The Return of Civil Society
Exactly when it seems hope is lost, cynicism reigns, and corruption runs as rampant as ever, a civil movement of Albanian students now promises to be the country's saving grace. The group represents a strong and hopeful voice seeking to turn the country away from its path of current destruction. Their message starkly contrasts with the warped hope of the ruling elites, whose twisted intent has been to cultivate an Albanian society which would best accommodate select preferences - a society comprised of those who submit, those who are complicit, and those who leave because of the systemic challenges facing the country. Yet, against this difficult reality, the Albanian student movement offers a glimmer of optimism that could return dignity to a deeply scarred people. Yet, this should be viewed with caution as true hope in a fallen world is always fragile.
Why is this movement civil?
The tyranny of corruption in Albania is at last being challenged. The challenge is not coming from external pressures or by a virtuous introspective awakening of the ruling elites, but by that part of society that always calls for return to sanity and dignity - the civil society. It is truly civil because it is not merely in the streets asking for more rights and the satisfying of whims. It is up against an evil that corrupts the self and society. It senses the material corruption. It knows this leads to moral corruption. Ultimately, this is a dead-end road. At a time of rampant materialism, it is ironic that the students who are being talked down to as inferior, less educated, and told they need to "retake the exams," are teaching the rest of the world lessons forgotten by the pariah and the most 'educated' of scholars in country and abroad. We have conveniently forgotten the wisdom that goes back to Plato, Socrates, St. Augustine, Boethius and Aquinas which taught us repeatedly that a corrupt society will not sit well with a person of virtue. Maybe those in power, or even seeking power, were trying to keep people subdued by corrupting and lulling them into political and social apathy. Many of us started down a path of despondency, losing hope in the past few decades that such people of virtue even existed anymore, or if they did, whether they could rise and bring change. It is humbling to see the hope that people of virtue resurrect, or at least to notice that the ruling and would-be ruling elites failed to corrupt or force the submission of the entire society. The remnant has now gone into the streets.