Culture guides us to our heart and our identity

What defines our Slovenian identity in a way to make it easily recognisable in the European family of nations? First and foremost, it is our own and independent state. In past, we Slovenians were always under the control of others. We were a part of the Illyrian Provinces, the Austro-Hungarian monarchy and communist Yugoslavia. Even if we looked further into the past, the reality of our past existence would not be changed. As such, it is the Slovenian language, which above all, gives us our own identity amongst the 28 nations of the European Union. If it were not for Trubar, I doubt we would even have that. Regardless of the fact that our language includes words of both German and French origins, the Slovenian language is our most precious treasure. (A potato can be a potato also in French).

Part of our identity and pride are also Slovenians that managed to make a name for themselves on the international state, such as for example the physicist Jožef Štefan, Nobel prize winner prof. Friderik Pregl, poet France Prešeren, bishop and poet Anton Martin Slomšek, burn treatment specialist Zora Janžekovic, the music band Avseniki and many, many more.

However we must not forget that Slovenian identity is only recognised by other nations if we present and maintain it in an international environment. Are we Slovenians sufficiently proud of our identity? Even in Brussels? Unfortunately, in my experience, this is not the case. We continue to be mistaken for the Slovak Republic and we are still considered as part of the ex-communist bloc. It is rare to hear someone recognise Slovenia and its historically important achievements.

A museum recently opened in Brussels, which shows how people lived the city between 1860 and 1914. Amongst the exhibits are paintings by Belgian artists of that time, which were coloured by the crisis at that time and the liberation of Belgium as a country. What shocked me the most was the black and white comparison between the countryside and the urban landscape. These fifty years of painting the countryside in a negative light can easily be compared to the downright dismissive attitude of communist authorities towards it after the Second World War in Yugoslavia. The consequences of such behaviour continue to be felt today, when young people rarely return back home after their studies ? to till and plough the field.

It is clear that in time people assimilate the prevalent point of view, a problematic development if something is always presented as bad or wrong. We must remember that culture inspires us, gives us energy, but that energy can be used for a positive or negative purpose. It is up to each nation to create its own identity.

On the 8th February, when we celebrate Slovenian culture, let us wish that our identity no longer begins and ends with the Second World War, but also includes Trubar?s Slovenian words and the time we became an independent nation. I wish that we would have the wisdom to build it on the eternal wish of the Slovenian nation to be the master of its own fate and by recognising the importance of our own language.

Dear citizens, I wish you all the best on such an important day!

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