Saturday, December 21, 2013

Depending on Your Point of View

Different informal, friendly exchanges with Ukrainians have confirmed my impression that "Euromaidan" 2013 is another landmark in an ongoing process in the life of a people. An older person told me that it is for many unthinkable that people have achieved such freedom and confidence in self-expression: in living memory, laughing at a joke or telling a cute story could have landed you on a train to Kazakhstan or Siberia, but not so today. A young woman told me of meeting comrades in arms of the Orange Revolution now on Maidan with their children, more determined than ever for their future in freedom under a genuine rule of law. Just this evening I saw a young father pushing a baby buggy in the park; he had a neat ribbon in the national colors tied to his parka; his world and his child's holds much promise.

We can't forget, of course, that this side of heaven justice doesn't get much beyond an approximation of that willed for His people by the God Who loves us. Even so, those who would serve their people in the political sphere should probably enroll in the school of Maidan, to learn something of the dignity of the human person and what they, by their service to the nation, should be promoting. Strong-arming, conditioning or containing are not worthy of the people as created in the image and likeness of God, as truly noble.

One of the sobering aspects of all this is recognizing how much Ukraine is left to its own in this all. One of the nicest statements of solidarity I have come across is Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt's KvivPost op-ed from the 20th of December, posted on the Embassy's Page as well. He entitles it "Ukraine in 2014", sort of ominous as it sounds a bit like pre-holiday, see you next year. His assessment of the situation and prospects for the future is great, no contest:

"Based on all I have seen in my first few months here, I remain very optimistic about Ukraine’s future and am firmly convinced that any lasting solution to the current political situation must involve the Government of Ukraine working with the people of Ukraine, and their representatives, to forge a path all can agree on toward a brighter tomorrow.  In particular, I am inspired by the vibrancy of Ukraine’s civil society, evidenced so dramatically over the past three weeks."

Maybe he and the European Union with their line about how "the door remains open" are somewhat disconcerting for me because that all ends up being reduced to a sort of admonition to get on the stick economically and without further delay:

"In October, when I addressed students at the National University of the Kyiv Mohyla Academy (NAUKMA) I spoke of challenges and the potential I saw here, but I also spoke about an introspective Ukraine.  A Ukraine that often looks inward to focus on its problems.  I want to reiterate my thesis – you may need to look inward for the strength to make and face tough decisions, but only by engaging, with one another, with society writ large and with the world can Ukraine come to embody the change its citizens are demanding and fully participate in global affairs."

What's so wrong with a little more introspection? Where else in the world do you find a society which has gotten it right, if you will? I don't want to take anything away from politicians or diplomats, but I think we all could enroll in the school of Maidan and learn something about the basis for peaceful social change being repentance done for violence and disrespect for our neighbors. I cannot help but think that if their hearts were to change our oligarchs here could successfully invest in this nation.

Maybe a priest's point of view isn't practical enough to get the job done, either short or long term. I really don't care. Distopias around the world we know aplenty; utopias are not to be striven for. But we could spread a table; we could give people equal protection under the law; we could give people hope and reason not to emigrate.

Ambassador, don't mind my reservations; you published a great statement. I'm really convinced that beyond good sense, beyond reasonableness, leadership whether present or emerging must experience a profound change of heart and come to love and serve their people. We'll entrust this one in prayer to the Lord, Who rules the universe and all it contains.

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