Editorial: Estonians choose freedom

Urho Meister
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Photo: Tairo Lutter

Yesterday, Republic of Estonia celebrated its 98th anniversary. Quite an age, while we will have to admit that though old in a sense we're still rather young as of the 98 years we have managed to be free for less than a half. As penned by a Russian philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev:  slavery is easy and freedom is hard, and for that very reason nations often opt for the former. Even so, in the 20th century Estonians did twice clearly declare that they desire to be free and it is vital in the future to stay true to that choice. 

For any nation, a state of their own is the total peak only achieved by a few. But only a state of our own will allow the national interests to be maximally realised. The Estonian space of values, as mentioned in his address yesterday by President Toomas Hendrik Ilves. Its aim is to defend and to develop the Estonian state, people, language and culture. These latter are the red lines for our statehood i.e. the red lines said the President. With these, all will have to reckon who in times to come desire to tie their lives with Estonia.

Despite the statehood, we still feel our freedom is endangered by what is happening in the world. In our mind’s eye, Estonia often is like a little boat on a stormy sea. Probably, the sense of danger is due to the earlier historic experience which was the very loss of independence in 1940 i.e. the fact that at one moment the freedom may no longer be.

The worries about lasting freedom were also mentioned by the President Ilves. He said this is what differentiates us from other nations. But as he said, it is also out historic experience to come out of the most difficult situations, finding the ways out using smartness. Therefore, we ought not to yield to the fears of the unknown. Fear is the mankind’s oldest and strongest emotion, and the strongest kind of it is the very fear of the unknown. But fears paralyse our minds and actions, hinder us from taking decisions which lead us onwards. Therefore, we need to stay bold and make courageous choices.

The choice of freedom reveals the maturity of Estonian people as hardly would an individual in his sound mind wish to live out his days in a large community apartment or hostel which the empires we got out of in 1918 and 1991 were in a sense. Better it is to live in a little house of one’s own. Nothing bad in our home being small. More important to be big in spirit than ion numbers. And during these past centuries, this the Estonians have doubtless managed to be, achieving an uniquely high cultural development in Europe and the world considering the smallness of out ranks.