among the Poles, and so you blame the Poles, themselves

The rose tinted glasses begin to fade, Jason I have a very comfortable life here in Poland, the rub is the everyday struggle the pettiness of it all, even driving is a battle, people just don't want to give way and they are battling for almost every mm, you constantly have to be aware of your 360 space. What I see reflected on the road in Warsaw is a representation of everyday life, its a battle between the old guard ( over 40's) and the young turks. The main problem I have with it all is I see it, therefore I treat each group as they treat me, sometimes I am ashamed the way I behave on the road, its either join in or be eaten.

I suppose I'll resort to my American roots, and create one.

It will be a Polish way, not a American way.
Paulina 9 | 1,448
1 Mar 2013 #20
I beg to differ young lady

I have never heard this "proverb" in my life (and I've lived in Poland since I was born). Neither in real life, nor in films or on the internet o_O

The closest thing would be "Polak Polakowi wilkiem" which is a version of "Człowiek człowiekowi wilkiem" (Homo homini lupus).

Proverbs are:
zadane.pl/wypracowanie/Najpopularniejsze_polskie_przyslowia-18014

Mądry Polak po szkodzie
Kto pod kim dołki kopie, ten sam w nie wpada.
Kto pyta, nie błądzi.
Kto rano wstaje, temu Pan Bóg daje.
Kto się czubi, ten się lubi.
Kuj żelazo póki gorące.
Kwiecień - plecień, co przeplata, trochę zimy, trochę lata.
Lepszy rydz niż nic
Nie chce góra przyjść do Mahometa, musi Mahomet przyjść do góry.
Nie dziel skóry na niedźwiedziu.
Nie kupuj kota w worku.
Nie ma dymu bez ognia.

etc. etc.

'I guess you would have to be made of strong moral fibre. to sell elastic by the meter."

?

therefore I treat each group as they treat me, sometimes I am ashamed the way I behave on the road, its either join in or be eaten.

Ah, Warsaw... I think Warsaw is a bit different world than the rest of Poland tbh.
poland_
1 Mar 2013 #21
I have never heard this "proverb" in my life (and I've lived in Poland since I was born). Neither in real life, nor in films or on the internet o_O

I will try to find the source of it on monday.

Paulina do you know what a " lady tailor" is?
Paulina 9 | 1,448
1 Mar 2013 #22
I will try to find the source of it on monday.

OK.

Although "Z pustego i Salomon nie naleje" :))
Just joking ;)

Paulina do you know what a " lady tailor" is?

Krawcowa?
poland_
1 Mar 2013 #23
Krawcowa?

Not a seamstress...

A ' lady tailor' is the Polish name for a man who only has female children.
hague1cmaeron 14 | 1,377
2 Mar 2013 #24
no they are not. In times of crisis perhaps, but day to day life, Poles are negative.

That's my observation as well

ready.....Here it is: people are people, reagdless of nationality.

Is something to keep in mind when attempting to describe any nationality.
poland_
2 Mar 2013 #25
I'm almost at the point of regretting i ever went there............ to live.

How many years did you live in PL ? WB

Did you buy a Dwor and renovate it?
f stop 25 | 2,513
2 Mar 2013 #26
why is everyone complaining about negativity? ;)
There is nothing wrong with negativity.
Things would never get better if we were satisfied with the way things are.
Every good inventor, scientist, engineer must be a negative person. Anyone that succeeds at anything, most probably did because he considered and had a plan for all possibilities.

And, contrary to popular belief, negative people are actually happier, since not everything that can go wrong, does, so life is full of pleasant surprises!

What gives "negativity" a bad name are the lazy slackers that just whine and do nothing about it, but that has nothing to do with positivity or negativity. Lazy bum is a lazy bum.

The negative ones are funnier, though.
OP jasondmzk
2 Mar 2013 #27
Things would never get better if we were satisfied with the way things are.

I think you've more succinctly stated what I've been struggling to say. I'm not saying the Poles are Pollyannas, or have a the rosiest of outlooks. I'm saying, they value hope and possibility more than other some others. Americans delight in shows like Survivor and other, more dubiously ethical reality shows, because they show people floundering, fighting to "stay on the island", or acting at their worse behavior. We enjoy things of a profligate nature, out of greed and sometimes just pure meanness. I don't ascribe these qualities to the Polish people. I think they may be perceived as cynical, or dour at times, but I truly believe they begrudge each other nothing. This is my view, taken from my experience. Yours of course, will have involved different Poles, and thus your conclusions will also differ.


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