Presidential Appeal: Let Us Reject Hatred, Decency Must be the Norm

Presidential Appeal: Let Us Reject Hatred, Decency Must be the Norm

President Čaputová invited over 30 figures from various spheres of public and social life to the Presidential Palace on Wednesday 23 February 2022, where she appealed to all citizens of the Slovak Republic for a “Return to Humanity”. She went on to discuss the current atmosphere in society with the invited guests and welcomed suggestions for guiding Slovakia out of the crisis.  

According to the president, we have undergone many crises and we need to look ahead. “Together we have gone through difficult times; we are going from one crisis to another and for many, the impact is extremely painful. The loss of loved ones, jobs, poverty, worries about security, limitations and bans have hurt many of us. Many of you feel frustration and the need to be assured that the state will help you in times of trouble. It is understandable that if this is not always the case, these feelings may result in anger. But they should never lead to hatred, because that is not the solution.”

The president emphasized that, particularly in recent weeks, it can seem that we have chosen a path from which there may be no return, because behind it there are only physical attacks and rudeness in public spaces. “We can see that we have gone too far when people who do their jobs in good conscience, cannot feel safe even in their homes. Physicians, scientists, policemen, rescue workers, politicians, deputies. Efforts to intimidate or punish those with different opinions is an affront to democratic ideals. This is an attack on the solidarity of society and may suggest efforts to establish a non-democratic or even totalitarian regime. Therefore, let us jointly reject hatred while there is time to do so. I am convinced that decency must prevail in Slovakia.” 

According to the president, we need reconciliation and we must do everything possible to achieve it. She also called on people to enter into dialogue. “I don’t have a formal game of dialogue in mind. Unfortunately, not everyone is genuinely interested in dialogue. Because democratic debate does not include humiliating an opponent or using lies as tool of argumentation. Let us perceive the diversity of our standpoints not only as something that divides and burdens us, but as an opportunity. Let’s not consider it as a reason to be enemies, but as a privilege of democracy. The same rules that apply to society also apply to families and interpersonal relations – problems will not turn into crises if we are able to talk about them with mutual respect. Because when we talk, we hear a different opinion and more importantly, we can see an individual behind it. This is what has changed in the past two years; personal communication is pushed out by yelling in an online space exacerbated by social network algorithms.” 

According to the president, democracy again needs an active, pulsating civil society. “Let’s maintain dialogue in our neighbourhoods, communities, in our towns and cities and let us update our arguments about where we belong, why we are democrats and why we appreciate certain values. Let us start from where we stand and let us do what we can. I will also continue in such dialogue, but more intensively.”

The president urged everyone who cares about our Slovakia to engage in this effort. “Let’s not lose hope. It is in us. In our determination, perseverance, mutual trust and decency. Hope is the decision to not give up. It is trust in the potential which we should help to fulfil. Hope is a resolution to stride in the face of a strong wind in the belief that better times lie ahead.”