President Alar Karis: I know we can do it together

President Alar Karis.
President Alar Karis. Source: Kairit Leibold/ERR

Will 2022 be easier? I do not know the answer to this. But I know that together we will make it, President Alar Karis says in his New Year's address.

The doors of time are open – the old will usher in the new.

Today, at the turning of the calendar, we can see how the previous year has left us with heavy steps, bearing the burden of a year of turmoil.

But it will not take away this burden, and we will still be here. According to the words and thoughts of writer Ene Mihkelson: We have always known that we belong among people, not those who are forever on the run.

We cannot escape our own lives. And why should we? Together we got through a year that was complicated and personally difficult for many and refused to let ourselves be drawn apart by different opinions, even though families and friends may have been occasionally divided into two camps. But they will come together again, and we will come together again.

In the past year, our spirits were lifted by the Olympic victory of Estonian fencers, Anett Kontaveit's courageous matches, many small and large enterprises that kept the economy running and new unicorns among local startups. All of them have one thing in common: their brilliant result was the culmination of years of smart work and dedication – that is to say, it was achieved by following a formula that has given our small country a place among the best in the world in many walks of life, from classical music to science.

The light in one's eyes, the willingness to learn and then learn some more, and persistence, but also good and dedicated teachers, lecturers, coaches, instructors and other supporters are all part of this formula. If we water the tree of education, we can harvest its fruit from every branch. Let this simple horticultural wisdom also be a guide for those who have been tasked with the quick and efficient improvement of higher education funding.

Together, we also learned and will continue to learn in the new year to tame the different faces of the coronavirus crisis and calm the rolling infection waves.

We understood, or, more precisely, many of us understood that by placing our trust in science, we are better protected from the virus, we can keep society as open as possible and formal education in schools instead of transitioning to digital learning and ensure that our hospitals can also treat other people besides coronavirus patients.

Will 2022 be easier? I do not know the answer to this. But I know that together we will make it. Every person has a role in our story of endurance. Medics, cashiers, schoolteachers, snowplow drivers, farmers, police officers and members of the Defense Forces, politicians and local government officials, volunteers... Every person in Estonia.

This way, as a nation, we will manage the pandemic and all other great concerns together. Let us be honest with ourselves: the virus will remain with us just like the migration pressure, terrorists, the wishes of some major powers to determine the fate of others and many other unpleasant things in our world.

We must cope with all of this. We will, provided we are not afraid.

Fear does not help. Neither with domestic nor international concerns. Together with our friends on this and the other side of the Atlantic, we will also withstand the attempts to lead the world back into the last century, where the great decided whose sphere of influence the small belonged to. Estonia is not alone and will not be left alone if we are able to see the world around us and identify not just the threats, but also the opportunities. Equally important is that Estonia will not leave its friends alone when they need help.

Wise and educated people – let this be part of our new year's wish.

The wisdom I speak of does not equate to academic performance. It is the wisdom to endure as people and a country.

The wisdom to doubt and the wisdom to decide.

The wisdom to quickly solve unpleasant issues so that they do not sink into the water like stones.

The wisdom to notice and support those who are left behind or alone.

The wisdom to listen and reply calmly, even to those who are of a different opinion.

The wisdom to not be ashamed of ignorance and the wisdom to learn.

The wisdom to rely on facts.

The wisdom to take note of criticism and the wisdom to change oneself.

But also the wisdom to learn also from foolishness and the wisdom of not letting it thrive.

The wisdom to understand that there is just one Estonia that we all share.

When speaking of wisdom, I do not aim to divide people into the wise and the foolish. I am speaking of foolishness and wisdom, because even a wise person can say foolish things. But it is worth listening to those who simply have more knowledge in a field. We should all listen. This is wisdom.

Let us look around us. From Valga to Narva, Sõrve to Varnja and Ristna to Piusa – Estonia is full of hard-working people and hope. And love. As Aleksandra Veršinina, a schoolgirl from Kohtla-Järve, once wrote to me: "Everything begins with love, also for your city."

Let us nurture this love for our loved ones, home, community and Estonia.

Now – let us boldly step forward, through the new door time has opened for us.

I wish us all a happy and better new year!


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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