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Dr. Melba Pattillo Beals, one of the Little Rock nine shared stories from her terrible  adolescence. She gracefully talked about how libraries helped her understand that there was another world outside the cage she was put in by the society.


Melba like young warriors are still around us. They are looking for help and this is one reason why  libraries are still needed.

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For the first time in 5 years of living in USA I’ve  spent the 4th of July with a small group of Americans.  As natural as it is to say Our Father before dinner, God Bless America was sang before tonight’s dinner.  No unnecessary introductions, just the song, a few skipped words, goose bumps and small tears.

God Bless America,
Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her
Thru the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America, My home sweet home.

In Romania a similar moment, even in a small crowd celebrating our First of December,  would be cataloged as right extremism. In USA you  don’t get a denigrating label (as far as I know) for this. Some say this is because you have freedom, some say because it is not politically correct. It may be also because people cannot really see you. As an Orthodox Christian(but not only),  you still have to wear a mask in the  society. Yes, you are free to worship whatever but why are you so different? …and at one point you get tired of explaining. (Nobody cares anyway).  Depending on the  community, you sometimes need to wear a mask in your own church.

We, who came to learn about freedom first from books and movies,   often don’t expect that, once established,  freedom is not free.  We have to continually give something in exchange for freedom for “our people” being them our community, our county, region, state, world.  Compared to other prices like someone’s life, dignity or identity,  a mask is a small one.  However, to get to this price,  many people paid much more along USA history.  (It’s market economy 101,  a friend of mine would say.)

Will the USA be able to allow maskless people to simply be? Don’t know. All I know is that, at the moment, in Romania, even though the Orthodox communities don’t have a mask they might, just might,  get used to the “right extremist” box they are put in and act accordingly.

Having a Communist past, we are just learning about how our face looks like. Some look in the mirror for this, some on the window heading West. In any case we don’t like masks. What we don’t know is that we are expected to wear one and figure very fast  how to wear it properly in the European society. You see, very few people (if any) are looking for God’s blessing of the European Union. And in Romania … we used to ask for God’s blessing even before cutting our bread at dinner.

How do you see the library in  the future?

On the short term reading and the public library will continue their existence in the same way, they will not become new stars on the sky of Romanian people’s activities, nor will they suffer devastating loses. Library will have its public and people will continue to read in a rather modest manner. The far future is forbidden for me. I can only speculate and I do not want to do that.

I translated this fragment from an interview given by a librarian that works in a public library in Romania. If read carefully, a number of issues that Romanian librarians face (or ignore) are present.

Can you imagine going to work everyday believing that  future of your library is forbidden for you? So much so that you don’t  dare to speak up about, at least,  the mission that you believe the library should assume or the need to support education no matter what…

If I were to use this title, in Romanian, about my relation with some other person the implication would be that we are helping each other get a clean image even though we are doing some kind of dirty business. Until yesterday it never occur to me that this can be a positive expression about help, forgiveness, community.

Due to some unfortunate events I ended up having a heavy burden that I was supposed to carry with me for a number of years. Because it was partially my fault I accepted it. At the beginning I was confident I will be able to pull it along however I soon realized that month after month the burden seemed heavier. One evening I had a thought that I should confess to somebody about it. I knew a member of our church community works with more or less similar problems so on Sunday I just asked if I can talk with her. She listened and understood my physical and psychological burden from my few sentences. More than that she promised to look into my case and see if there is any way she can help.

The next day when I talked with her on the phone and she told me she was able to waive my dept, I literary felt like my burden was taken away from me, like I had this dirt on me and it got washed off. It felt somehow similar to the feeling you have after confession and communion in church but different in the same time. It surprised me and reminded  me about the meekness we should have to see God’s mystery and grace coming so powerful from a regular person. I felt like a hand that just got cleaned and can now clean another hand.

One hand washed the other and both the face goes the saying. Through this experience I learned though that one hand washes the other and both can and should wash the feet of the persons we meet everyday in our life.

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