En Esperanto.
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Speech at the Third Congress

in Cambridge

je la 12-a de aŭgusto de 1907

Dear comrades!

According to the custom up to now, I start my speech allowing myself, in my name and that of every participant in this congress, manifest my greeting and thanks to the land which accepts us as guests, mainly to our British colleagues, who have prepared this celebration for us with a lot of work and care. From the moment when our British friends invited us to their place, we were convinced that our congress in their land would have a special meaning and would be a milestone in history. And it is not difficult to foresee that our hope will not deceive us, because this guaranties not only the known energy and generosity of our British friends, but also the character of their country itself. The fact that we are having a congress now at the glorious university city of Great Britain has a great meaning. Those who combat our idea repeat constantly that the English speaking peoples will never join us, because they not only feel the craving for an international language least of any other people, but also that for them the strengthening of an international language is against their interests, since such a language would contend in the world most than against any other one, against English, which intends to become international. And however, behold how mistaken our antagonists are! Behold how manifold the British have already joined us; the British, who are not so willing to learn other languages except their own national one; behold how lovingly they have prepared our congress and in how big a number they have appeared to wish us welcome! This proves more anything that people have started already to understand that an international language is useful not only for weak countries, but also for the powerful ones; but this shows also another thing which is much more important: people see in Esperantism not only a thing of selfish opportunity, but an important idea of inter people justice and brotherhood, and the noble persons from any people want to serve to this idea, not regarding whether these peoples are strong or weak, and whether this justice helps or annoys themselves. We know that most of our British colleagues were brought by the inner idea of Esperantism, and we thank them most joyfully for that. Cambridge accepts us today not like tradesmen who bring profit for them, but as apostles of a human idea which they understand and like; warm and friendly thanks to Cambridge, also to the glorious Cambridge University, which offers us its rooms, warmest thanks to the City Council, who have cared for our welfare. WE also warmly greet you, great British people, we most respectfully greet your highest representative, His Majesty. Long live to the King, May God keep Him.

At the moment of the opening of our Third Congress we cannot omit a few words about the many friends whom Death sized during the last year; you all remember that after the Geneva Congress we knew about the unfortunate death of Dr. Lloyd, president of the Liverpool Group. We lost also two eminent friends of our goal, the famous scientist Berthelot and Professor Michael Foster, who hoped to receive us in Cambridge. Finally, our dearest colleague and friend who was the soul of our congresses till now, the main motor in our last congress in Geneva, the founder, supporter and inspirator of our Congress Committee also died. You all know whom I am talking about. Our unforgettable friend Javal does not exist any more. To you, esperantist friends from every country, and to you, dear hosts who appreciate our purpose, I suggest that we honor the memory of our very worthy colleague and that of every dead esperantist by standing from our chairs.

Three weeks ago it was exactly twenty years from the day when the first book of our language Esperanto appeared in the open. All over the world esperantists celebrated that day. As the founder of Esperanto, I received in that day many congratulating telegrams and letters. Because I have not a secretary, but I must do everything in my free hours, you will understand very easily that I cannot answer every expression of friendship I received, and I will be forgiven for that. I am using now this good occasion to express my most sincere thanks to you all who have sent me your friendly good wishes. The congratulations belong not just to me personally, of course, but to the whole group of Esperanto fighters, and I am just the center point where these congratulations gather together, to jump again from there to all the sides of the world, all the places where our tireless comrades live and work.. As if silently commissioned by the whole of the esperantists I call all the fighters for Esperanto: I congratulate you! Most heartily I congratulate you because you held out patiently during twenty years, in spite of the many attacks and nasty things which none of you did not miss during this time. I congratulate you heartily because of those results which your driving and generous twenty year long work has given. Twenty years of labor for Esperantism! What this means -it will be understood afterwards, when the detailed history of Esperantism will be read. What enormous importance our present acquisitions have is something which will be known only afterwards, too, when the history of our first years are known, when the making of any new esperantist was linked to unending work and sacrifice. Many of you know the history of the last ten years of Esperantism, and when the long sleeping seeds started giving their first little branches; but very few of you know the history of the first ten years, which consisted of an unending apparent unsuccessful sowing. The history of Esperantism some day will tell you about every one of those farmers. Now our business stands strongly. The cold table of world prejudices is already broken, and our sowing grows regularly and unstopped. Every year our forces increase powerfully, and we go on to our goal with peace in our hearts. Hundreds of thousands of roots and rootstocks support our tree, which is not afraid of the wind any more. Nature, who fought us for a long time, now fights for us because that very same inertia force which hindered our step so much for so long now pushes us forward. Even if we wanted to stop, we couldn't stop now.

Now I will go to the true topic of my speech of today. I want to talk today about the essence and goal of our congresses. But to avoid any kind of misunderstanding I will clarify from the beginning that my talk is not something official, but it presents simply my personal opinion, which everyone of you can approve of or not. Because we decided to meet every year from any country in the world and many of we make a very great sacrifice to be able to participate in our congresses, we must for that reason clarify why we meet. If we were aware of the essence and goal of our congresses properly, then we would come to them always freshly and with a never weakening enthusiasm, like people who see before them their beautiful goal clearly, the goal to which they go. But if we are not conscious of the goals of our congresses, then we will soon get half hearted about them like people who wander with no destination and to whom that wandering soon tires and bothers. What do we meet for? Do we meet to speak about Esperanto language questions? No, we don't! Those questions do not belong to the congress, but exclusively to the Language Committee, and it would be enough a Committee meeting for that. Do we meet to practice our Esperanto speaking? Just for that we do not need to come to the congress, because at our home groups we can practice much more during the whole year than in the few days of the congress, and for just a few days' practice nobody would make such a journey. Do we meet to make a manifest and its concerning propaganda? Yes, of course! But since from any hundred there are at least ninety congressists who have just moral profits in Esperanto, what do we advertise it for? I don't have any doubt that most of you will give me just one answer: we advertise and support Esperantism not because of its usefulness which we all personally can achieve out of it, but because of that important meaning which Esperantism has for the whole mankind, because of that goal for every man which we, active esperantists, have given to Esperanto; we meet at the congress every year from all the parts of the world to have the joy to see comrades, to shake their hands, to warm up the love and enthusiasm for the idea which Esperanto has in itself in one another by our gathering and living together. As the old Hebrew met three times a year in Jerusalem to warm up their love for the monotheist idea in them, we also meet at the capital city of Esperantoland to enliven the love for the esperantist idea in us. And this is the main essence and goal of our congresses. Because the world always understood that Esperantism was tightly tied to a certain inner idea, and that many people did not want to learn and use Esperanto just because they did not want to be regarded like partisans of any idea, that is why -not to fright away the great mass- we felt the compulsion to explain by means of the Boulogne Declaration that simple Esperantism, i.e., the use of the language Esperanto, forces no one being partisan of this or that idea, that every esperantist is still a totally free man and some esperantists are not responsible for the ideas of the others. But if the simple practical Esperantism, i.e., the simple learning and use of Esperanto, does not force anybody to join any idea, however nobody can doubt that everybody, or at least most people, who fights for Esperanto joins a common idea, which becomes all the impulse of their work. Any private esperantist can have those convictions or do whatever things he wants and we are not responsible for his or her convictions or deeds, the same as he or she is not responsible for ours. That person can be the biggest egotistic, chauvinistic, hater of people or even the most ignoble criminal, and if he just uses the language Esperanto we cannot forbid him to use the name Esperantist . But if he wants to come to the Esperanto congress or if he wants to join any other institution which bears the green banner, then the matter changes. Then he comes to a land which has its special laws, morals and principles. In Esperantoland not only the language Esperanto rules, but also the inner idea of Esperantism. In the land of Esperanto not only the official general Esperantism rules, but there rules also something different, something till now still not formulated with precision, but very well felt by every inhabitant of Esperantoland -there rules the green banner! What is this Green Banner? If for some tradesmen who uses Esperanto just to sell his goods, or for a sportsman who uses Esperanto just for fun, our banner is a simple symbol for our language, a simple decoration agreed upon for our congresses and institutions. We, esperantist-fighters certainly see in our banner something else: for us it is something holy, the sign under which we march to our peaceful battle, it is the voice which constantly reminds us that we are working for Esperanto not just because we hope that more or less true, perhaps after many centuries, on a neutral language foundation, understanding one another, peoples will make in agreement a large family circle . We repeat constantly that we all do not wish to get involved in the domestic affairs of peoples, but we desire just to create a linking bridge among them. The motto for the esperantist ideas, never before precisely defined but always clearly felt, is We wish to create a neutral foundation on which the varied human races can progress and communicate in peace among them without forcing upon one the other's racial peculiarities . Such, according to my opinion, is the motto of the Green Banner, of this beautiful and grand Green Banner which assembles us every year from all over the world in the name of mankind's most beautiful dream. It has not still come the time to define exactly every detail of the mentioned motto; it will be defined by itself little by little by means of our yearly shared weeks. I wanted just to draw your attention to the fact that our congress, made under the sign of the Green Banner, are not just congresses of the language Esperanto, but also under the inner idea of Esperantism. Hence every topic in which we feel the spirit of the Green Banner, everything which leads to the breaking of the walls among the peoples, belongs to our congress. You have often heard about the neutrality of our congresses. Yes, neutrality is the main principle in our congresses; but it must be understood exactly the meaning of this neutrality. There is neutrality in every international congress; but while in them neutrality is a simple question of style, among us it is the main principle, among us neutrality, or more exactly the neutrality of among peoples' relationships is all the contents, the whole goal for our task. Therefore we must never speak in our congresses about specially political matters, which belong to diplomats, or specifically religious affairs, which belong to the theologians or philosophers, -for the Green Banner forbids us do anything which can offend this or that people or religious group; but everything which offends no one can create a peaceful bridge among peoples not only must not be avoided in fear in our congresses, but on the contrary it should be exactly the core of our congresses, since it belongs to the Green Banner. If we remember the requests of the Green Banner. then we will not be afraid speak and do more, then we will go to our aims consciously and bravely, and our congresses will become more and more interesting and important for the word year by year. The Green Banner will stop being a coward sign of silence, it will become a sign of work. Everything which leads to the breaking of the walls among peoples belongs to our congress. Wide and large are the relations among peoples and nations, and wide and numerous are the topics which we must talk about. For example, without intending to step on anybody's toes, you can suggest in our congresses international systems regarding the pertinence and neutrality of international relations, lie, for example, an international money system, a time system, a calendar, etc., and then we will be able to explore whether the proposal is good or not, but we must not say whether the discussion about those projects is against our program. We can be also suggested the arrangement of some among peoples celebrations which could exist at the same time as the special celebrations for every people and church and would serve to link the peoples among them; we could be suggested also other similar things. The time to talk about everything in detail has not come yet , so excuse me if I assign just a few words to what I would like to discuss largely with you; but always progressively, starting for shallow matters and then going to more important ones, starting for purely material things and going into every side of human spirit and moral. We will be suggested different facilities which serve to befriending of men and the breaking of the walls among the peoples, and all this will be evaluated by us, accepted or not, but we will never reject anything blindly, without considering it first. Because everything which is useful for befriending peoples and for breaking down hostile walls among them -provided we do not get into the inner life of the concerning peoples-, belongs to the Green Banner.

The ones who met in Cambridge Dear friends,
I have explained what -in my opinion-must be the aim of our congresses. While every private esperantist can be happy just by using the language Esperanto, our congresses -from my point of view- must work not only for the language, but also for the inner idea of Esperantism. I repeat that all this is only my private opinion, which of course I don't want to submit as a sort of official program for our congresses. Our congress must be a simple congress of esperantists and, provided that its program is prepared according to the congress rules, it must remain totally free and conform every time to the opinions and desires of the majority of the congressists. But whether you will approve my opinion or not, whether you will want to work along the postulates of the Green Banner or not -I do not doubt that at the bottom of your hearts you all feel the Green Banner, you all feel that it is something more than a simple symbol for a language. And the more we participate in our yearly congresses, the more we will fraternize and the more the principles of the Green Banner will permeate our souls. Many people joins Esperantism out of sheer curiosity, sport, or even expecting to make profit; but from the moment they come to Esperantoland, they, in spite of their own will, always enter and submit more and more to the laws of that land. Little by little Esperantoland will become the school of the future fraternizing mankind, and this will be the most important merits of our congresses. Up with Esperanto, but before anything, up with the aim and the inner idea of Esperantism, up with the fraternizing of peoples, up with everything which breaks the walls among the peoples, may it live, grow and mature the Green Banner!

L.L. Zamenhoff

Translated and
HTMLed by Jesuo de las Heras je la 29-08-1997

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