The Year 2042
Imagine for a moment, and if you dare, that the year is now 2042. Imagine also, that, no matter what your age is at this moment, you are still alive and healthy in 2042, 20 years hence. Furthermore, imagine, happily for all of us, that, no, World War 3 did not yet (yet) occur. And imagine, for the time being, that the Second Coming of Christ has not yet occurred (I’ll leave it up to you to decide if you prefer that scenario or not).
Now, having gotten through all of this imagining, imagine one more thing: Macedonia is now a member of the European Union, and the EU is, more or less, that same sclerotic, sovereignty-sucking machine that it is today, albeit with a few more members.
Twenty years from now, most of those involved in changing Macedonia’s name and identity, from the outside world, at least, are gone: they have retired, died, or moved on to other countries to carry on their mischief. The same goes internally, for Macedonians who have championed and rammed through these changes (yes, again, retired, dead, moved on).
Let me posit the following: why cannot Macedonia reclaim now that it is 2042, that which belongs to Macedonia, chiefly, Macedonia’s good name?
Think about it: because of the sped-up nature of the world in which we currently live, the on-demand, 24/7 nature of the news cycle, the consumerist nature of “I must have this thing now, here,” and more — because of this, the human psyche has grown accustomed to very short attention spans, moving from thought to thought and activity to activity in the proverbial blink of an eye without, often enough, stopping to do those things so necessary to a fulfilled, and meaningful life: to stop, and to think, and to reflect. And then to act once proper reflection has been done.
Once Macedonia is in the EU club it should, under the rules of the club, be able to reclaim its good name. The same goes with NATO. And the time to be working on that strategy is now. Part of that means that, right now, Macedonians and their friends need to be reminding those international officials who were involved in changing Macedonia’s name in the first place (US State Department officials, EU officials and EU member state officials, NATO officials, etc.) that what was done was wrong — and crucially — very much against the consent of the governed, against the wishes of the Macedonian people. Furthermore, they must be reminded that anti-democratic means were used to accomplish this (the next time these officials start to lecture you about “democracy” you can politely, but firmly, remind them of this).
British author and intellectual Douglas Murray, in analyzing The Waste Land, a poem by American-born but British citizen poet T. S. Eliot (1888–1965), notes that the poem, in his view, is about the “regaining of time,” the “possibility of cultural revival,” the fact that “things that are dead can be reborn,” and that “things that seem to be lost can be found.” In one of his more profound essays, Eliot writes “If we take the widest and wisest view of a Cause, there is no such thing as a Lost Cause because there is no such thing as a Gained Cause. We fight for lost causes because we know that our defeat and dismay may be the preface to our successors’ victory, though that victory itself will be temporary; we fight rather to keep something alive than in the expectation that anything will triumph.”
I think the best way to sum all of this up is thusly: Do not despair. Instead, keep up the good fight, be ready at all times, be proud of who you are but have a little humility, stand your ground and remember: the cause of Macedonia is right, and it is not lost, nor is it a gained cause. It simply is. And because Macedonia simply is (the present tense of the verb), she is always worth fighting for.
I know many Macedonians, a benefit to me of having spent the past 26 years in and with Macedonians. Some of my Macedonian friends are optimists; some are pessimists. Being around the optimists encourages me and helps me to write and speak and encourage others. Being around the pessimists…does not do what you think it does! No, being around the pessimists allows me — actually that encourages me — to write and speak and encourage others.
I do not profess to know the future and I do not know where we, mankind, or Macedonia, will be in 2042. What I do know is the following: only a few things in life are certain: we will all die, there is an eternity, and where you spend eternity depends on your relationship with God. I’ll spare you any sermonizing here, but beyond these three certainties, while we are here on this earth for whatever time we are granted, it’s important to the make the most of our lives. Naturally this starts with those around us, our families, and then extends outwards, doing what we can do, and what we should do, loving on others.
Beyond that, the tribes that we belong to — in the case of Macedonia, the Macedonian nation-state — we need to do what we can and must to protect the country because we cherish the country. Even if it takes another 20 years to get back what rightly belongs to Macedonia. If you have not yet started, begin now. Lay the groundwork. Strategize. Work towards that goal. To quote Eliot once more, “fight to keep something alive.”