Commentary: People are literally queuing up to receive a presidential award instead of thinking how they could do something really useful" />

Abkhazia needs sages

Commentary: People are literally queuing up to receive a presidential award instead of thinking how they could do something really useful

photo: Ibragim Chkadua

My impression from discussions taking place in Abkhazia’s blogosphere is that society is searching for a messiah. What can be done to find one?

In Abkhazia, it is common practise to ‘kick’ the government and take pot shots at various public institutions, be it the Elderly Council or the Public Chamber. For some reason, society lays down the sole responsibility of its moral state at the feet of these institutions, thoroughly washing their hands of any and all responsibility.

And then they start looking for sages – in other words, those who can lead society out of this impasse.

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It was predictable, the society considered its first attempts to appoint the sages disappointing. They thought the composition of those representative bodies was far from perfect, the positions had wrongly been distributed, and the bodies supposedly didn’t do what they were supposed to.

Then, there were attempts at setting up a ‘dream team’. However, it turned out that there were no people to be seated at the Abkhaz Areopagus round table.

There are, of course, sage-like people in Abkhaz society. However, they are barely visible in the present-day paradigm. Instead, wherever you look, you see a concrete wall of self-appointed impostors.

A senior official from the president’s entourage has recently complained in confidence that there was a whole pile of written petitions in the president’s chancellery, requesting to award this or that pubic figure. In his words, he’s sick and tired of them, but there is no way to scrap those documents.

When the president seems sick and tired of the various petitions made about a certain person, he just signs a petition from one of the piles in the hopes that it will get people off his back.

However, this strategy appears to be backfiring as an award given to a neighbour or a colleague can motivate another to start besieging the presidential administration more vigorously, trying to get an award for themselves.

A growing number of awards have been claimed and issued, and the queue of those seeking them is so long the president may have to start signing off awards on a daily basis.

The only consolation in this is that a certain plant in Tkuarchal, a rather depressing town, has ample work. It will be producing state awards for years to come. In Soviet times this enterprise used to serve the defence industry, but now it works to serve the Abkhaz’s vanity.

Sometimes this continues even after death. A person who had never thought of being immortalised in bronze, or who lived a normal life, never trying to reach for the stars, may still be commemorated by his relatives.

For this there are streets, schools, kindergartens, playgrounds, parks and stadiums. Be assured that they will find a way to memorialize him or her.

The governmental commission is still searching for a street in Sukhum to be named in honour of the great writer and humanist, Fazil Iskander. However, the people mentioned earlier would quickly have found a solution.

In case no one has noticed, there are now more streets in Sukhum. The city is the same in size, and has in all actuality even shrunk a little bit in the outskirts – but the streets have increased in number. The answer for this is simple – they started divvying up the streets so that they could award them with more names.

I hope that when all the streets have been personified, the factories’ turn will come. Perhaps they may even be renovated as it won’t look quite presentable otherwise – imagine an enterprise, completely torn apart, bearing the name of its late director. A kind of blatant hinting: he laid down his life to tear apart this enterprise.

I hope that at least the relatives, for whose prosperity the director overstrained himself, will feel ashamed. They will hopefully restore the enterprise so as not to bring shame to their ancestor’s name. As they put the facility back into operation, they may even decide that all this fuss about bronze-casting isn’t worth the money.

One thing I am sure of: sow the reasonable and the good, and leave it up to people to pass judgement. Only then will sages appear among us again. Not impostors, but people who truly deserve respect and who know how to keep our society from drowning in the quagmire.

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