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There is nothing more terrible, for a person or for a people, than to feel humiliated. This terrible feeling comes with the sensation of not being treated as you deserve, of having lost your rank, of not having the destiny you deserve. Unfairly. Because of the fault of others.
The humiliation is even worse when it is public, when others witness your downfall, laugh at it, even rejoice in it; when they look down on you, after having envied you from below.
We have all experienced, one day or another, as children or adults, such a situation. For a major or anecdotal reason. Some have kept the memory of it as a deep wound; others have buried it deep in their unconscious.
There are a thousand traces of this feeling in literature; it is even a great source of inspiration; from the Countess of Segur to the Marquis de Sade, from Jules Renard to Franz Kafka. And so many others. There are also a thousand traces of it in history, from the humiliation of the Greeks after the invasion of Athens by the Medes, to the Russian decadence after the break-up of the Soviet Union, and the German defeat in 1918.
Many people are in this situation today. In France and all over the world. Because they feel downgraded, unfairly treated, locked into a destiny they do not want, angry at the way others look at them.
Faced with this situation, there are many possible reactions: anger, rage, depression, self-hatred, withdrawal, pride, the desire for revenge. Some people let themselves sink; others look for scapegoats among those who witnessed their humiliation even more than among those who caused it; still others rely on saviours to avenge them.
Very rarely do we look for the root cause within ourselves. And yet, in general, that is where it lies: in the abandonment of oneself before being despised by others. Very rarely do we ask ourselves the question: How could I have put myself in this situation? Could I have avoided it? What can I do so that I never relapse again?
France is in such a situation today, without really realising it yet: the absence of masks and vaccines are the visible signs; the decline of our agricultural exports, the decline of our scientific awards, the weakening of our PISA ranking are others. The Euro hides another, much deeper one, which sums up all the others: the structural deficit of our balance of payments. We hide it as best we can by glorifying this wonderful astronaut or this sporting achievement. Fewer and fewer people are fooled by these mirages.
It is time to become aware of this humiliation in the making, to stand up to it before it invades the body of the nation, before it becomes conscious, public, claimed. If this is the case, if someone ever puts a name to this humiliation, and designates it as an intolerable situation, it will have profound consequences. Logically, it could lead to the election of someone frustrated, who will be able to exploit this feeling, trigger a feeling of rage and channel it against all those who, he or she will explain, ‘have brought us to this point’.
We know where such circumstances have led people: to self-enclosure, to scapegoating, to simplistic solutions and, in the end, to even greater humiliation.
It is time to realise that we are all responsible for this situation. That it is up to each of us to do what we can to improve our own lot and the collective destiny. Not to wallow in this situation and then complain about it. We still have all the means to avoid the decline. This requires a lot of effort, vision, and justice. In short, it requires not accepting the humiliation of a strange defeat. Our history provides glorious examples.