In praise of your own country
I had two conversations with two very close friends within 24 hours last week. One from a friend in the north of Europe, Estonia, another from a friend in the south of Europe, Macedonia. Without going into too much detail about either conversation, the gist of both was this: “We love our countries and believe they have a great deal to offer us and our families. While we also love the United States of America, we are content to visit it, but, unlike some of our countrymen, we are staying in our own countries, working to improve them, enjoying all they have to offer, and raising our families.” They both agreed, in so many words, that despite all of the faults and challenges their two countries have, their countries are essentially good countries.
As an individual who believes that everything happens for a reason, my attention to my own inner reflective self ticked up a notch after the second conversation. This was something to pay attention to. So indulge me for a moment as I divert to the United States, before coming back to Europe.
If you are even a casual consumer of the news, you will have noted that the violence convulsing the United States right now is on a level not seen in over 50 years (yes, it has happened before, aside from our own Civil War). But something tells me that this time there are ominous signs that make a huge difference in what is happening.
So first, some reflections on the current revolution in America before steering back to my conversations with my European friends.
The violence will continue in the United States no matter who wins in November. Yes, there is violence from some lunatic circles on the right these days, but the vast majority comes from the Left — Antifa, Black Lives Matter (a Marxist organization) and others. In their rush to burn everything to the ground, these revolutionaries will not stop no matter who is in power. The violence will get worse, and many — especially low-income and minority Americans — will continue to suffer because most of the violence is in areas where they live and work.
This is what happens in revolutions because revolutions give birth to war. Think of the French Revolution of 1789, the Russian Revolution of 1917, and the Chinese Revolution of 1949. “A-ha!” you might chortle. “What about the American Revolution of 1776?” you might assert, somewhat smugly.
This is a fair and valid point and something I have been pondering for a long time. But the American Revolution was not so much a “revolution” as it was a “restoration.” Without getting into too much history, we Americans were free Englishmen and free Englishwomen who loved our customs, habits, and culture, which had been brought over, largely from England, and adapted to an American setting. What we fought for was to remain free. As Winston Churchill remarked, the three greatest English title deeds to liberty were Magna Carta (1215), the English Bill of Rights (1689) and the US Declaration of Independence (1776). In fighting, we did not burn everything to the ground. Instead, we continued building on what we had.
Macedonians know something about “revolutionaries,” especially modern ones. What the recent so-called “colorful revolutionaries” sought was and remains to tear down Macedonia’s foundations. They certainly tore down Macedonia’s foundations — the country is not even the Republic of Macedonia anymore but something else. And in its place, not only have they renamed the country and given it a new identity, but they have also given license to greater corruption, crime, nepotism, general lawlessness and a degradation of the rule of law among Macedonia’s current government.
Zoran Zaev and the leadership of his party fully knew and understood back in the 2016 parliamentary elections, that if they got into power, they would change Macedonia’s name and identity no matter what it took do to so. Nikola Gruevski, for all of his faults, wanted to see Macedonia in NATO and the EU, but on Macedonia’s terms, with dignity, while retaining its name and identity. Would Macedonia have achieved that, over time, perhaps a long time, if that was the course that the Republic of Macedonia had taken? We will never know.
Revolutionaries are always in a hurry to tear down, to burn, to destroy, and then to move on. So, to get rid of Gruevski and enter the promised land of NATO and the EU (still waiting on that second one) they decided to tear down, burn, and destroy.
Which brings me back to my initial thoughts, strange as that may seem. Despite all of the ills, humiliations and indignities inflicted on Macedonia over the past three years, my Macedonian friend — and many like him — want to stay and, instead of tearing down, burning, and destroying, build, create, reform where necessary, and love on Macedonia because it is good. The same is true of my Estonian friend.
In Macedonia, the would-be so-called “colorful revolutionaries” have not had the last say in this battle. I am convinced that there are more people who love Macedonia and want to see it succeed as Macedonia than there are who don’t care for Macedonia, its past, its present, and its future.
And as the Apostle Paul wrote in the New Testament in his letter to the Christians in Rome, “Hold on to what is good.”
And Macedonia is good.