Why is the OLF being reestablished?

(Remarks of Prof. Dr. Justinas Žilinskas at the OLF’s press conference at Baltic News Service, April 18, 2017)

The OLF is coming back at a complicated time.

I do not want to call this period a crisis, since we are already hearing enough cries of panic. Yet, it is clearly a fact that Lithuania, along with the rest of the world, is vexed and out of balance. We are up on the swings, ready for a smooth fly or a dramatic tumble.

This might be the reason there is so much shouting and so little listening, and an inclination to oversimplify complex issues by rejecting serious scrutiny. Closing oneself off, building new walls and “strong hands” are being loudly and actively offered as a recipe against all evils in the world, sometimes real ones and sometimes delusive ones.

Humankind seems to be forgetting lessons about the implications of closedness, promoting superiority against each other or an unwillingness to understand and to listen. Lithuania has not been immune to this trend.

When the OLF ceased its activities in 2008, a feeling prevailed that history was approaching a happy ending, with all of us safe, acknowledged and on the right track to success. However, that proved to be an illusion. With all of the enormous achievements of ours during more than 25 years of independence, we have failed to create a society with a place for both the majority and minorities, marked by respect for each member, its fascinating diversity and yet harmony and solidarity in economic, cultural and human terms.

Our provincial areas are impoverished, unhappy and often run by local strongmen. Our cities are increasingly full of contrasts that are hard to swallow. Our citizens too often feel powerless and confused among ever-changing self-styled saviors. Many choose a quick way out of the country, or, saddest of all, out of life.

When we hear voices in favor of closedness or a one-size-fits-all artificial unity, it is clearly time to act in a calm and professional manner. To act by all means possible, such as by consolidating the non-governmental sector, performing a conceptual analysis of issues and offering alternatives to cheap and primitive solutions with our clear arguments demonstrating that open and harmonious societies are flourishing societies.

No one can name a country in Europe that reached prosperity under a single ruler who governed for 20 or 30 years, or was well taken care of by a “strong hand” with this hand staying friendly towards its neighbors and the world. The European tradition is rooted in democracy, discussion, the rule of law, and the empowerment of individuals. The Open Lithuania Foundation is resuming its operations as a consistent and active advocate, supporter and developer of this tradition.