– written for Citinerary, www.citinerary.net –
When a system is broken, the masses are the ones who can change things for the better. And sometimes only through tragedy can we build a new hope.
Last Friday night a fire started in a Bucharest based club, where 31 people died (a number which is said to double in the next couple of weeks) and almost 200 were injured – that’s more than half of the people present in the club! The fire was started by fireworks hitting the highly flammable soundproofing system. It may be relevant to know that the owners of the club had not bought a fireproof insulation system because it would have been expensive.
A bodyguard tried to use a fire extinguisher, but because of the nature of the soundproofing material, it was too late to stop the fire. Of the two exits, only one was functional, which caused a stampede that killed even more people than the fire alone.
Moreover, the local authorities had never actually inspected the club (and probably most of the clubs in Bucharest, for that matter). They issued the club’s papers on the owners’ promise to use the space for 80 seated people.
Now, it is obvious to ask yourself – who, in their right mind, had authorized indoor fireworks? Who, in their right mind, had allowed 300-400 people into a closed space, with no proper emergency exits, with no fire alarms, no sprinklers, and a highly flammable soundproofing system? Who, in their right mind, had allowed such a club to operate? Is there no system in place to regulate such things?
It is easy to just blame the owners, but in reality, the system is everything that’s wrong. And we are all to blame. It is the system which impregnated our minds with a different kind of mentality, a mentality that persists in our everyday life: mediocrity, the “let’s not put too much effort into anything, it will also work like this” and cheating, the “I’m sure I’m smarter than everyone else, I’m sure I can cheat the system somehow”.
This, in my country, is a part of normality and people who do not cheat the system are often considered stupid for not doing it.
The first ambulance arrived at the event in 10 minutes, firefighters in 15-20 minutes. Almost 150 people were transported to hospitals around Bucharest, and more than half of them are still in a critical condition. Unfortunately though, did you, reader, know that this is pretty much the maximum capacity Bucharest, a city of more than 2 million people, can offer in case of disaster?
Did you also know that the Romanian Orthodox Church, a major player in Romanians’ life, is currently spending around 80 million Euros on building the first cathedral in Bucharest? While local priests encouraged the people to give all that they can, the church as an institution only had words of condolence to offer the victims of this tragedy, nothing more – way after the event even occurred.
The Patriarch explained the absence of church representatives at the location of the disaster by saying that they had not been invited. Some others threw the blame on the nature of the concert and claimed that those deaths were called upon through the lyrics of the rock music they listen to. In the 21st Century!
As previously seen with our still acting prime minister, who is being charged with numerous acts of corruption and whose PhD title resides upon a plagiarized piece, a total lack of moral decency was shown by some of the authorities to blame. They all claim that the club’s legal papers were in order.
As usual, the blame is just thrown from one side to another, probably hoping that at some point the case will be forgotten and no one will be prosecuted. The mayor of the 4th District in Bucharest, Piedone, whose own signatures appear on some of the club’s authorization papers, pleaded innocent, and without any shame, he has not yet resigned. He’s just one of the many examples which sicken our generation.
After 1989 the system changed. Romanians were hoping for a better one, one that offers better opportunities and a better life. Unfortunately though, at the foundation of the newborn democracy was the same bunch of people who had once been part of the communist party. New problems arose: corruption, avarice and greed. As years passed, our trust in the system decreased.
With a dysfunctional system, the masses are the ones who can change things for the better. Since Friday night, an incredible phenomenon occurred in Bucharest. The strongest collective spirit to help the victims of the tragic event replaced greed and selfishness, which we might have thought to be genetic. Ironically enough, the name of the club itself was Colectiv.
National mourning was declared for the three days that followed the fire, most clubs were closed the whole weekend, and a majority of artists cancelled their concerts. Solidarity has rarely been a noun to define us, but Friday night’s tragedy mobilized an entire city for the greater good, and because the system could not handle such a crisis.
A website offers news of all sorts. A Google Spreadsheet accessible to everyone shares updates of what is needed in which hospital; queues of people have been surrounding blood donation centers. Rapidly, other cities have been mobilized as well – for medicine, bandages and food… People have been helping as individuals, not as brands or organizations. People have been bringing coffee, food and water to the tired doctors who have been running around saving lives since the incident.
On the night of the event, young medical students ran to offer their help, and asked for no break and no hours of sleep. “The doctors are HEROES. The people from the emergency service are HEROES. The firemen are HEROES. The people who saved other people in Colectiv are HEROES”, writes a famous Bucharest blogger on his Facebook page.
Unfortunately something rarely seen in our history, Romanians have now been working together to help without asking ANYTHING in return.Anything but for their corrupt politicians to resign. This is what a broken system does, and I believe this tragic event is in fact awakening our craving for change in the system!
This is the story of the country I come from – a wonderful country with a system that needs to be renewed. Let’s spread the word and make a better change!
Photos to the courtesy of Dragos Asaftei
– Ioana –