Imagine living in a country wedged between two quickly expanding world religions, forced to defend an age-old belief system against new, invading ones. Imagine your neighbors using religion to gain foothold on your land and power over your rulers. Imagine the weapon industry, military as an occupation for the boys, and continuous life in fear required to defend a country for a long period of time. Imagine the numbers of defense forts required for a country geared towards continuous threat of terror. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Now reverse the clock about 800 years and watch history repeat itself.
Once upon a time, Lithuania was an empire stretching all the way from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. In the middle ages it withstood two hundred years of continuous attacks by Teutonic knights. A pagan state had to fight to survive between Byzantine and Western Christianity.
Today’s terrorism troubles feel like nothing when compared to 200 years of crusades into sovereign land “in the name of someone holy”.
After generation upon generation of neverending battle Lithuania realized that the only way to survive was to give up and convert to Catholicism. So much blood shed for the sake of belief can never be called a victory in the name of anything holy.
(Trakai island castle, Lithuania; April 2014)