What is to be Ukrainian today?

 

There are values shared by people all over the world; there are concepts that will never lose their importance because they are the sources of love, joy, and happiness. The family is one of them.

But who is your family? Your relatives? Your friends? What if your family is something more than that.

I am not a philosopher, nor a sage; I am not trying to give a general statement about how everybody should think and what they are to believe in. Do not perceive it wrong. What I am about to tell you is my truth, a truth that the soul resists to hold inside.

Ukraine is my family. Yes, not just the group of people but the country; not only those I love but the land that unites me with them. One nation, one spirit and so many difficulties that we have been facing throughout the history. So many wars and enemies – from outside and even from within. We have had our rises and falls, joy and tears, gains and losses. From generation through generation, we have been passing our story, so that this long and thorny journey would never be forgotten. We feel ourselves as a part of it.

Ukraine is our family.

Nevertheless, my roots are barely from this part of the world. In this family tree, I have branches from Ukraine, Russia, Africa and who knows on what other continents my ancestors have walked. My father is from Gold Cost – Ghana, and my mother comes from the land of Ukraine’s older sister – Russia. However, when asked about their nationality, they answer in one voice: “I am Ukrainian.” I wish I could explain the reactions to this, especially when somebody hears this phrase from an obviously African man. But what makes them say that? What makes our dad miss Ukraine whiles visiting his motherland? Why would a woman raised in eastern Siberia fall in love with the country of the blue-and-yellow flag?

I was once  asked: “What is it for you to be a Ukrainian  today?” I thought. I could not give a quick respond – not because I had no clue or no desire to answer this question. No. I gave myself a second to realize what I am expected to say. Do they want to hear: “I can find anything we need there!”? But that is not true, of course; “It has one of the highest rates in the world in the economic sphere!”? Not at all; “It is the safest place you can find!”? Unfortunately, we cannot boast about that either. “But I am proud to be Ukrainians, right?”– I asked myself inside. 

I  face a dilemma.

Does the family have to be rich to be happy? Yes, it is hard to smile with empty pockets, I agree. But is that the most crucial part? Does the feeling of safety guarantee your being loved or feeling truly at home? So, maybe, those stereotypical criteria do not explain your desire to belong to a particular nation?… It is not about how high you set the bar, but rather what kind of measures you use to find the results. 

I thought it over for a little longer. 

Our ancestors have shed their blood so that we can live in a free, independent state; those people who have walked on the same land where we do, sacrificed their lives so their descendants can have what many nations cannot have today. Theoretically, if we look at the history of Ukraine, there is no doubt that we were not even supposed to be an accepted government at present. The small piece of land that has been conquered many times by dozens of kingdoms and empires, now, is the largest country in Europe. We have our beautiful language. Our borders start from mountains of Carpathians and end at the Black Sea. We have a chance to claim our soil as one of the most fertile on the Earth. World champions of a number of sports are constantly raising the blue-and-yellow flag on the prize pedestals; Ukrainian space applications have are being used on an international level; we can also boast about sensational victory on Eurovision, which took place recently. Are we not the living proof of achievement of goals that would have seemed to be impossible a few decades ago? 

Ukraine is our family. 

When being in those rich, well-developed countries, I can see an apparent contrast between them and where I live. Would I prefer moving there? Not really. Somebody once said: “Your home is where your family is” So simple but so true. Would you trade your family for a better life? Would it make your life better? Not in my case. Do I judge those who move to a different a country? Of course, I do not. Nevertheless, “trading family” is only a personal comparison. I am merely sharing the truth that the soul resists to hold inside – Ukraine is my family. 

So, then I asked ourselves again: “What is it to me to be a Ukrainian  today?” It is to know that I am home; to know that I belong to something more than just a country or a group of people – one land, one nation and one spirit. That is what connects us. 

And yet, there is deceit and betrayal, the blood of the innocents and undeserving punishment – it is not a secret. Unfortunately, it is the ugly truth. But should we blame the land or those who have failed to be loyal to her? Those who have abused her and abandoned to her fate … Those “servants of the nation” are just the usual anti-heroes that every story has. So, we accept the truth. We know we are not perfect, but it will not prevent us from saying: “Ukraine is our family.” 

It is quite easy to bring up reasons to complain; not much effort is needed to blame or express dissatisfaction. Perhaps, that is why people are so good at it. Ability to find pride where everybody sees flaws is what is missing. It is not about how hard you search for it, but more about why you see what you see. Being a patriot is difficult when you demand reasons for that since they have a trait to disappear. The thing is we do not need any motivation or logical explanation because they are fragile. Patriotism is not an abstract, nor a concrete concept, it is a lifestyle based on simple, however, strong beliefs and unconditional love. We love our country for it is our country. 

Some people may call me “naïve” but that’s okay, I still believe. 

What is to be a Ukrainian today? It is to be the continuation of the long story; the mirror of our ancestors’ feats; to feel the honor to be members of a large family rather than just citizens of a country; those for whom loyalty is not something unilateral but a mutual benefit. If we give up on her, who will support? If we neglect, who will then care? 

We know we have numerous challenges to go through; we know it is going to be tough, but what we also know – we are not alone in this battle, we are the keepers of each other’s backs and more than that, we have our Father. God, bless Ukraine and bless us all.

Fred Taylor

 


I’m always glad to hear not only good comment but also critics, suggestions and so on. Hopefully, reading this blog will not be a waste of time for anyone, but rather it will be a source of inspiration, new and useful ideas or at least just a pleasant “balm” for your minds. So, if you enjoyed my thoughts, please share it on social networks to let others read it!

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