What is the West?

December 7, 2012 1:34 pm

Yesterday night, I went to Scotmids to buy some Cigarettes. It was almost 12 o’clock and the minute I stepped outside it was snowing. That got me thinking.

Winter is coming, well it’s actually here already. Is that a good thing? As usual I went on a little rant about how cold it is, but why did it bother me so much this year and not last year? I’m f**king Lithuanian, I should be used to it by now! Does this mean I’m getting used to British weather? Probably. But it got me thinking about all sorts of British stuff, politics in particular.

Back in Lithuania my German teacher always told me I was very Western and how much she admired that in me. But was I? God knows, ever since I came to Britain, I have used the Eastern European card as often as I could. Starting with vodka and ending with a somewhat disrespectful comment about the monarchy, even though I never actually meant it- as a matter of fact I love the Duke of Edinburgh (he is the racist granddad of my dreams).  Was my German teacher right? Am I western? Or was she simply referring to my fairly well-known liberal political views? I’m an Obama supporter, pro-choice, pro-gay, anti-nationalist. Is that all there is to being Western? Or is there something deeper behind that phrase?

Quite often I hear actual westerners referring to Eastern Europe as some kind of backwards, mysterious place, a collection of second world countries (not all of them are, take Estonia as an example) but to a lesser degree, I do too. I’m from the Baltic states and it has become a frequent thing for me to explain the difference the Baltic states and the Balkans (something I find difficult since I know virtually nothing about the Balkans). I have adopted this collective, largely negative identity of eastern Europe. God knows, most Westerners think I’m waxing somebody’s pubic hair in my free time to make some money (I don’t).  It is well known that Eastern Europe is not the most progressive place in the world, but that doesn’t mean that all Eastern Europeans never smile or are extremely conservative. After all, I don’t fit into that category. Yet once people figure out I’m Lithuanian their faces change from a nice smile to grim glare. Are they even ‘western’ since they seem to me somewhat prejudiced? Or does being Western mean something completely different here in the West?

That I don’t know and I doubt I ever will.

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