Programme: 'Patriotism of tomorrow'
Kazimierz Michal Ujazdowski
Today we rarely speak about virtues. This word seems old-fashioned to contemporary man and it makes him ashamed a little. However, one must say openly that patriotism is a virtue, which means love of your own Homeland. Undoubtedly, this virtue characterised former generations of Poles to a great extent. We know about that since our ancestors did not hesitate to give their lives for Poland many a time. Today our generation remembers, having wakened up after the lethargy of the 1990s, that we should be patriots, too. We also wish our children were patriots. However, we know that it is not obvious whether our children will love Poland to the same extent as our grandparents did. It depends on our mutual efforts and on the atmosphere in which our children will be growing up. In fact, it is not easy to educate next generations; it is especially true of the present times. One reason is that the present generation is matured in a fast-changing world and the civilisational environment does not favour cultivating the so-called traditional, and actually true, values. The civilisational atmosphere of the contemporary times does not also favour cherishing love of one's own country and sacrifice for the Homeland. The violent technological progress, new information civilisation, spectacular development in biotechnology and genetics as well as consumerism and relativism, which exist in many environments, question the meaning of all natural communities. Taking for example the words of Samuel Huntington who thinks that the global crisis of family is being deepened and the awareness of national relationships are being weakened. In the most advanced societies more and more people accept patterns of misunderstood individualism and egoism. These unfavourable phenomena do not omit our country.
We know for certain that man needs organically all these communities in order to be a complete human being. He also needs to be rooted in culture and national tradition, he needs the Homeland, with which he will be connected and for which he will be responsible. Only in this way he will be a free and matured man. Because of that the sphere of patriotic education cannot be indifferent both from the perspective of personal growth and communal growth of the young generations of Poles.
On the one hand, the above-mentioned civilisational challenges and on the other hand, as society our years of neglect in the sphere of patriotic education cause that active policy of the state in this respect is necessary. Its aim is not to take personal responsibility from each of us, not to do the work for social institutions, families and schools, but to create special conditions so that we can fulfil this responsibility. A well-thought-out and energetic activity of the state, concerning this issue, is in my opinion the proper implementation of the principle of aid, which is written directly in our constitution, and taken from the Catholic social teaching.
This policy is to be implemented by numerous organs of the state, both in the government and the local authorities. However, the act concerning departments of governmental administration imposes the task to maintain and spread national and state traditions on me as the minister of culture and national inheritance. The former coalition completely omitted this sphere in the operational programmes, by which the minister of culture was to realise active state patronage. That's why I decided to supplement this by creating a new programme entitled 'Patriotism of tomorrow', which is to support modern initiatives, the aims of which are to consolidate patriotic attitudes of our youth. The public institutions of culture, organisations of local governments, parishes and media take initiatives. Within the framework of the above mentioned programme there should be research projects in the field of history of the Polish culture and our historical awareness as well as educational projects, social actions and cultural events; there should be programmes in the media, which will help to promote patriotic attitudes.
One of the means of patriotic education should be the Museum of Poland's History, which is just being created and which is to help spread the knowledge of Poland's history and pride resulting from the achievements of the past generations of our fellow countrymen. The experience of the Warsaw Uprising Museum makes us believe how much good such institutions can do. There are other elements, which are not less worthy than those mentioned ones and which should be commemorated in a similar way. Naturally, patriotism that we want to pass on to our children cannot depend on some blind feeling of national self-admiration. It must be an attitude of maturity and it means to have courage to face difficult problems of our history and present times. This patriotism must actually help us cope with challenges, which the 21st century confronts us with.
I was 23 when in 1987 John Paul II, whom we can boldly call the master of contemporary Polish patriotism, directed the following words to the youth, gathered at Westerplatte: 'Poland's future depends on you and must depend on you. This is our Fatherland, this is our 'be' and our 'have'... Every generation of Poles, ... throughout all millennia, face the same problem ... work on yourself'. We ourselves should remember this programme of Polish patriotism and we should pass it on to our children.
The author is the minister of culture and national heritage.