Dear WCF X Invitee,
Every Georgian child knows this legend: when God created earth and gave lands to the nations, Georgians were late for the handout as they were honoring guests at a feast. Having come late, after all the lands were given to all the nations, they asked God to have mercy upon them, as they were hosting guests as a sign of His Grace. God forgave Georgians by giving them the last piece of land, which He saved for Himself. This is how Georgians got to live in Georgia.
US President George W. Bush during his visit to Tbilisi in 2005 called Georgia the “beacon of democracy.” Long regarded as the most pro-western former Soviet republic, Georgia is no ordinary place.
Legendary for its majestic beauty and authentic culture, Georgia has been a legend among travelers. Nobel Prize winning American writer, John Steinbeck, when visiting Soviet Union in 1948, wrote: “Wherever we had been in Russia… the magical name of Georgia came up constantly. People who had never been there, and who possibly never could go there, spoke of Georgia with a kind of longing and a great admiration. They spoke of Georgians as supermen, as great drinkers, great dancers, great musicians, great workers and lovers. And they spoke of the country in the Caucasus and around the Black Sea as a kind of second heaven. Indeed, we began to believe that most Russians hope that if they live very good and virtuous lives, they will go not to heaven, but to Georgia, when they die.” Humorous, but evidently not entirely untrue, as Steinbeck changed his initial route of travel within USSR and decided to visit the much talked about republic. Here is what he wrote after the visit: “It is a magical place, Georgia, and it becomes dream-like the moment you have left it. And the people are magic people. It is true that they have one of the richest and most beautiful countries in the world, and they live up to it. And we understood thoroughly now why Russians had always said to us, "Until you have seen Georgia, you have seen nothing."
Regarded by archaeologists as the birthplace of wine making (“Ghvino” is a Georgian word), metallurgy (Jason and the Argonaughts went for Golden Fleece to Georgia), land farming (“Geo”- means earth in Greek and “Orgia” – to turn upside-down, to plow), polyphonic singing, having one of 14 original alphabets in the world, being one of the oldest Christian countries in the world, Georgia has much to offer to its visitors. Go on the web and look up Georgian dance, songs, wine, cuisine and see for yourself.
Being at the geographic cross point between Asia and Europe, Georgia has absorbed all of the great cultural influences and imperial attacks and miraculously has managed to maintain its unprecedented authenticity. When in Georgia, you will be reminded of many great cultures you have seen, but you will know, you are in Georgia.
Modern times are as vibrant for Georgia, as ever. Once again being torn by the influences of modern great superpowers, being in the middle of the political chessboard, between Russia, Turkey and the west, Georgia has much to do in order to survive and to maintain its uniqueness.
On one hand, being more successful than most ex-soviet republics in modern reforms (you will see this by its modern airport, and customs and border control ease,) on the other Georgia is under a massive invasion of George Soros type sponsored western NGO’s, which are making it their business to interfere and influence the policy of the sovereign state, alter Georgia’s traditional family based values system. The number of radical liberal initiatives undertaken by them in Georgia, ranging from one of the most aggressive versions of the so-called anti- discrimination law to the introduction of gender theories based new subjects in Georgian schools, make Georgia an unprecedented playground for aggressive liberal experiments.
Traditional Georgian society remains awed by this. On one hand being one of the oldest European cultures and on the other hand seeing the unexpected metamorphosis of Europe, Georgia has to be very careful to walk the fine line between modernization and a spineless behavior and lethal absorption into the family destructive pseudo-culture that is overwhelming Europe as we speak. Independent minded Georgians wanted to break from the USSR in the quest for freedom of religion, private property and freedom of speech. Instead, modern western liberals seem to be offering to Georgians an insult of their Christian values, atheism, new forms of socialism and more taboos on freedom of thought and speech than we have seen in the last 25 years of USSR.
Being torn between the western support of Georgia’s territorial integrity and an unacceptable western liberal agenda on one hand and Russia’s occupation of two Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region and Russia’s rising conservatism and Christianity on the other, Georgia seems to be stuck between the rock and the hard place. And to find its narrow path to salvation, the way to absorb the best of both worlds without compromising its equally important territorial integrity and spiritual-cultural identity is perhaps the main task of modern generation of Georgians. Achieving this task is impossible either with intelligence or emotion only. Georgia needs to revert to its deep culture of emotional intelligence, something we call in Georgia “გული გონიერი“ („guli gonieri”– a mindful heart) and with God’s Grace be saved.
This is why we need you on the jubilee, the X World Congress of Families on May 15-18 in Tbilisi. Please come and share your wisdom and heart with us. Enjoy our unparalleled wine, cuisine, music, culture and hospitality, but also work with us, speak with us, listen and think with us.
If you would like to speak at the plenary session, do make sure to give us in March or no later than April 1st a written copy of your speech. The event will be televised throughout Georgia, an unprecedented measure for WCF, as we want the nation to hear you. And we know and you know that no simultaneous translation can capture the depths of an academic speech, hence please give us time for a proper translation, so that when you go to the microphone, the interpreter can follow you with a prepared text.
Last but not least, bring your family, if you can. For what is a World Congress of Families if we gather without our loved ones. We want your spouses and children to rejoice with us in celebrating Georgia, for there is no greater joy and honor for a Georgian than to host guests.
Chairman, World Congress of Families X