An Hour of Optimism with Ambassador Darius Degutis
"It's not only me. Most of us Lithuanians are indeed very optimistic."
Lithuanian Ambassador Darius Degutis is soon to become Lithuania's first resident Ambassador to Australia since the restoration of independence and democracy in 1991.
He stopped by to share his optimism with The Centre for Optimism's Victor Perton.
"Being afraid will not be part of our mentality, not being frightened, but being tolerant, being optimistic."
Victor Perton asked Darius, "What makes you optimistic?"
Darius Degutis: “You know, I would say that it’s not only me. Probably most of us Lithuanians are indeed very optimistic. Why? Because 30 years ago we had nothing, 30 years ago, we were part of an evil house, which was called the Soviet Union. And, this house, this jail, this prison had what I would say were remarkable features. One was to lie. Another was to make oneself fearful, to fear and to lie. So actually before 1991, when we became independent, all of us were a kind of rabbit in a biological experiment.
“The Soviets taught us their communist doctrines; these were lies. We knew that the doctrine was a lie.
"And the Soviets made us Lithuanians fearful.
"And we all were, I would say were absolutely pessimistic in those years.
"But when independence came, when our national movement Sajudis emerged, we started to believe.
"And especially we, the younger generation, we started to believe that yes, something is happening that yes, we will be free that yes, we will begin to a business economy. We will start doing marketing. We will have the truth.
“Being afraid will not be part of our mentality, not being frightened, but being tolerant, being optimistic.”
Victor Perton: Like my grandmother, your grandmother, suffered during the Soviet invasion and occupation. She had a tough life and remained optimistic. Can you talk about the influence of your grandmother and how she kept Lithuanian culture alive in your life as a teenager?
Darius Degutis: "My grandmother was indeed a very optimistic person .
"She remained optimistic despite the fact that before the war, when Lithuania was independent, she graduated from university, she was a mathematician and she worked in a very good successful bank. And she was materialistically and financially well-off.
"During the Soviet occupation, the authorities didn't allow her to work in any financial institutions. She became a bus conductor,
"She lived in a very, very small apartment in a house her father had built with the other rooms turned into apartments for strangers. There was no running water or indoor plumbing.
"In my teenage years, she taught me the history of an independent Lithuania. She taught me our history good and bad which was otherwise banned in schools, She taught me the value of religion and spirituality."
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