Ukrainian Eyes: Euromaidan teaches Europe a lesson

Nov 29th, 2013 | By | Category: Civic Actions, Civil Society, Editor's Choice, Ukraine

Two days ago I eye witnessed Euromaidan at the Shevshenko Square at Lviv. I followed Euromaidan on sociale media in the Netherlands. Now I felt privileged to really sense it at street level. Cars passing, honking all the time. Thousands of young people – most students I guessed – waving Ukrainian and European flags, dancing on rock music and calling slogans . I understood only a couple of them. One you couldn’t miss: Revolution! It was vibrant, sparkling, and above all, full of hope. If I still had any doubt, it was blown away. This can’t be stopped. Not now, not tomorrow, not after November 29.

At the same time I felt like a stranger among my fellow Europeans. I couldn’t understand a word! (Or only some words) Indeed, in terms of language Ukrainian is still a very strange country for me. For that reason I enjoyed very much the conversation we had yesterday evening with a bunch of young colleague philosophers in one of the many nice cafes of Lviv. The subject of our dialogue – sometimes in German, then in English but most of the time in Ukraine, translated by our friend Orysya – was off course about politics and Euromaidan.

There were two things that struck me. The first is the ‘fear to hope’. Most of the students were in their teens, or still younger when the Orange Revolution toke place. But the disappointment of 2004 is still very vivid – even when you didn’t actually were a part of it. But the fear to hope has a much deeper history. It is part of the (post) sovjet soul. As my friend Frans explained: ‘The totalitarian experience destroys the virtues of hope, faith and love for generations.’ It remembers me of something I read in Tzevan Todorov and Primo Levi. Prohibiting yourself to hope is a psychological mechanism of survival under a terroristic or totalitarian regime.
Now the fear to hope clashes with the new reality of ‘Ukrainian = Europe’, which makes hope so real, on the threshold so the speak. This new hope is easily connected with the real possibility to be disappointed again. In that case it’s saver to be sceptic or even not to act, convincing yourself that nothing can or will change. My hope is that Euromaidan installs a sparkle of trust that makes it possible to overcome this ‘fear to hope’.

The other thing is this remarkable ‘fact’ that Ukraine is now – on November 29 – the most European country of Europe. Let’s face it. In the eyes of the rest of the European Union the Ukrainians must be nuts. Who in the Netherlands, Spain, France Greece or Great Britten would today vote to be part of the European Union? The Ukrainians are a mirror for us. They remember all those easy going Eurosceptics that Europe is a gift, that never should be taken as self evident. That is worth loving, fighting and dying for. Ukrainian today is the epicenter of Europe, it is the most European country of Europe. Ukrainians are Europeans.


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