Visiting the People's Palace left me conflicted in a similar way to my first visit to Versailles. On that occasion I was disturbed by the knowledge that so many people had been living in poverty while the nobility lived amidst gilded luxury. The final King, Louis XVI, and his unhappy wife, Marie Antoinette were taken away by force and eventually beheaded.
Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, Elena built this enormous building in Bucharest, as their personal residence. Their people too were living in poverty and hunger. And these rulers were also executed.
This building is enormous.
Although much of the labor was conscripted, and even done by the military, there is much beauty within.
We have continued to talk to our Romanian contacts here in Lupeni. Our guide in Bucharest, Adi, had never been to the building, and during the tour he hung back, clearly uncomfortable. We have heard stories of what Jack, one of our project managers on the ropes course, calls "learned helplessness." Adults today are less likely to try to be agents for change. They are used to the idea that the government is responsible for making things better, and individuals are helpless to effect change. That's why the people we are helping are working with youth. Young Romanians are willing to act to make changes in their society.