Еssay on Gypsies and Their Journey

Difference of all people and unwillingness to accept it have always caused the majority of conflicts in the society. At first sight, it seems quite strange that the majority of people do not want to admit the fact that all of them are individuals and have a right to have their own unique beliefs, habits and ways of life. People are usually guided by the wish to be superior to others and to oppress them due to this superiority. Therefore, they take every chance to find any drawback in others and to accuse them in their imperfection and their incompatibility with the society.

However, very often all these so-called drawbacks are nothing more than prejudice that is the foundation of most of social conflicts. If there are no grounds for conflicts, people can imagine them in order to humiliate others and to tower above them. Prejudice helps weak people to assert themselves and believe in their omnipotence.

This theory is largely developed by Isabel Fonseca in her book Bury Me Standing The Gypsies and Their Journey.

The history of Gypsy nation is difficult and full of oppression. Isabel Fonseca tried to find out the reasons of such attitude to Gypsies. In her book, she tells the readers about their life in detail and thus discovers for people a new side of their life. The readers live together with Gypsies or Rom, as they call themselves, and find out new and perhaps surprising facts about Gypsies’ lifestyle. Telling the story frankly, as it is, Fonseca ruins stereotypes and prejudice that once made Gypsies social outcasts. Trying to find the roots of this phenomenon, Fonseca studies their history, psychology, and interests and comes to the conclusion that the reason of such attitude is their difference from the Europeans.

From the very beginning, they were under trying conditions just because of their lifestyle, different from the European one. Afterwards they were labeled as dirty, illiterate people, very often thieves. But who knows that they became dirty just because they did not have running water in the houses, they were relocated to in Romania? First, they were forced into certain hard circumstances and then labeled.

Isabel Fonseca parallels the Gypsies’ history with the history of Jewish nation. She writes that the Gypsies were the New Jews of Eastern Europe and after researching their history she makes a conclusion that the Gypsies alongside with the Jews are ancient scapegoats (Fonseca 158).

Thus, she reaffirms that the main reason of oppression of Gypsies by people in Eastern Europe is the necessity of being violent and superior. Therefore, prejudice and stereotypes became the basis of this phenomenon.

In Fonseca’s book, we find much in common with Sigmund Freud’s theories of human violence and aggression, described in his book Civilization and its discontents. There he develops the idea that aggression is a human instinct and is characteristic of every person. However, the rules of society demand to control this aggression and to restrain fits of temper. Still, it is characteristic of the human nature to oppress others and to give way to anger. The permanent necessity to hold back their anger makes people nervous and ruins the society at last.

While Freud explains his theories quite vaguely, without any examples, in Isabel Fonseca’s book we find concrete proof of these theories. On the example of the Gypsies’ status in the countries of Eastern Europe, we see Freud’s theories in practice. The significance of Bury Me Standing is in this visual evidence, which helps readers better understand the heaviness of the situation, including the oppression of the Gypsies during World War II, terrorism against the Rom during the 1990s. In February 1995, in Oberwart, Austria, a town seventy-five miles south of Vienna, four Gypsy men were murdered. A pipe bomb had been concealed behind a sign that said, in Gothic tombstone lettering, Gypsies go back to India’; the bomb exploded in their faces when they tried to take it down. The first response of the Austrian police was to search the victims’ own settlement for weapons; Gypsies killed by own bomb,’ the papers reported (Fonseca 260).

Thus, the book Bury Me Standing describes human violence from the point of view of the victims. The book Love My Rifle More Than You: Young and Female in the U.S. Army by Kayla Williams describes the same manifestations of human aggression from the point of view of the aggressor, particularly of American soldiers during the war in Iraq. Being 18-year old young people, at first soldiers were kind to the local population. However, a year in Iraq greatly influenced them both mentally and physically. It was an ordeal for them. Taking into account Freud’s theories, we see that those young people just did not have any strength to restrain their irritation, tiredness and aggression. Therefore, these were not only the locals, who became objects of their aggression, but also women, serving in the army. The oppression of women is another significant topic of Kayla Williams’ book.

It is necessary to mention that these manifestations of aggression were supported by a widely spread tendency of treating the Iraqis as terrorists. American soldiers perceived oppression of the locals as their job, which they had to do. But it’s my job and all, y’know? he said, a little shaky. I got a job to do. That’s why I’m here. To get a job done. Y’know? (Williams 25).

As well as Isabel Fonseca Kayla Williams let the readers have a look at the real life from within. Being herself a soldier, she describes all the difficulties of the military life. And she saw nearly all of them. Being a woman, she faced more obstacles than a common soldier.

She saw the violent attitude towards the local population in Iraq from her fellow soldiers, and what surprises us is that she does not condemn her friends, while she acknowledges the imperfection of the U.S. army and tells us about its drawbacks. Such author’s position shows the attitude of all American soldiers towards their job. Still, she points out that soldiers were quite different, as al people, some of them were good and dedicated, others mechanically killed enemies.

Kayla Williams describes all the conflicts and tension that she and many other soldiers experienced. Kayla herself did not feel any hatred towards the Iraqis, at the same time she had to shoot at them. She describes violent treatment of prisoners and how she had to be involved into cruel interrogation of people. When she tries to object to such violence she hears an officer’s words that just about any interrogation was authorized because we were dealing with terrorists(Williams 115).

Basing on Freud’s theories about human aggression and on concrete examples, given by the books Bury Me Standing and Love My Rifle More Than You, we can make a conclusion that aggression is a human instinct. Both authors, Kayla Williams and Isabel Fonseca, see the roots of violence in the necessity to give way to one’s anger.

People always find an object for oppression and will invent prejudice or some non-existent reasons for violence. Both books give us the possibility to have a look on the manifestations of violence from the point of view of a victim (the Gypsies) and of an aggressor (American soldiers). While Fonseca shows a plain situation when the Gypsies are victims and Europeans are oppressors, Kayla Williams shows American soldiers as both oppressors and victims of circumstances. Young American boys and girls found themselves in such a situation that they had to fulfill their job, part of which was violent treatment of the Iraqis.

Both books make a significant contribution into history and literature, as they help millions of people to realize the problems of our society and to better understand the status of oppressed people and their way to liberation.

Having analyzed three books, devoted to the oppression of particular people, we can say that any manifestation of aggression has almost the same roots. Despite the fact that these books describe absolutely different social groups in different countries, the process of their aspiration to equality, the development of liberation movement had very similar nature and both these strata experienced the same difficulties and challenges. Perhaps, contrary to Freud’s statement of aggression, being a human instinct, we should think over our treatment of others.

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