Saturday, November 1, 2014

Truth or Democracy?

Almost by chance, I stumbled on a hope-filled quote from the US Ambassador here in Kyiv, putting on a brave face, if you will, as Russian arms pour into Donetsk and as the Donbas prepares for a sham vote tomorrow [Remarks by Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, "The Menace of Unreality: Combating Russian Disinformation in the 21st Century", Legatum Institute, London, October 30, 2014]:

"Our best weapon in dealing with this, in answering this campaign of misdirection, of course, is the truth." 

He's absolutely right, you know, but that did not spare me an ever so brief "panic attack" earlier today while watching a news video on protests in Hungary against an internet consumption tax the government of that country had intended to impose. I think the "attack" was a cumulative reaction to a series of things out there which sort of came together when the news commentator said that the Budapest protest was reminiscent of the Kyiv "Maidan" which began almost a year ago: parallels between Hungary's President and Yanukovych over restrictions on basic freedoms were made. I simply asked myself, how do you compare, how do you so judge? I suppose an internet tax is as good a pretext for a revolution as any. Please excuse my irony. I am not saying that Ukraine has a monopoly on victimhood; I am saying that the world seems to have problems grasping what is at stake here and what we should be striving for in life beyond our next meal and uncontrolled internet access.

Sometimes I wonder if people are willing or able to grasp the sense of what has popularly been referred to here as a revolution of dignity. The history of the last year in Ukraine would have been quite different if young protesters on the square had not had to pay with life and health at the hands of storm troopers in the night of November 30. Saying no to indignity/oppression as Ukrainians did through the months of December, January and February somehow distinguishes itself from saying no to an internet tax. That is the truth and it is a distinction the West is seemingly still unwilling to grasp. Geopolitics really do not explain Ukraine's martyrs, its wounded, its heroes.

The new Russian menace in the east of the country will no doubt advance in these next days and sadly the fatalities will parallel Kyiv's hundreds lost, this time with tens of thousands lost and a region left generally in ruins like we see in the pictures of the Donetsk airport. Europe has its gas assured for this winter and Russia has its gas money. The pattern is established and crime's economy will proceed apace; no one will wonder when France delivers a couple so called Mistrals as it is all part of the bargain.

I remember a young man taking the microphone on the Maidan stage back in February and ordering Yanukovych out of town as elders and politicians stood by dumbfounded. Yanukovych fled with many of his henchmen and ill-gotten gains. These days I have heard newly elected parliamentarians express their resolve to clean up corruption and build a just nation that cares for its citizens. I have no reason to doubt that once again the small voice will ring true and Ukraine will move forward.

Ambassador Pyatt is right to say that lying propaganda, even on the massive scale we experience it today, can successfully be countered by the truth. Virtue, especially justice, too will see its day in Ukraine and beyond, perhaps sooner than we with all the answers and power could ever imagine.

Saints of God, come to our aid! Angels of God, be our safeguard and defense!
Eternal rest grant to all those fallen in innocence or in defense of justice and truth!

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