A time for hope
May the fourth is the anniversary of the death of Goce Delcev, Macedonian teacher, revolutionary, and hero who was killed in 1903, just months before the Ilinden Uprising, for which he had been preparing.
For fans of the science fiction Star Wars franchise, May the fourth is also a time for a play on words from the Star Wars series in which the good guys — Luke Skywalker and members of the resistance — tell each other “May the Force be with you,” creating a play on the words “fourth” and “force.” The reason that May the fourth is a special day for Stars Wars fans is because the original Star Wars was released in May (in 1977) allowing the further play on the name of the month and the verb, may. Most Star Wars fans also know that original Star Wars was re-titled “A New Hope” as the various Star Wars prequals premiered.
If you happen to be a Macedonian Star Wars fan (or a friend of Macedonia who is a Star Wars fan), like me, then maybe next May 4 should be remembered as a time for new hope, while remembering and honoring Goce Delev.
Think about it: all of these various attacks and demands through the years — by Greece, by Bulgaria, by ethnic Albanians — Macedonian citizens! — serve (or should serve) to strengthen Macedonian identity. These attacks and demands should be a wakeup call to Macedonians everywhere that the Macedonian name and identity and all that goes with it — the language, history, culture, Church and much more — is worth fighting for, remembering that Goce Delcev gave his life for all of this.
Earlier this year I wrote two columns in a row about a recent trip I had made to Macedonia and how elements of those trips made me hopeful and gave me gratitude. In the first one, Gratitude and good things, I wrote about a little wine bistro, WineBerry, I found in Skopje and all of the new and wonderful Macedonian wines I was able to sample and enjoy. In the second column, Pride in your identity, I recalled a conversation with two of my Macedonian friends who, as I wrote, made the case that exactly because Macedonia and Macedonian identity are under attack, there is a greater hunger and desire among Macedonians to know more about their history and culture.
American author and former think-tank president Arthur Brooks writes about the issue of hope. He writes “There’s a word for believing you can make things better without distorting reality: not optimism, but hope….hope…is a conviction that one can act to make things better in some way.” Brooks argues that hope “involves personal agency,” meaning that you have in your own power the ability to do something. He then outlines three things one can do as you hope:
First, image a better future and then detail what makes it so — this involves changing your outlook. Second, envision yourself taking action. Third, act.
Being hopeful takes work; you have to focus on what is good and not on what is bad. And it helps if you are grateful and have gratitude, focusing on these things.
Again, think about it: what if Macedonians focused more and more on what is good in Macedonia, and expressed their gratitude for it? And here I mean, yes, Macedonia’s name, and the Macedonian identity, language, history, culture and all that goes into making Macedonia, Macedonian, but I also mean the beauty of Macedonian landscapes, the exceptional taste of unique Macedonian foods and drinks, the beautiful sounds of Macedonian music, literature, poetry, and much more. Go ahead, name some of those things in Macedonia that you are grateful for!
And then what if, in recognizing all of that good in Macedonia, this in turn created a culture of wanting cherish, conserve, and protect all of this goodness in Macedonia?
I submit to you, my reader, that this would in turn create a national culture of gratitude and would then contribute to Macedonians doing more and more — and thinking of new ways! — to not just defend Macedonia and Macedonian identity but extoll Macedonia’s good name and culture ever more throughout Macedonia and the region and the world.
So, let May the fourth be a day wherein Macedonians — and their friends — honor and remember Goce Delcev, a Macedonian hero. Let May the fourth be a reminder of what we can be hopeful about and then work towards that, in turn creating a culture of gratitude and working, in many different ways, to preserve and protect those things.