In his celebratory speech delivered as part of an ecumenical service held to celebrate the Day of Hungarian culture, the Prime Minister highlighted that it is worthy and just that the day of the birth of the National Anthem should be the Day of Hungarian Culture.
Mr Orbán said not even from the perspective of a thousand years is there another piece of Hungarian culture that would be capable of elevating our hearts as our National Anthem does.
If we were to engage in the impossible endeavour of condensing all things Hungarian – or to be more precise, all things that make a Hungarian Hungarian – into a single work, we should surely choose the National Anthem, the Prime Minister added.
Mr Orbán recalled that he had last sung the Hungarian National Anthem at the Tuesday funeral in Losonc (Lučenec, Slovakia) of politician Miklós Duray from Upper Hungary. They sang it not as a means of saying farewell, but in order to lift him into eternity, to elevate him to the pantheon of Hungarians, the Prime Minister pointed out.
He said it was evident to every one of the gathered hundreds of Hungarians that only our national prayer could be the lever required for the purpose. As is customary when paying tribute to our compatriots standing atop the Olympic podium or our great ancestors remembered on our national holidays.
He highlighted that while as regards its genre the National Anthem is a prayer, a supplication and a jeremiad, and would as such require the deep and serious posture of repentant humility, we do not sing the National Anthem kneeling down, and most certainly not with our heads bowed, but standing straight, steadfastly, almost boisterously, and always with our heads held high.
While reading Kölcsey’s poem or singing Erkel’s tune, he added, we feel that the message intended for us rises to us “somewhere from the bottomless well of the past,” as if “it were the message of hundreds of generations, of the Hungarians that lived before us, of our very first ancestors lost in the fog of prehistoric times – embracing all Hungarians that have lived to date – which is intended not only for us, but also targets the heart of every Hungarian to be born henceforth.”
Reading the National Anthem, that mysterious, ungraspable and undefinable something “appears from the swelling of history” that we can call the community of Hungarians, or to be more precise, the Hungarian fate and the Hungarian genius; meaning, a form and quality of conception, creation and existence which only we Hungarians are capable of, he said.
The Prime Minister pointed out that the National Anthem reminds us that we Hungarians – as all Christian peoples who understand what sinning and forgiving mean – have good reason to repent. “We Hungarians are not without sin either. Our flaws and shortcomings are numerous. The only question is what we should do about this realisation and admission,” he added.
He said “Should we perhaps take the knee in the middle of the football pitch? Or should we topple the statues of our great ancestors? Should we negate and cancel our culture of a thousand years? Or should we allow self-appointed, liberal censors without a country they call their own to filter and rewrite Hungarian history?”
He pointed out that Kölcsey says otherwise, committing to paper the most important sentence of Hungarian historical literature: “This nation has suffered for all sins Of the past and of the future.”
Mr Orbán said reading it with the eyes of a Christian, “this is not a bonus, not a free pass or an excuse for the commission of further sins.” “In the Christian spirit, this sentence means that while the number and extent of our sins may be high, the Lord has not wiped us off the face of the Earth. Even if He punished us, He allows us to continue our history. The only reason for this may be that our virtues and merits are also numerous, meaning that we have earned a future,” he stated.
If it is true that our survival is not sheer good luck, but the result of political, military and spiritual struggles, battles and freedom fights fought with the help of the Lord, then it stands to reason that we should also find an answer to the question: What did we do to deserve the chance of still living here in the middle of the Carpathian Basin, still reaping the crops of this land? “This is true even if Hungary – adjusting to the rhythm of the contracting and expanding heart – is currently in a state of contraction,” he added.
It is the right and perhaps also the duty of every generation to find its own answer, and this answer can hardly be detached from the risks that are currently threatening the lives of the Hungarian people.
The Prime Minister said thirty years ago, he believed that “our never-abating desire for national independence was our merit.” “We redeemed our right to survival at the expense of the lives of our best that fell under the bloody flags of freedom carried around in these parts, and received survival as our reward.”
He said now, thirty years later, he still believes so, but also believes that this in itself would not have been enough. “We also needed to fight our freedom fights not merely for political independence, for economic and power sovereignty.”
He stressed that “we have always fought our fights – sometimes with peaceful, at other times with military means – in order to be able to remain who we are, to live as we want to,” and not “as we are told by others.”
He recalled that the Ottomans told us who was a true believer and who was an infidel; the Habsburgs told us who was a good Christian; the Germans told us whom we could live together with and whom not, while the Soviets wanted to force us to become proletarians of the world – instead of Hungarians – who can then unite. “At the same time, the Brussels bureaucrats now want to hammer us into liberal cosmopolitans instead of being Hungarians, a concept they dismiss as dated,” he pointed out.
He said if there is a virtue that deserves the reward of survival, that is nothing other than persistent attachment to who we are.
The Prime Minister highlighted that “this is why also today we can’t be entrapped by the voices of the sirens” that seek to lure us into “standing on the right side of history.”
He said “this is why we’re not being dragged into the whirl of an ever bloodier war, this is why we want a ceasefire, talks and peace.” The Hungarians have learnt that the good and bad sides of history will be determined by the great powers that will eventually prevail, and they have no interest whatsoever in what is good or bad for the Hungarians, he underlined.
According to Mr Orbán therefore “we must stay on the Hungarian side of history even in the most complex and most difficult situations.”
The Prime Minister said though we are surrounded by land from every direction, we are in actual fact an island country.
The Hungarians came here one thousand one hundred years ago, designated their accommodation, among and in the squeeze of strangers. We created our state in the shadow of “countries bigger than us” and established the Hungarian order of life which we have upheld ever since, for more than one thousand one hundred years.
“We speak our language that is incomprehensible for everyone else. We write our literature to depths and heights inaccessible for others, and navigate our country in the European storm with a way of thinking that others cannot penetrate,” the Prime Minister highlighted.
Mr Orbán said “it is for us to say who can come in, who can stay, who can live with us and who can’t. And we also want to determine how our lives can connect with our neighbours.”
“We’re not better or worse, but different,” and this differentness stems from Hungarian culture, the Prime Minister pointed out.
In his address, the Prime Minister sent his regards to “the city of Veszprém in Pannonia” which is a European cultural capital from today, proving former Prime Minister József Antall’s statement that “we’re Hungarians, and so Europeans.”
The Prime Minister pointed out that verse 28 of Chapter 21 of the Gospel of Luke casts for us a light on the message and more profound meaning of the National Anthem. Lines that belong together, as if they had been written by a single soul: “This nation has suffered for all sins Of the past and of the future,” and so “stand up and lift up your heads.”
Mr Orbán stressed that “we are Hungarians who are not and will never be inferior to other peoples, and in our special ways we are at least as good, honest and respectable a people as any other.” The rest, everything else is for the Lord to decide, he added.
We will see in two hundred years’ time who will remain standing and which nations will be eliminated by “the Lord of History,” the Prime Minister said in conclusion.