The Home You Need To Love

Belarus is a small republic, and many people around the world don't even know that it exists. And though it may sound surprising for the Belarusians, but people often do not even identify us as a separate state. Moreover, even some Belarusians do not have a clear sense of national identity. What does it mean to be a Belarusian? Let's look at some historic reasons that shaped Belarusian nation.

Recently, one European asked me and my colleagues a question, «How could you describe your country in one word?», and the answer that came to mind to several people simultaneously was «Motherland». And though it sounds so natural to us, the European was surprised by this word because they call their home city or country Home, and officially - Fatherland. And this actually gives an invaluable insight into the differences between Belarusian and European people. This relates to a fundamental, historical substitution. During Soviet period, several generations of our people were born and brought up with the idea that they are nurtured and provided with the ghostly happy future by the Motherland. These were generations of fatherless children, forced to give up their roots for political reasons. Doomed to be ashamed of their fathers, recognized as enemies, or, at best, be proud of their ancestors, who were killed in the war battles for their country. Generations grown by widows, pulled out genealogical trees, rewriting pedigrees and eternally ashamed of what a normal person needs to be proud of.

"Home" relates to something cozy, warm, smelling of childhood and good memories. It is a place where everything is familiar and very personal. There live those whom you love and whom you trust. And if you do not love, it's still without aggression. There all animals are domestic, and all people are relatives or neighbors. That's your "own" way of life and rules, history and traditions, jokes and tales. There you can be yourself, and you are loved for who you are. And if you leave your home, you remember it with tenderness and return with joy. It happens with your Home. And Motherland, especially in the variant of the Soviet and post-Soviet connotations, appears with some eternally grieving stony face. It constantly calls you and craves for your help, since you owe her a debt... People fight for it, as it needs to be constantly defended and sacrificed for. Feel the difference?

These invisible meanings and subtexts influence our attitude to our country and ourselves, and thus, our past and the future. We love the Motherland because we are taught to, but we love our Home instinctively and naturally. If a Belarusian is asked what he is proud of in his country, he will probably name some famous people, places and brands. But is he really proud of it, like a Dutchman - of cheese and tulips, an Italian - of pasta and pizza, and a Frenchman - of Versailles and Chanel?

For so long we have been forced to be proud of what destroyed us, that we do not know how to love sincerely and with all our heart. But, as Boris Grebenschikov sang: "...to stand up, we need to hold on to the roots." We need to learn and understand our history and heritage, and learn to treat the place we live in like a real Home. Loving your Home, being proud of it, taking responsibility for what is happening in our Home, building it so that our children can be proud of the Land of their Fathers.

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