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Vlad Vidican - Journeys towards unanswerable answers

Author: Vlad Vidican

I was born and grew up in Sfântu Gheorghe, Covasna County. In the heart of Transylvania and the Szeklerland. I was born into a mixed family. The father - Romanian from Biarritz, born in Oradea, and the Hungarian mother from a family that came from the Carpathians before the Dacians. (joke). And although I wasn't a lawyer yet, I already looked like one.

One of my earliest childhood memories is sitting in my grandparents' garden in the apple orchard as a preschooler. Surrounded by the chirping of crickets and bees, I had a feeling of security and peace. Everything was just as it should be.

The silence of this moment accompanied me until the first day of school, when my father said to me with a stern, imposing face after I had come home: "Son, from today on, life begins in earnest". He told me that from that day on I would have responsibilities, that I would have worries and hardships, that I would be compared with others, that I would be expected to be better than others and that I would be labeled.

Years will pass, responsibilities will multiply, schoolmates will become workmates, grades will determine the way people look at me and so on.

The silence you experienced until then will never return. 

And it hasn't come back. This is the photo from the first day of school. You can see that I hadn't had the talk with Dad yet.

Going back to my interethnic roots, there was no cultural animosity in my family. Goulash was eaten with mămăliga and burduf cheese, sprinkled with a little pălincă, sometimes with țuică, and poalele-n brâu always sat on the table with langoustines, sour cream and a little garlic.

But things were different in society. Especially in the block where I was discriminated against by Hungarian children because I was Romanian and by Romanians because I was Hungarian. That wasn't good at all. It was pointless to explain to them that on the playground it didn't matter who was Hungarian or Romanian, but who was better at playing soccer or who could catch faster.

I often had to run around the yard on my own while the others played and had fun. But none of that stopped me from trying to be the best at hide-and-seek, and I defended like no other in goal. I tried to get rid of absurd labels and prejudices in my own way.

Not even in high school, when I was searching for my own identity, did I fit in. I came from a good family, I studied pretty well, I went to sports and I had a social life. The nickname "Hungarian" stuck. Because I didn't go to a Romanian grammar school. And if I had gone to a Hungarian grammar school, I might have become Romanian. On my way to the top, however, I didn't give up turning to peace and the fulfillment of my grandparents' orchard, among other things. An ideal, but so necessary in these difficult times, when you have to be aware that your identity is more than what others think of you.

After a good run both at school and during law school in Cluj, after a master's degree in the United States of America, I decided to come back to my country and take life into my heart. The decision had long been made and I wanted to become a lawyer. Curiosity, creativity and intellect made my decision easy. I had to defend people's rights and I knew only too well what it was like to have my own rights violated. So I signed up for the bar exam.

I didn't have much time to prepare because I had just finished my Master's degree, just two months before the exam, and I was coming after a year of studying only American law.

On a sunny September morning, I showed up for the exam full of confidence. After 4 hours of intense concentration, I left the exam room just as confident. It was tough, but I had to do it, I told myself. A few hours later, the scale was displayed and as it was a grid exam, calculating the score was easy. 69 out of 70 points was my result. That one point separated me from being a lawyer. One point. That was all that was missing. Everything was falling apart around me. All the dreams and plans suddenly crumbled. What will the others say, who will say...? I've let him down, what will happen if I let him down again? These were all questions that gave me no peace, but the grandparents' orchard was there to reassure me.

"As long as you can read and understand what you read, there are no limits, you can become anything you want.", as a teacher at college used to say. The road was hard, but within a year I was a lawyer.

In my first year as a lawyer, I represented a parent in a legal dispute over the custody of his child. While I was representing my client's case, I was suddenly interrupted by the judge, who asked me in a slightly ironic tone: "But Mr. Lawyer, you have children, don't you?". I was 26 years old and didn't have a wedding ring on my finger. "I don't have any," I replied. "But you don't have to be a parent to realize how important it is to be part of a child's life and harmonious development. I am my parents' child." In my experiences with people, I have learned how damaging and destructive labels and prejudices can be and that it takes a lot of time and patience to overcome them. I have realized that the person standing in front of us cannot be reduced to prejudices and labels and that they deserve the chance to discover themselves.

We live in a world where the person on the other side of the counter is just a number in an endless list of cases for the clerk at the counter and just another "client" for the lawyer. I invite you to change destinies! I dream of a world where we smile more, where each of us is aware and grateful that with a little attention, good will and intention, we can change destinies. Including our own destiny. When you take more care of your neighbor, you also take care of yourself.

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