I had an interview with a refugee today – a young man who has suffered persecution in his home country. “I came to Slovakia voluntarily, you know – I chose this place. It’s not a rich country, but a good one. Money isn’t everything. You can buy a bed – but you cannot buy good sleep; you can pay a bodyguard – but you cannot buy safety. In Slovakia I feel at home, I want to grow old here”. For him, Slovakia means the promise of a life in security and individual liberty, unconstrained by any arrogant power. A country where the privileges of democracy are intact. How ironic – or bitterly sarcastic – that as we speak, Slovakia mourns the death of a journalist who was very likely killed for digging up an arrogant power’s dirty secrets. He was concerned about his security but wasn’t granted protection, and he also couldn’t buy it. He was in his and my age.
When I come home, my 63-year-old landlady waves a bottle of spirit, she looks exhausted. “To be honest, I am not surprised about this, because this is not a normal country”, she says. “I have seen these things happening before. Nothing has changed. Oh how I wish I could get out of here – the problem is, I’m old.”
I feel like this day is trying to make an important point. Is it something about the subjectivity of individual feelings of happiness and security? Something about the ubiquity of authoritarian power and fragility of democracy? Something about age? I do not know. I’m tired.