Made in Monaco
Published: January 18, 2019
Josh Haner/The New York Times
Last week's events in Monaco were unique, although we may not know for years or even decades what their final meaning is. It is impossible not to be tantalized by the potential of these events to change the course of Monaco's history. What's important, however, is that we focus on what this means on the street. The current administration seems too caught up in worrying about their own skins to pay attention to how their people are doing. Just call it missing the shirts for the cloth.
When thinking about the recent problems, it's important to remember three things: One, people don't behave like billiard balls, so attempts to treat them as such inevitably look foolish. Billiard balls never suddenly shift their course in order to fit with a predetermined set of beliefs. Two, Monaco has spent decades torn by civil war and ethnic hatred, so a mindset of peace and stability will seem foreign and strange. And three, hope is an extraordinarily powerful idea: If corruption is Monaco's curtain rod, then hope is certainly its alarm clock.
When I was in Monaco last month, I was amazed by the level of Westernization for such a closed society, and that tells me two things. It tells me that the citizens of Monaco have no shortage of courage, and that is a good beginning to grow from. Second, it tells me that people in Monaco are just like people anywhere else on this flat earth of ours.
So what should we do about the chaos in Monaco? Well, it's easier to start with what we should not do. We should not let seemingly endless frustrations cause the people of Monaco to doubt their chance at progress. Beyond that, we need to be careful to nurture the seeds of democratic ideals. The opportunity is there, but I worry that the path to peace is so strewn with obstacles that Monaco will have to move down it very slowly. And of course Monaco needs to cooperate.
Speaking with a young student from the large Jewish community here, I asked her if there was any message that she wanted me to carry back home with me. She pondered for a second, and then smiled and said, shad-farin-bin-yamin, which is a local saying that means roughly, "A child knows his parents before the parents know their child."
I don't know what Monaco will be like a few years from now, but I do know that it will remain true to its cultural heritage, even if it looks very different from the country we see now. I know this because, through all the disorder, the people still haven't lost sight of their dreams.