Past, Present and Future

Volodymyr Kish

For those of us heavily involved in Ukrainian affairs, the past few months have been particularly trying, physically and psychologically. Today’s technology has enabled a constant and sometimes overwhelming stream of information to flow in real time from the scene of the demonstrations in downtown Kyiv as well as other major cities in Ukraine. There are numerous live video streams, countless blogs, posts, pictures, maps, diagrams, statistics, polls, articles, news reports, interviews and both expert as well as amateur analyses that cause my Inbox and Facebook page to become overwhelmed with information. Keeping up with and making sense of it all means has meant too many days and nights of bleary eyes and too little sleep.

The psychological impact has also taken its toll as every Putin pronouncement, every Kuzio comment, and every Tymoshenko tirade gets my adrenaline going. My present life is defined by far more concern, stress and worry than I need or want in my life. And yet, I also realize that this is nothing compared to what my fellow Ukrainians have had to face on the Maidan for the past four months. So I persevere, digest all the information coming my way and offer my thoughts and commentary to all those that follow my writings and commentary either in Noviy Shliakh or on my Facebook page.

This past weekend I took a break from being Captain Ukraine, as my daughter likes to call me, and spent a few days visiting my son, and my grandson who has now reached the magical age of nine months and is starting to recognize and interact with his “Dido” more and more. For at least a little while, life became a lot simpler as I was able to find much joy and happiness in some very simple and at times silly play. It has been a real delight watching him grow and develop and it has brought back many wonderful memories of when our kids were that age. It also made me think of what his future will be like when grows up. Hopefully it will be one where there are no more Putins, or Al Quedas or North Koreas to give him sleepless nights. To add to that, I would also like him to live long enough to see a greener and much more ecologically friendly world than what we have today.

On my return trip Sunday afternoon I took a detour and stopped in at the Ivan Franko Home for Ukrainian seniors in Mississauga where, in my capacity as Chair of the Donations Committee for the Ukrainian Credit Union, it was my privilege to present the home with a sizable cheque for their building fund. Our credit union’s motto is “Building Community”, and it was a particular delight talking with some of the residents at the home since they represent the generation that was responsible for building the strong Ukrainian community that we currently have in Canada. It was they who over the past sixty or seventy years built our churches, our halls and our cultural centres. It was they who gave birth to the numerous cultural and political organizations that we have. It was they who organized the countless choirs, dance groups, scout troops and musical ensembles. It was they who created the various charitable foundations, social services organizations, Ukrainian schools and chairs of Ukrainian Studies at Canadian Universities. The accomplishments of those generations of Ukrainian immigrants are truly amazing, considering that they came to this country with literally nothing but their hopes and dreams. Their hard work and effort in the past is what has enabled us today to have one of the strongest and best organized ethnic communities in Canada today.

It was interesting how the past, the present and the future all intersected in my life these past few days. It also brought home the lesson that no matter how dire current circumstances may seem in Ukraine today, there will be tomorrow and a long future beyond that. Ukraine has faced many a foe in its long history as malignant and evil as Putin is today. Our Ukrainian ancestors suffered grievously, but they survived. We are a resilient and strong people and we will survive this current crisis as well.

I would also like to think that the world is a different place today than when the Mongols first invaded the steppes, or when at various times the Tatars, Poles, the Russians or the Austrians carved up our lands with impunity, when Ukrainians had no friends or allies to call upon. To be sure political and military structures such as the UN, the EU, or NATO are still nowhere near as effective as they could be in ensuring peace, justice and human rights in this imperfect world as ours. And yet, as is becoming obvious to Putin and the Russians, there are now at least some significant consequences to imperialistic aggression and Ukraine is no longer alone in fending off the Russian bear. In the longer timeline of history there has been inexorable progress in making this world a more just and less dangerous place to live in, and that gives me hope that in the not too distant future, for Ukraine too, its day in the sun will come.