BRAMA, January 15, 2010, 9:00 AM ET|
By Bishop Paul Peter Jesep
Ukraine’s Orange Revolution lives! The country’s cultural and spiritual reawakening shows that requiems and obituaries are premature.
President Viktor Yushchenko has been criticized for his political and economic stewardship. Some of it justified. Although not yet recognized, his legacy is positive and significant. He is the first Ukrainian president who embraced and encouraged the country’s distinct Eastern Slav consciousness. Yushchenko challenged his countrymen, Jew, Muslim, Christian, and non-believer to ask who they were as one Ukrainian nation. He reached out to Jews and Muslims as no leader has before to underscore their contributions to Ukraine.
Ultimately, a country’s soul is defined by its artists, writers, composers, and the language its people speak. Although unable to show a deft touch in educating those who identified with Russian culture in eastern Ukraine or the Crimea, Yushchenko nurtured a national reawakening. He did so, in part, at the expense of bread and butter issues during a worldwide recession.
Yushchenko showed no sympathy in dealing with Russia’s national identity crisis. What does it mean to be Russian without Kyiv, the Mother of All Russian cities? His indifference fueled Moscow’s ongoing efforts to marginalize Ukrainian culture, language, and history in the international media.
According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukraine is nothing more than a break away province. He incorrectly insists that it never existed as a nation prior to the breakup of the Soviet Union. Ukraine has a thousand year history. Its final incorporation into Russia occurred when Empress Catherine finally defeated the libertarian, free-spirited Ukrainian kozak state with its rudimentary democratic structure.
Spiritually, there can be no Russia without Kyiv. Culturally, politically, and intellectually Moscow cannot let go of Ukraine because to do so leaves its own national identity in question. The Eastern Slavic soul beats in Kyiv, not Moscow, Novgorod, St. Petersburg, or any where else in Russia or Belorussia.
It’s ironic that Viktor Yanukovych, the Moscow supported presidential candidate from eastern Ukraine, recently told the Associated Press that "the development of … democratic principle in our country" was a "price … too great."
Yet Yanukovych benefits from the very freedom he criticizes in his campaign. During the Associated Press interview Yanukovych also mocked the Ukrainian language as "gibberish" and the messiness of democracy as a "variety show." He vows commitment to a Leninist "rule of law" and the restoration of the Russian language to its superior place.
Regardless of who is the country’s president, the sky is blue if Ukrainians in the country and those in the Diaspora work to cultivate the Ukrainian language. If young artists, writers, dancers, musicians, composers, and Christian and non-Christian spiritual leaders in Ukraine nurture the Ukrainian-Eastern Slav soul then the wheat fields are golden.
President Yushchenko opened the door. Complacency will shut it. The Orange Revolution is not about personalities. It is about ideas, values, and principles. It's about the culture of a people. Ukrainians are the only Eastern Slav people with the courage to wrestle with the challenges of democracy. Democracy is not about convenience. It is about liberty.
The Orange Revolution can and will live on so long as patriots and those in the Diaspora recognize the critical importance of promoting Ukrainian art, culture, language, and literature. It will not matter who is president so long as ordinary Ukrainians in Ukraine and the Diaspora work to nurture, preserve, and further the country's distinct heritage.
Bishop Paul Peter Jesep
Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church Kyiv-Patriarchate
U.S. Spokesperson for His Beatitude Metropolitan Myfodii of Kyiv and All Ukraine
PMB 464 - 1737 Union Street
Schenectady, New York 12309
* * * * *
Apr 22 12 - Op-ed: Aiding and Abetting the Moscow Patriarchate
Mar 23 12 - Friends of Ukraine Take Action
Feb 24 12 - Will Ukraine have Its First Modern Political Martyr?
Jan 23 12 - Holocaust Remembrance Day
Dec 30 11 - Ukrainian World Praise for Major Archbishop Shevchuk
Dec 21 11 - Lessons from Muscovy
Aug 10 11 - Russian Truth
Apr 14 11 - President Yanukovych's Chance to Show Leadership
Mar 14 11 - An Open Letter to Viktor Yanukovych
Aug 27 10 - Independent Ukraine 2010
Jan 31 10 - Remembering Ukraine's Jews
Jan 15 10 - Orange Forever!
Aug 27 09 - UAOC Mourns the Passing of Senator Edward Kennedy
Jan 14 08 - UAOC Bishop Condemns United Fatherland and Union of Orthodox Citizens
Oct 25 07 - Bishop calls for Annual Holocaust Memorial Day
May 28 07 - Priests try to end anti-Semitism
Feb 12 07 - Statement on Anti-Semitism
Feb 5 07 - Kyiv Patriarchate Appoints U.S. Director of Public Affairs
Nov 23 05 - Archbishop Husar's Orange Revolution of Faith
Sep 12 05 - Yushchenko showed leadership
Sep 7 05 - Metropolitan Mefodiy of Kyiv to visit America
Sep 2 05 - UAOC issues strong condemnation of anti-semitism
Apr 28 05 - Yushchenko at the Kennedy Library
Apr 1 05 - Diaspora rebirth begins in dialogue
Mar 11 05 - The Politics of Orthodoxy
Feb 11 05 - The Diaspora's Future
Jan 21 05 - Ukraine, Orthodoxy, and the Greek Prelate
Dec 22 04 - Has the Diaspora failed? Can more be done?
Dec 22 04 - Russia will not leave Ukraine alone
Dec 14 04 - God, Faith and the Orange Revolution
Dec 8 04 - Ukraine must run the extra mile
Dec 1 04 - Cage the Russian Circus Bear
Nov 24 04 - Support liberty - Practical things you can do
Nov 22 04 - Ukraine's Election - NOW WHAT?
Oct 11 04 - Catholic Patriarchate in Kyiv
Sep 29 04 - Kuchma and the American presidential election
Aug 13 04 - Op-ed: Foreign churches cannot dictate a unilateral non-Ukrainian spirituality in Ukraine (Patriarch Filaret and Ukrainian Spirituality)
Jul 26 04 - Op-ed: Viktor Yushchenko and Ukraine's future (Ukraine needs a patriot as its next leader)
Mar 18 04 - Ukrainian influence in the 2004 American presidential election
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