Still Independent

A year ago thery hit the 30-year mark, milestone, though during COVID celebrations were muted.. Six months ago it looked like there would be no 31st anniversary.

Today is Independence Day in a still independent Ukraine. For six months the country has resisted a Russian invasion at a horrible cost in death and destruction. Thousands have been kkilled, many tens of thousands displaced. Against all odds and logic Ukraine, at least most of it, remains free.

What drives a people to stand up to the theoretically overwhelming military force that Russia can muster? Wouldn’t it have been better to acquiesce? Is independence worth it?

For that matter, what drives Vladimir Putin? How much more power does an absolute dictator really need? And how did a supposedly smart person so misjudge the desire of the Ukrainian people to remain free?

Scientists have possibly not even looked for it, but I suspect freedom is genetic, hard-wired into our DNA. It is part of being human, even if we do not always express it properly. So much of what we do as individuals stems from our personal concepts of “freedom” – including pretty much all of our mistakes.

Freedom means different things to different people, and I am sure there is a huge difference in how Canadians (and Americans) and Ukrainians understand the word. It is an abstract concept when you are debating it. It become much more concrete when the tanks cross the border and the shelling starts.

The Ukrainian people know what it is like to not have freedom, to not be an independent nation. They remember being part of the Soviet Union. It has only been 31 years since they were last under Russian rule. They don’t want to return to the bad old days.

So today, on Ukraine’s Independence Day, let us applaud the brave people of Ukraine for whom freedom is much more than just an abstract concept. There are ways you can show concrete support as well, with many agencies offering humanitarian aid to those affected by the conflict. Why not make a donation today, to celebrate that you live in a free and independent nation?

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