#1: Be Brave!There have been a lot of people, myself included, who have likened this situation to the beginning of World Ward Two. On a global scale, people are frightened of a new era of Russian expansionism. From the Ukrainian point of view, however, there is another war that is far more relevant: the American Revolutionary War.
Whatever else might be said in patriotic songs and stories, our war for independence was fought against a vastly superior force and with a very divided country. There were large portions of the population who felt that their interests would best be served by staying allied with Great Britain. It can be deeply discouraging when there are some of your own countrymen who feel more loyalty to the enemy than to their own homeland.
Still, there is great encouragement to be found in the story as well. We never could have beaten the British in open war. We were too divided and they were too strong. In the end, we didn't really have to. All we had to do was to make it too much of a pain to stay. For all the analogies that have been flying around, Putin is not Hitler. Hitler was a raving zealot, ready to kill or die for his fanatic beliefs. Putin, on the other hand, seems cold and calculating, and certainly given to enjoying the good things in life. He did not seize the Crimea for the good of its people or for some misguided ideal. He invaded for economic reasons, for money, to make a grab for your ports and long term financial benefits. He will not stay if you make it too troublesome for him.
So even when it seems hopeless, I would tell you to resist. Even when it seems like you are beaten, I would tell you to fight. And even when the enemy seems as mighty as a bear, I would remind you that even great bears limp at a small thorn in their paw.
All you have to do to win back your country is to be the thorn.
#2: Be Braver!Any revolution worth having is worth having again. Your great temptation when you have won your battles will be to relax and try to pick up the pieces. The truth is that Ukraine had widespread problems before Yanukovych. There must be an open war waged against corruption at every level of government. There must be protests against the organized crime that drowns honest businesses.
For Ukraine to realize its potential, each and every citizen must take responsibility for the good of the country. Your government, no matter how just, cannot save you. That is not even the government's job.
There comes a moment after the loud chants and songs, a moment where quiet courage is needed. This greater bravery is needed to work every day to build a better Ukraine, to believe that the efforts you put in to making your home and neighborhood better will pay off in the long run for you and your children.
#3: Be Bravest!Bravery is measured by the obstacles you must overcome within yourself. Understanding this, there is almost no greater bravery than forgiveness. When the dust has settled and what's done is done, you will look to your neighbors. There will be those that did nothing, there will be those who supported Russia, and there will be the nation of Russia itself, your national neighbor.
You would be completely justified in feeling anger and resentment towards these neighbors. None would judge you if you hated them. But all that justice will not make you great, only mercy can do that.
Forgive your neighbors who stood idly by or even opposed you. Show them the benevolence and dignity of a Ukrainian. They will see the future of the country in you and they will believe.
Last of all, I would ask you to forgive Russia. It is not the Russian people who ordered the invasion of Crimea or the corruption of your leaders. It mostly falls on Putin, and he will not be president forever. The history between the US and Britain is long and blood-soaked, but now we have become the greatest of allies, even when our politics do not agree.
It may be too early to think this way, but I can foresee a time when Ukraine and Russia can deal with each other as equals, working together to increase the welfare of both their peoples. Holding on to feelings of anger and hatred would rob you of that future and leave you watching your back for the rest of time. Everyone deserves better.
#Ukraine #Putin #riseagain