Thomas Wictor

Awed and humbled

Awed and humbled

We in the United States can easily lose perspective and forget that compared to most of the world, we have no problems.

Watch as unarmed Ukrainian protestors are shot down by police and military snipers. But they don’t give up. It’s heartbreaking, ghastly footage.

Unbelievable. Could you do that? I couldn’t. And they did it because of corruption and lack of freedom, not because they were being put in death camps. They died so that others could have better lives.

“The shooting stopped when the security chiefs realized the game was over — not because they didn’t have enough Kalashnikovs, but because they proved ineffective: For one person killed, many more came out.”

I’m awed and humbled. For whatever reason this isn’t getting as much press as the “Arab Spring,” which resulted in even worse governments taking the place of those that were overthrown. The Ukrainians fought expressly to be free from terrible governance, not to replace secular dictatorships with religious ones.

Remember the Occupy Movement? How many protestors were killed by police snipers? Also, what has Occupy accomplished in the last three years? The Ukrainians took only three months to overthrow the swinish Viktor F. Yanukovych, whose ridiculous palace represents exactly the sort of man he is.

I always wondered why people looted the palaces of their tyrants, destroyed the casinos, and smashed the greenhouses. All that wealth and development could’ve helped the population after the overthrow. In Ukraine the opposition put armed guards in place to prevent that from happening. It appears that the people trying to “make the Ukraine a normal country,” as they said, are miles ahead of others in terms of reducing the chaos of this transition.

The big question is what will Russia do? Ukraine is made up of the Russian-speaking east and the Ukrainian-speaking west. The easterners want to be allied with Russia—as Yanukovych was—while the west looks to Europe. Russia calls this a coup; if Putin decides to intervene militarily, nobody will stop him.

Europe is completely unable to fight a conventional war on any level. NATO lacks the weapons, equipment, and the political will. The US won’t protect Ukraine from Putin’s tanks; we faced the same Devil’s Alternative with Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968. The only hope is either that the new government can satisfy all sides, or that the nation can be peacefully divided.

When Pakistan split off from India in 1947, over a million people were killed in sectarian fighting as Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs either voluntarily moved or were driven out. The same thing could happen in Ukraine. In the 2008 Russia-Georgia War, Russia and the separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia defeated Georgia in five days. If the eastern Ukrainians declare their independence, and Kiev sends in troops to keep the country unified, Russia will almost certainly invade.

Even after the new government is elected in May, Ukraine’s problems will still exist. The nation is nearly broke, crippled by systemic corruption and saddled with insane regulations that prevent businesses from creating the capital that all economies need to flourish.

Still, people went up against merciless killers simply because they wanted to be free. They meant it; they weren’t wealthy, posturing clowns with eight hundred thousand conflicting agendas.

What they did was call on centuries of bravery, and it worked. So the next time you think everything’s awful and we’re doomed, the next time you think you really have it bad, stop and slap yourself in the face.

Do it in the name of these people.