The French have won the world championship in pessimism. The Times newspaper, reporting on the results of a survey carried out in France by the Gallup research company chose as its subheading the name of Victor Hugo’s 1862 classic “Les Misérables”. This news from the BBC is quite ordinary. For who could have expected anything otherwise. According to the results of the study titled “hope and hopelessness survey”, countries which come after France in unhappiness are Iceland, Romania, Serbia and Britain respectively.
This means that bankrupt Iceland, Romania in the grip of corruption, Serbia which is war weary and worried about stability and Britain which fears bankruptcy are all happier than France. The same survey lists the happiest countries as Nigeria, Vietnam, Brazil, Ghana, China and Kosovo. It is probably true that people living in these countries have more reason to be happy than someone living in France. According to the results of the study, in the “hope regarding the year 2011” category, Nigeria and Afghanistan have a lead on the United States of America. Of course, while it pleasing that these countries have such high hopes, it is still a little strange that people there should be more hopeful than people in the USA.
Yet that they should be more hopeful than people in France gives some credibility to the survey. The BBC, also features an interesting assessment of France by French philosopher Pascal Bruckner published in The Times: “A habit of this old continent is more prevalent in France: the better we live, the more we complain.” Of course, not everything is so simple. As The Times points out, the social security reforms carried out in France in 2010 have made many French citizens more concerned. But there is more to the matter. For a majority of the French people, a president like Sarkozy and first lady like Bruni are still tough to swallow. It is possible that for many French people, happiness is related to France being “like France”.
It is also possible that many French people would find happiness in their country making them feel as it is their country and by developing their aspirations. It could not have been expected that Sarkozy, who draws attention with his Bonapartiste style could have been like Napoleon. In the end, the achievements of Sarkozy, who is described as a “pocket Napoleon”, are no greater than warranted by the belittling nickname. No one should be angry at the French. Who would want to live in a country which is once more deporting the Roma – in the twenty first century?