President Gitanas Nausėda acted bravely in approving the words of US President Donald Trump: “The future does not belong to globalists. The future belongs to patriots”. And I like this particular remark, that the future belongs to patriots,” G. Nausėda elaborated, “If specific countries do not have patriots, then the world will not have them either”, Mečys Laurinkus wrote in lrytas.lt
D. Trump also explained what he had in mind: “The future belongs to sovereign and independent countries, which protect their citizens, respect their neighbours and feel respect to differences, which make every country special and unique”.
I would like for D. Trump to win the elections again, while G. Nausėda to not lose his courage. Presidents of restored independence Lithuania avoided the word “patriot” and especially discussions on the topic of national identity.
Frankly, in order to avoid some globalist calling the leader of Lithuania a nationalist, G. Nausėda hurried to specify that globalism does not contradict patriotism and Lithuania in a global world has many more ways of expression. That is true – straightforward talk in Lithuania about the nation, its values and similar things immediately become ridiculed. It would not be nice if G. Nausėda turned into the famous Patriotas Bugailiškis Prūdas (a character from Lithuanian political satiric humour TV series).
In my opinion, it is about time in Lithuania for the appearance of a sophisticated and wider discussion about the phenomenon of globalism and its interplay with national cultures. Scientific discussions on these topics are happening all over the world, but sadly in Lithuania, currently a narrow politicised evaluation is prevalent and it is influenced by only a few politicians, historians and reviewers. Yet this is also the future of the European Union and questions of survival for Lithuania as a country with its own individual culture.
With this short but important statement, G. Nausėda made an important step, maybe later the politicians and scientists will move too. To be honest, society has been waiting for this for a long time. It not only waits, but does too.
A week ago I participated in St. Linas religious feast in Pelesa, Belarus. The Lithuanian community, which during the winds of history has kept its language, which baptists all over the world hurry to explore, and traditions, understanding of their own identity, was paying respect to I. Šimelionis, a true caretaker until his last breath, born 100 years ago, a man of bright memory. He helped the community to survive the Soviet period, after the restoration of Lithuania’s independence it was him together with other concerned community activists who took care of rebuilding the church, founding a gymnasium, where the Lithuanian language is taught.
In this community, the Lithuanian language, nation and patriotism are sacred words. The Pelesa community’s activities that are Belarusian in their own way and non-hostile in their speeches, even the local government favours it. Maybe that is because Belarus is in search of its sometimes not even lost historical roots too.
In Lida, I was surprised by an impressive (not sure if authentic) castle and a monument for its founder duke Gediminas, which was built a few weeks ago. A monument in the classical style – a duke on a horse – was chosen. It does not look artistically obsolete and matches the rebuilt stronghold.
In a bookstore of Lida, I came across a sophisticated five-volume, called “History of Belarus’ statehood”. A group of Belarusian science academy historians write about the formation of the Belarusian ethnos since the oldest of times, walking the great historical paths of Grand Duchy of Lithuania to the birth of the Belarusian nation during the last two hundred years. It is interesting that in the study Belarusians are considered to be a different ethnos than Russians or Balts.
By the five-volume were more humble, yet very good-looking, abundantly illustrated editions for students about Vytautas, Jogaila, Švitrigaila and other leaders of Grand Duchy of Lithuania. It is tempting to pick up and read what is written there. Of course, both the academic publication and the small popular history publications get lost among loads of entertaining translated and own literature (by the way, mostly in Belarusian). Yet even though it is an authoritarian country, it still considers it meaningful to support history studies and restoration of its heritage, as well as the Lithuanian one.
Another question is how much Belarusians identify themselves with impressive historical heritage and how much of it is only ideological governmental undertaking. Anyhow, the effort will not be useless. Some of it children will remember at school, and even if forgotten, non-ambiguous signs of historical memory will be seen in the streets, squares or castle museums with modern electronic information.
Acted movies on historical material are being sponsored, and not only the ones about the II World War. Care is taken of historical novels too. I bought one of those about Jogaila. The interesting literary portrait of Jogaila is completely unlike the interpretations of Lithuanian and Polish writers.
Whatever way we may think of A. Lukoshenko and his retinue, the political system of Belarus, its relationship with Russia, the Kremlin, there is a lot of attention put into historical heritage. Maybe that is another, more successful road of countries’ relationships than worn-out political declarations and resentment.
A bunch of Belarusian intelligentsia approached Lithuania for the possibility to bury the remains of K. Kalinauskas in their country. An unexpected request, but maybe it is worth considering? So far the Lithuanian reaction is cold and bureaucratic.
However, in Lithuania, some are up for a battle about which historical memory symbol should be built-in the capital’s Lukiškės square. I was for Vytis. Clear, unambiguous, which is mandatory for the creation of a similar genre. Yet Vytis already stands in Kaunas. Many Vytis’ in Lithuania would also look weird.
I agree with a member of Parliament A. Ažubalis that the best place for the “Partisan bunker” is in Vingis park. Would be no need to imitate the forest either.
Then what is to be done? Is it worth to keep drowning in discussions? Maybe yes. If we think about the future of the nation, about which D. Trump and G. Nausėda are talking, arguing is still better than letting it be for what it is: I do not care, what will stand there.