Very often the reply given is “no,” accompanied by whimperings about expensive gas, usurious Scandinavian banks about to completely occupy Lithuania, about the rotten European Union that is encroaching on our sovereignty, our national identity, culture and even our notion of family.
But the point is that the question itself – if this is how we imagined our independence and our state – is silly. And, consequently, those who raise such questions and those who attempt to answer them are silly too.
One cannot imagine independence one way or another. It cannot be good or bad, democratic or otherwise, socially-oriented or liberal. It has no bearing on the price of milk, meat, heating, pensions, sick leave or minimal wage, it does not determine life expectancy or demographic situation. It simply is or, alternatively, is not.
I therefore think that those people who keep grumbling about how differently they imagined independence twenty years ago, have little idea of what independence actually is. And that is disquieting, since very rarely can one value something properly if one does not understand it. And if one cannot value that something, one usually has no need for it. I am convinced, however, that, as of today, those that do not understand are still in the minority.
The question itself – if this is how we imagined our independence and our state – is silly.
The same applies to the state. Those who claim that it's not the state they imagined or fought for twenty years ago, are mere hypocrites. Twenty years ago, as well as 94 years ago, there was no questions about what kind of state we want. Something entirely different was at stake: did we want to continue being a national minority within an alien state or were we mature enough to have our own? Answer to both questions was obvious. That is the reason why today Lithuania is both independent and a state. Without independence there would be no state.
And yet independence and statehood, even though one cannot go without the other, are not identical concepts. The difference between the two can be grasped through an analogy with a human being. As soon as one is born, one is a human being and nothing can change that. Unless one dies, from sickness or violence. That's independence. The person one grows into, the way one raises one's children – that's the question of statehood.
Are we already grownups today?
When I hear the President of the Republic claiming that it is reasonable to have someone sacked just because someone has doubtful reputation, I visualize our state as a toddler crawling under a table. Because what the head of a state with both feet firmly on the ground should care about is not reputation but the objective of having the crime – that cost citizens hundreds of millions – punished by the law, in this case, the Criminal Code.
On the other hand, the way that the on-line community reacted towards ACTA, the way they united and demonstrated surprising ingenuity, gives hope that not everyone is still crawling under that table. In several years the same community might be defending – with equal energy and enthusiasm – their interests in the areas of taxation, business, social security, education, etc.
Perhaps then their state will look the way they want it. Just like now it is the way we created it.