About a week and a half ago, one of Georgia’s largest newspapers, Kviris Palitra (“The Weekly Pallet”) published an open letter from the Georgian intelligentsia to the special representative of the European Union to Georgia, Thomas Hammarberg. The letter entitled “Respect Our Traditions!” was signed by such literary giants as Chabua Ameradzhibi and Rezo Amashukeli, the famous film directors Rezo Esadze and George Khaindrava, scholars Anzor Tomadze and George Gogolashvili, choreographers Anzor Erkomaishvili, and Pridon Sulaberidze, the legendary world chess champion Nona Gaprindashvili, psychologists Marina Kacharava and Lela Mudzhiri, businessmen Levan Vasadze and Zaza Nishnianidze, educators, political scientists, politicians, civil servants, sculptors, students, and mothers of large families… Among the signers were representatives of various nationalities and faiths: Georgians, Russians, Azerbaijanis and Armenians; Orthodox Christians, Moslems, and Gregorian Christians. The letter became one of the most popular topics of discussion in the Georgian media and caused all manner of indignation among the propagandists of anti-traditional values in Georgia. We present here a full translation of this letter to our readers.
Respect our Traditions!
We have read your report on human rights in Georgia and want to answer to the part in which you speak of our national and religious minorities, and, for some reason in the same context, you speak of the rights to propaganda of sexual depravity.
First of all: our society has such great respect and tolerance towards representatives of our national and religious minorities, and so entirely considers them equal, that it would never even occur to us to equate them with sodomites and promoters of other forms of sexual depravity. This innovative ideological trick is totally unacceptable to us, regardless of how hard they try to push it in the West. We are sure that equating practices of sexual perversion with the representatives of religious and ethnic minorities of any country, including, in recent years, the United States and Western Europe, is an artificial, deliberately imposed ideology that has nothing to do with the age-old rules of life that are common to human society.
You write, “The celebration of the International Day Against Homophobia is the realization of rights, not propaganda.” We can in no way agree. Any public event is promoting what it says, and there is no point in denying it. We would like to remind you that on May 17, 2012, a similar event was attempted in front of school building No. 51 in Tbilisi, where the supposed “realization of rights” turned into the propaganda of depravity among children. You defend rights, but such an event is precisely the violation of the rights of those children and parents, who find this shameless exhibitionism and depravity unacceptable.
In Georgia, those who follow after depravity and know that they are sinning are not persecuted, for according to our traditions every person should make his own decisions about his conscience and morality. But this does not at all mean that the many centuries of our society’s traditions allow for the right to public promotion of depravity and disgraceful behavior.
Your employer sent you to us, to work in a traditional society. The norms of diplomacy require you to respect the traditions of the country where you are located. In one of the most tragic moments of our history, 100,000 inhabitants of Tbilisi voluntarily bowed their heads on executioners’ block, sacrificing their lives in defense of Christian morality. In Tbilisi these people are venerated as saints. You seem to think that you have the right to teach the inhabitants of this city and this country, to point out to them what is right and what is wrong, and, as it turns out, to lecture us about our duty to give you the right to freely express yourself. Let us draw your attention to the fact that, having given you the right to freely express your opinions in our country, we nevertheless reserve the right to respond to them.
When we speak of the unacceptability of the propaganda of depravity, we are not only talking about the Christian faith. All traditional religions and societies consider that sodomy, along with all other similar forms of depravity, is a great sin and that it is unacceptable to publicly promote it. Could it really be that simply because our nation would never think of burning your flags in front of your embassies or other such madness that you consider it proper to call our society to change its age-old structures of life at the roots?
Your action on May 17 of this year was a provocation, aimed at destabilizing and stirring up confrontation in our society. We remind you that on May 26, 2011, at the same place—on Rustaveli Avenue—peaceful demonstrators were killed by the Saakashvili regime. The bodies of the murdered civilians were hidden on the roof of a shopping mall near by to keep them out of sight while a military parade took place on the site. Representatives of the European Union were present at this military parade a few hundred meters from the dead, but they have not raised any protest against the violation of the right to life and the brutal mutilation of hundreds of people. Instead, this year, they have struck with lightning speed in defense of those propagandists of sexual depravity, amongst whom—thank God—there wasn’t a single person harmed as a result of the discord. What conclusions should our society draw from this with regard to the West’s priorities in the area of human rights in our country?
You say, “The Georgian Orthodox Church should clearly proclaim that it is against any such violence toward representatives of the LGBT.” We are surprised that you are forcing us to remind you: the Primate of the Georgian Church, His Holiness Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilya II announced that very day that the Church distances itself from violence. Such an unfair and false representation of the role of our Church, built upon an intentional television collage of rare shots showing the excesses of a pair of clergymen, just amazes us. In general, any attempt by the West to put pressure on our Church is absolutely unacceptable to us, the laity. Marxism, which also came to us from the West, has already tried to do this in the last century. The answer our society has given it should be an obvious example for all who try to do this in the future. Marxism also forced us to celebrate some international “holidays”—which we no longer celebrate.
The propaganda of depravity is not acceptable to us also because of demographics. The U. N. has entered the Georgian language and Georgian ethnos into the list of dying languages and nationalities. According to its official projection, if we do not change something, by 2050, our country’s population will shrink to 1,170,000—that is, by 28 percent. According to these statistics this shrinkage will occur mainly at the expense of the Georgian ethnos, which means the Georgian population will be cut in half. According to statistics from 1910, every third person in the Caucasus was Georgian resident, but statistics for 2010 show that only one in nineteen is a resident of Georgia. Thus, it is a question of the life or death of our nation. Under such conditions, the propaganda of anti-family immorality, to which the ideology that you support keeps adding more and more abbreviations, is especially destructive for us. Which one of these abbreviations do you want us to support, Batono Thomas? What will you say if in future years the international coalition of depravity you are backing adds new abbreviations to its four letters? Aren’t you also having a political struggle for the legalization of adults having sex with children, all under the flag of human rights? Aren’t there those in European countries who are trying to legalize incest? Aren’t there photo and video materials being disseminated with impunity in the West, that show sexual relations between people and animals? Is there any country that began with the propaganda of sexual depravity where demands for homosexual “marriage” and the adoption of children by these “families” did not follow? Doesn’t a strategic vector serve in the West to weaken the traditional family—the so-called juvenile justice system, which gives lawyers the right to intrude upon families and take children away from their parents, all under the flag of child protection? Don’t we see the attempt, with help from the West, to begin this dangerous process in the Georgian parliament, with the support of our neophyte or submissive parliamentarians and journalists? What will you order us to celebrate in the future, Batono Thomas, while millions of children die under the knife in their mothers’ wombs? Our society is built not upon man’s rights, but upon his responsibility. That is how it was in Western Europe—and what a pity that everything is changing for you there.
Georgia is historically one of the most tolerant and humane societies in the world, and our society is glad and proud of this. In our country, churches, synagogues, and mosques have stood for centuries within a hundred meter radius of each other. Those in Georgia have known how to respect other religions, not to mention respect for guests. The example of the Jews alone is enough—this ancient nation has suffered persecution of one form or another even in recent history, including in European countries. The only country where this did not happen is Georgia. People of different nationalities and faiths have always lived together amiably in our land. We want to assure you that these problems we have mentioned are still absent from our country, and that they are artificially being promoted by forces who are troubled by the high authority of our Church, and who, for political reasons, want to destabilize our country. We are very sorry that non-governmental organizations that have been involved in such activities are financed from the West.
“Faith is a matter of personal conscience and hope, and everyone must be free and untouchable in this regard.” These are the words of our great writer and public figure Ilia Chavchavadze. Georgians have always lived by these words. In Western Europe, the processes of the so-called Enlightenment and Reformation cost the lives of millions of people. In our country, faith and knowledge have always coexisted without bloodshed, until Marxism, which came to us from the West, spilt here rivers of blood in the name of “freedom”. Freedom must not be confused with the propaganda of depravity and forcing people into depravity, with the offending of traditional society, with an ideology that under the false flag of “free choice” leads to the misery of millions of children because their parents are divorced, with an ideology that keeps a person, supposedly protected by governmental institutions, in a state of loneliness and fear for the future. This very ideology causes loss of family and hopelessness; it causes them to hope in wealth and temporary legislation, which, despite material wealth, is leading people in the West into existential depression.
What has been happening in the West over the last thirty or so years is unfortunately the massive collapse of the family, spirituality, and norms of decency. The history of our nation and government stretches much further back than that brief span of time. Therefore, we cannot accept the teaching you have contrived in the ivory tower of that temporary experiment. Look at the life of your own generation, Batono Thomas. Which part of it do you want us to believe in? The part in which your parents raised you according to traditional European values or the later part, when, already adult, you learned the new ideology? And if your generation has been so unstable in its moral views, how do we know that in the future you will not come up with some further innovations in moral standards?
We feel sorry for you and your problems. We consider our culture to be a part of the whole Eurasian culture, but we think that our beloved and largely organic Europe was not founded on the debaucheries of the hippie generation, but rather on Christian values, which we upheld with bitterness and joy during the era of Soviet socialism, and which we will continue to uphold under the conditions of Western capitalism and globalization. These values do not demand that we ask them of others, but they do forbid us from the public propaganda of corruption and the rooting in us of abnormal forms of human freedom. But a ban on restrictions is the greatest and most contradictory lie, and no one can impose it on us. Just as the ten Mosaic commandments are considered the backbone of mankind, so does any constitution and legislation mean a system of restrictions and rights, which demand first of all responsibility and decency from people. It is the endless turmoil connected with the remaking of given systems that causes Western liberalism to move ever closer to a logical dead end, for under the flag of respect for another’s opinion it invades other countries and wreaks violence upon many who disagree with it, places a taboo on freedom of thought and speech by means of a one-sided demagogy of political correctness, and persecutes those who defend the traditions of their own country. If you truly respect the diversity of peoples and traditions of the world, then you will accept the difference of our country’s traditions and not try to revise them.
So, allow us to decide for ourselves what to accept from Europe (which we respect and which still has much that is worthy of emulation), and what we will not accept. And if your friendship with us is more than just empty talk, then you should also believe in that fundamental trait of friendship called equality of friends. This also means that you should want to learn something from us, or remember something thanks to us. And perhaps that “something” is those very human and family traditions that we so carefully preserve in Georgia and which have so declined in today’s Western Europe. Our nation will gladly work together with the European Union on matters of scientific and technological progress and the building of democracy. But our own culture, which even before the birth of Christ gave mankind wine and wheat, Amirani-Prometheus, and the medicine of Medea. The theft of the golden fleece of knowledge, considered a great feat amongst the forbears of Europe—the Greeks—does not accept any moralizing from a Western Europe that is itself in moral crisis.
Batono Thomas, the list of signatures to this letter, presented in alphabetical order, could have been much longer; but to save time we considered it sufficient to give you a clear picture of the spectrum of people who support it. We apologize to all those worthy members of our society who would have gladly signed this letter.
Rezo Amashukeli, poet
Chabua Ameredzhibi, writer
George Benidze, MD
Nona Gaprindashvili, world champion chess player
George Gvasalia, theologian
George Gogolashvili, professor
Nukri Dzhokhadze, civil servant
George Donadze, regent
Nino Durglishvili, mother
Anzor Erkomashvili, folklorist
Rezo Esadze, film director
Levan Vasadze, businessman
Anzor Tomadze, professor
Eviad Iremadze, lawyer
Marina Kacharava, psychologist
Vugar Memedov, civil servant
Nino Mamulashvili, mother
Soso Mandzhavidze, politician
Tamar Meinariani, teacher
Yuri Mechitov, photographer
Eldar Mustafaev, civil servant
Lela Mudzhiri, mother
Zaza Nishnianidze, businessman
Marina Pazukhina, mother
Levan Salukvadze, sculptor
Pridon Sulaberidze, choreographer
Luarsab Togonidze, researcher
Eviad Tomaridze, political scientist
Lasha Erushadze, student
Ketivan Urushadze, art historian
Nana Gongadze, mother
Nino Kurashvili, mother
Salome Chkheidze, teacher
Shota Chocheli, manager
Goga Khaindrava, film director
Vazha Choranauli, poet