Hope in Georgia

Almost a year since my first visit to the Republic of Georgia, I am back in Tbilisi, working here for one week. And while last year many of my conversations and observations were related to conflicts and recent history, this year I’m going beyond the surface and learning about the many layers Georgia today.  What strikes me, more anything else, is that no matter who I speak with, there is a flat out – lack of hope in this country.

It isn’t the first county I’ve ever experienced with no hope for the future, back in my Portugal people are also routinely negative and resigned that nothing good will happen in the future. Like the Portuguese, Georgians have plenty of reasons to justify this outlook: Georgia doesn’t make anything the world seems to want, the average mentality does not seem to have changed much over the past 20 years, and there is good evidence that current and future leadership has neither the capability or intention to do something about the mounting issues.

Despite all the despair, present and future, here we are. Countries like Georgia, where few believe anything will progress for the better in their lifetime, ramble on. Sure, I could point out the shiny new yellow mini buses found all over town, the vast amount of young people who have a global outlook and talent for languages (among other skills), or how police corruption seems to have faded when taking into account stories from the past involving bribery and illegal incarceration. I suppose none of these factors can make up for all the things that aren’t working and aren’t getting better around here.

Talking about hope is considered a lame and worthless line of conversation for many people. Back in 2008 it was a big group of Americans who decided to believe in change and hope. Now you can’t even say the words. Here in Georgia, though there’s no Obama, don’t bother mentioning hope, you’ll just sound silly.