My daughter-in-law, Rita, is of Polish decent and she is a member of the Polish community here in Victoria. Recently she organized a benefit for the Ukraine held in Victoria’s Polish hall. In cooperation with Victoria’s Ukrainian community she put together a very moving program celebrating the historical kinship of the Ukraine and Poland. At this event Ukrainian and Polish dancers and singers performed in beautiful traditional costumes.
Speakers spoke of the importance of the support of the two counties and local communities for each other. Musicians of both cultures performed traditional pieces as did singers, both individual performers and coral groups. Before one number by the Ukrainian choral group their leader spoke of the importance of singing and dancing during this trying time. I don’t have a transcript of the actual words she said but the gist of the message was that although Putin was trying to wipe out the voice of Ukrainian people they would not be silent. They would continue to sing their songs and dance their dances in communities all over the world. The spirit of the Ukrainian people would not be silenced and because of this their culture would never be erased.
As I witnessed this extraordinary event it occurred to me that events like this have been are continuing to take place all over the world. This gave me hope that, in spite of the discouraging events occurring in parts of the world there is evidence that we, the people of the world, are more than our worst behaviours; that we are capable of virtuous acts.
Ironically, Putin’s invasion of the Ukraine could conceivably be a significant impetus for bringing people of the world together. As the benefit in Victoria demonstrated, when we face a common threat we tend to rally our resources to oppose it. We do this in spite of our differences because our values such as the freedom to vote for the government of our choice are threatened. Putin’s actions demonstrate a desire for dictatorial domination over other cultures and countries. Life under his leadership is one of fear and top-down control. His agenda speaks of what he imagines the glory of Russia to have been in the past. He seeks to reestablish this misremembered illustrious past. Judging from his recent actions he is determined to reach his objectives by any means necessary. Putin’s shameful behaviour in pursuit of this goal has made it clear that the rest of the world cannot ignore his mania. It is obvious that we must resist this dictatorial mindset.
The unity of previously self-centred national interests brought about by Putin’s threat to decency and freedom just could be the ultimate legacy of his obsessive dreams of restoring a glory that never was. Although the horrors taking place in the Ukraine can never be justified there is some reason to hope that they will not be in vain. If we are brought together in an international initiative determined to resist this kind of tyranny and to preserve our most important freedoms, the atrocities being visited on the Ukrainian people will not have been for nothing.
In terms of mindsets, Putin’s aggression and patriotic zealotry are typical of the Cynical/Independent Mindset while the coming together to stand up for freedom and global unity shown in the cooperative friendship between the Polish and Ukrainian people is indicative of the Hopeful/Interdependent Mindset.
I maintain a website for ZGODA: The Polish Friendship Society of Vancouver, BC. I just received a request to add an item to their Events section. It represents another case of the unity being forged in the wake of Putin’s aggression.