A Macedonian Covenant
As a friend of Macedonia and one who considers many Macedonians to be my family, allow me to put forward a modest proposal for Macedonia, and the Macedonians, one that I believe might help in this hour of need: the idea of a Macedonian Covenant.
First of all, however, let me explain why I chose the word “covenant” as it’s not a word normally used these days. One dictionary definition notes “a usually formal, solemn, and binding agreement” and then points to an even less-used word, but one which I very much like for the simple reason that no one uses it anymore: “compact” (history buffs may want to research the “Mayflower Compact” to better understand the use of that word).
But back on covenant: A covenant is more than simply a “binding agreement.” It is, to quote Irish author Os Guinness, “based on the foundational moral act of one person making a solemn promise to another person or to many others. This promise is both an expression of freedom and an assumption of responsibility. The freedom that is the heart of consent to the covenant carries within it the responsibility that is the heart of the obligation of the covenant.” I also appreciate the word because it can be used both as a noun, and as a verb.
And so back to my modest proposal of a Macedonian Covenant: without dredging up the recent past I think it is reasonable to state that Macedonia, and the Macedonian identity, remains under attack, from multiple angles and for multiple reasons. And because of this ongoing situation, a Macedonian Covenant might be, perhaps, a way of strengthening both Macedonia, and the Macedonian identity.
Here’s how it might work: The parties to the Covenant would be, simply, the Macedonians; a Covenantal agreement among and between Macedonians — Macedonians in the Republic, Macedonians in Greece, Macedonians in Bulgaria, Macedonians in Albania and everywhere else that Macedonians live around the world.
At its core it would be a pledge and a promise to each other: to encourage each other to support Macedonia and Macedonians to the extent that each individual has ability and resources, and to support the very soul of Macedonia — those attitudes, that spirit, those things, which make Macedonia unique in our world. It would be, in a manner of speaking, a rediscovery: it would entail a renewed understanding of and appreciation and affirmation for the goodness of Macedonia and the Macedonians. It would entail an undertaking of work and activities: the simple, or sometimes not-so-simple, but the necessary work and activities that make Macedonia what it is.
This is not an exhaustive list by any means, and, in all likelihood, an exhaustive list could never be created. Consider this a suggested list, a bit of a guideline, perhaps, to be built on. It would be, lightly paraphrasing Krste Misirkov, an understanding that the debt Macedonians owe to Macedonia is cultural work. So, from a practical standpoint, the Macedonian Covenant would encompass a renewed appreciation for: Macedonian language expressed in literature, poems, and other written works of words; Macedonian songs (and singing them, especially with your children); Macedonian art in its many forms; Macedonian cuisine and not just the cuisine, but an understanding and appreciation for where that bounty comes from and how to expand on it; Macedonia’s beauty and landscapes (in other words, spend more time traveling around and appreciating Macedonia!); and of course, faith, beginning with faith in God, a concerted effort to deepen each individual relationship with and love for God and what He has done for us. And on this last point I think even non-believers can appreciate those who believe in and love God and see how an underlying faith in something — someone — greater than you helps to create a healthier perspective and understanding of life. In a way, this Covenant could be a type of resurgence, reawakening, or renaissance of Macedonia and all that is Macedonian: identity, language, history, heritage, culture, faith, nature, and much more.
There would not be a “formal” written or spoken Covenant though if individuals or groups wanted to create such a thing for the attitudes and activities they pursued, as long as it was voluntary, I reckon that would be a good thing. Likewise, there would be no end date, no accountability checklist, no rules and regulations, and no penalties for not engaging in these activities because, to put it bluntly, the penalty would potentially be the eradication of Macedonia and the Macedonian people. It would be a “consciousness of a Duty” to quote Lord Moulton (1844–1921) who coined the phrase “Obedience to the Unenforceable” meaning a self-imposed law.
And in taking on this Covenant this includes the teaching and nurturing of the young ones, children, and grandchildren, so that they can, in turn and over time, pass this on to their offspring. Parents, grandparents, uncles, and aunts: will you pledge to teach, nurture, and raise your children, grandchildren, nephews, and nieces in these things and in these ways? Will you tell them the stories of old, of Macedonia and of its long history, rich culture, lasting heritage and much more? After all, memory, along with remembering and gratitude, is vital to the Macedonian Covenant. And one more thing: this also means sharing all of this with the rest of the world, a world often bored with and found empty by the bland sameness found in too many places. Macedonia has much to offer the world; never forget that fact.
We know, from history, that Macedonians have risen to the proverbial occasion when under attack, when cornered, when pressured. Now is the time for that to happen again. But remember (again, there’s memory): beware indifference and apathy, the twin demons that will rob you of your strength, your desire, your commitment, and your hope. They must be rejected and banished from your thoughts and lives.
Let me end by quoting Krste Misirkov from On Macedonian Matters who wrote, and said, a great deal about the importance of the Macedonian language and culture: “First and foremost, everybody knows that we love our country, Macedonia, and our people; we are constantly thinking about Macedonia and we feel that this is the country to which we belong. Ever since our childhood we have felt that whatever is dear to others is dear to us as well; whatever gives pleasure to other people gives pleasure to us as well they weep, so do we, they laugh, so do we. It is this universal happiness and sorrow, together with the customs and habits we share, that makes us one nation, one whole.”
I pray God’s rich blessings upon Macedonia and the Macedonians.