It is infrequent for the world to witness a fast birth of a nation. The text below is from https://hvylya.net/analytics/250475-narodzhennya-naciji (Lyubomyr Shavalyuk, April 9, 2022); my translation is from Ukrainian. Let’s listen to the testimony from Ukraine.
War brings many disasters
It destroys cities, property, people, and destinies. But at the same time, it burns everything superfluous. After all, thanks to it, material and mental layers disappear, which distort human value systems, hinder love and humanity, and atomize society. The fire of war leaves an ash heap on earth, in the economy, in souls and hearts.
But as the ashes later forge the vegetation and grow beautiful flowers, so after the war for society often comes a happy, albeit difficult life. War melts established and habitual forms, but at the same time melts heroism, brotherhood, compassion, self-sacrifice, and mutual aid. No matter how difficult the current war is for us, the Ukrainian nation is melting in its crucible right now.
What unites the nation?
This can be debated for a long time, but there is no single answer to this question. Because in each case there is a unique set of form factors. The nation must have something in common.
Shared roots? For some nations – yes, but not for Ukrainians, because during our centuries-old history, someone has been constantly running here and there on our land, leaving his share in our national composition, culture, toponymy, etc.
A common story? For some – yes, but not for Ukrainians, because during the First World War and the Second World War we fought on different sides of the barricades with different motivations.
A common culture? Probably, but not for Ukrainians, because our people from different parts of the country live very differently, and before the war, it often led to misunderstandings and prejudice, suspicious attitudes toward fellow citizens from other regions.
Common tragedies? Apparently, yes, but before the war, the only truly common tragedy could be called the Holodomor. However, judging by the number of lighted candles in the windows of Ukrainian homes on the last Saturday of November, he aroused deep sympathy and was part of the self-identification of not all Ukrainians. The death of the Heavenly Hundred did not become a tragedy for all. Unfortunately, we are partially paying for it now.
Common language? No comment here: everything seems obvious. The same with the national idea. Shared work or success stories? Some nations have united on this, but there are not many achievements in Ukraine that can unite us…
Before the war, we all had little in common across the country
And this was noticeable in many manifestations: mass emigration, distrust of all and sundry, the struggle of all against all, and constant social disputes over complex issues of the past. Even our national holidays have always been a bit plastic because almost none of them have united the whole country. The level of atomization of Ukrainian society was too high, and the Revolution of Dignity did not really fix it. The war changed everything radically. Once for all. Now we have a lot in common.
Now we have a lot in common. The first
The first is hatred of Putin, and of all of Russia. Those who cannot hate simply realize that Putin is the enemy and Russia is the enemy. That’s enough. The common enemy united the tribes into the people one or two thousand years ago. And now this unifying feature is reactivated. Even after the Revolution of Dignity, the annexation of Crimea, and the beginning of the war in Donbas, many of our citizens continued to be sympathetic to Russia. They could not do otherwise, because they were mentally drawn there by roots, relatives, and friends. In the end, many of them said that the Soviet Union had given us everything, so we can’t think otherwise. Now, this is almost gone.
Paradoxically, the fact is that those regions where loyalty to Russia was highest have now suffered the most. I don’t know whether to consider this fact fair retribution for being a “vatnik” [a politically tinged nickname for Russian patriots who support the Russian government], or a fundamental reason for Russia’s attack and destruction (if the Kremlin considered all Ukrainians Bandera members, they would probably assess their possible losses differently and be afraid to attack), but I agree with the fact that Putin should be given credit for the formation of the Ukrainian nation. I know Ukrainians with Russian roots who cut off internal ties with Russia after the annexation of Crimea and the start of the war in Donbas, but I also know those who did so only a month ago. There are no such fellow citizens among my acquaintances who still have a positive attitude towards Russia. It is obvious that if there are such people among us after the end of the war, they will be single marginals who will not be able to create any obstacles to the development of the Ukrainian nation.
Now we have a lot in common. The second
The second is common tragedies. It is not just about the whole Russian-Ukrainian war as a deep tragedy for the Ukrainian people. The attitude to the atrocities of the horde in Mariupol, Bucha, Vorzel, Irpen, Gostomel, and other cities united Ukrainians and the whole civilized world. Over time, the memory of these events will fade around the world, but Ukraine will always remember them.
Because just as there are no foreign children, there are no foreign children for the Ukrainians who died in these cities. Everyone who was killed there is our brother, sister, father, mother, son, daughter because each of us could be in their place without any reservations. Great tragedies generate great compassion, and this is a step toward humanity, love, and unity. We will definitely have a day of remembrance for the victims of Russian aggression. And even twenty years after the end of the war, we will remember with sadness the pictures of these horrors that will forever be etched in our memory. It will unite us for a long time.
Now we have a lot in common. The third
The third is a common language. Before the war, many Russian-speaking Ukrainians did not change their language because they did not see enough reasons for it or were simply lazy or afraid to sound too aesthetically pleasing.
Now they are switching to Ukrainian en masse. And not just those who serve in the army. Hatred of Putin and common tragedies have led to tectonic shifts in the minds of many. I personally know several Russian speakers who switched sharply to Ukrainian. Not out of fear, not out of pressure, but just made a conscious choice. Because some of them are simply bored when he or she continues to speak Russian. Of course, so far, they do not sound very aesthetically pleasing and correct. But in this regard, the attitude of the Americans, not the Russians, is closer to mine. When you make a mistake in speaking their language, the former will always superficially correct you, and the latter will support you on the grounds that you know at least one other language than them – and that deserves respect. Ukrainian will soon become a common language. I hope that she will not only talk but also think. This will unite and remove barriers to communication.
Now we have a lot in common. The fourth
The fourth is living together. Now in many cities and villages in the west of Ukraine without exaggeration history is created. Immigrants from the east and Kyiv came to almost every settlement. Neither those who came nor those who came wanted or planned this. But this fact alone creates a space for service and gratitude, and this is again the facet of humanity.
Moreover, now guests and hosts will have to spend some time together, and this certainly involves communication, grinding, understanding, eliminating mistrust, suspicion, and rejection of prejudice. Some have not left their region for most of their lives. Now he has done it – and was pleasantly surprised. I know an elderly woman from the capital who has never been to Lviv and has been living there for a month now. She has a pleasant culture shock. In fact, she is rediscovering the world through the prism of the unknown Lviv, which now unites people from different regions. And it transforms consciousness, allows you to feel part of something bigger, an element of the nation.
— Go to “Ukraine Gives World a Chance. Part 1” —
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