Six Degrees of Separation and politics.

Six or fewer steps along the lines of “of a friend of a friend” separate you from me, or any other person in the world for that matter, yes including the kid from “sceptical third world kid“, look it up, it’s interesting.

With that in mind, if you are in any way familiar with Romania, or just took a passing glance at European news this past few days, you will know that last Friday something bad happened. At last count 32 people have died as a result of a fire in a night club, and more than 100 people were injured, a large percentage of whom are in a bad way.

Now, I don’t personally know any of them. But I do know people who did, and who have been touched in a very personal way by what happened. The entire nation is touched in some way – how could they not be. Tragedies happen all the time all over the world – boats capsize in the Mediterranean, people get shot in Syria but this time it’s close to home.

I was talking to a friend the other day who said its’ a rather hypocritical response given the amount of suffering in the world, to so energetically mourn just these people, and I suppose in the grand scheme of things that would be true, save for six degrees of separation.

So if emotion can be carried as a form of radiation in this… we’ll call it a field of human relationships (don’t read too much into the metaphor, it breaks down horribly after a while) it’s only natural for the effects of an event to measure higher if your measurement instrument is closer – that doesn’t necessarily mean African refugees don’t matter, it’s just that it’s farther away in the web – we don’t decry the potential destruction of civilisations when Type 1A supernovae occur, we just use them as standard candles to measure astronomical distances, and we don’t call that cynical, even though on an absolute scale – it is.

Speaking of cynicism.

What happened, as far as we know (the inquiry is still under way), is that small fireworks used on stage by a band ignited the soundproofing on a support pillar which then set the soundproofing on the ceiling on fire, chaos ensued and people were injured and died.

For this set of circumstances to come to be, several things have to occur. First someone has to have an idea to start a club, for this they need a company which they have to register and get the relevant local government approvals. For the local government approvals to be possible a national legislature has to pass laws to that effect. These laws have to be enforced by local and national authorities, otherwise they are worthless.

In a country such as Romania of which I am a citizen, we have come to mistrust the rigor of this enforcement and (suppositions follow, take with a pinch of salt) the higher you go in the age pyramid, the more of a percentage of the population you will find who is not hostile to this state of fact, but rather content that this is an immutable part of who we are. The lower you go however, the more the idea becomes unpalatable.

Given the situation we can perhaps conclude (the jury is still out mind you) that several corners were cut in order to get the business going and to keep costs down and beer cheap enough that people would come, this included skimping on fireproofing and the use of flammable materials. Colectiv is one of many clubs in downtown Bucharest, and I contend that many if not all have done the same.

The owner is probably guilty and should go to prison. But he is not alone. In order for this appalling set of circumstances to converge several government officials in different branches would have had to either be exceedingly incompetent (which is guilt enough on its’ own), or corrupt, or both.

As of late the environment in the public square has been filled with the strong momentum of a national crusade on corruption, I would even venture to say that the seeds sown in 1989 into the body of this nation have started to mature into an actual backbone – people are protesting all kinds of things out in the streets, but corruption most of all, and most vigorously.

Since Friday night a silent hatred has been brewing. Thousands of people have been marching, giving more blood than ever before, getting involved on social media (the number of conspiracy theories is only an indicator I hope of the number of actually sane people who are actively participating) and as of the time of writing, 20.000 people by some reports are clamoring for the prime minister’s and the interior minister’s resignation in front of the Government Palace, and all around Bucharest, this nation has a voice that is growing from the proverbial grass’ roots.

The people out there tonight are making sure the friends of their friends did not die in vain, and I am proud.