- May 23, 2012
Opinion: without a complex.
When I travel through the space of my life across Vilnius streets, I can’t get rid of illusion that I live in two cities.
‘We live in the capital in two lands,’ Belarusian N.R.M. band sings about still Soviet-Russian Minsk, which sometimes, somewhere is still Belarusian ‘Miensk.’ We can say the same about Vilnius.
One of the cities is Vilnius. I live here with my family, friends, good mates. My roots are in Vilnius. This is the city of Mickiewicz, Lelewel, Narbutt, Pilsudski, the nobility, poets, conspirators, insurgents and troublemakers. Today a city of my favourite school, favourite pub and the swords — the place where I can everywhere hear my language, which I inherited from the nobility and these poets and insurgents. But when I walk alone and pass the men in the street when I wander about shop shelves and when I meet ordinary and anonymous to me co-citizens and people in uniforms then I think I am in another city.
It’s Vilnius — the city without the history, the city younger than my grandpa. This is the city in which I feel sometimes like an immigrant…, but the truth is that the Vilnius is an immigrant in my Wilno!
And you! Which of these two cities do you live in? Which city are you a citizen of? What’s your answer? I know many people who speak Polish at their homes and forget to speak it on the streets and some people forget Polish even at home. Is it because of fear or lack of assertiveness? You would tell me that you are a citizen of both cities?! That’s not true! Vilnius and its citizens don’t want to know Vilnius and they negate its existence. They destroy the historical traces and that’s why we can’t be one of them and we should stay the spiritual citizens of free and great Vilnius. It’s they who imposed this division on us.
Our small Republic and many our cohabitants treat us as a second category citizens only because we are Poles. Their attitude is clear to me. However, it’s also true that many of us agreed with this category because of passive and shy attitude. Where do these complexes towards them come from? Towards an authority which lasts shorter than I live. Towards the nation which tries to ensure monopoly of its language through law paragraphs, inspections and court judgments?
We come from the nation that has existed and constituted a state since thousand years! The nation that won in Grunwald and brought here, among the wild tribes, the European civilization 600 years ago. The nation of Copernicus who ‘stopped the sun and moved the earth.’ The first nation which self-governed in its Republic instead of bowing down to tyrants. The nation which sons and daughters built rails in Southern America and mines in Australia, discovered the elements in Paris. The nation that saved the Europe from Turks in 1683 and from Bolsheviks in 1920 (when the authorities of the Lithuanian Republic allied with Lenin). We come from the nation that posed a challenge to Hitler and Stalin first and rebelled against the communism. These were Poles, they were not created by the history. Poles themselves created the history. Do you want to be such a Pole? Abandon your complexes that eat your brain like parasites! Don’t apologize for who you are and for the fact that you live. Say what you want and in whichever language you like. We won’t beg her for tolerance. Let them ask us for acceptance because we are at our home there. So be a Wilno citizen, not a Vilnius citizen!.
Tłumaczenie Adam Gałązka w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Adam Gałązka within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.