The East Is Orange

The place is Ukraine. Once upon a time, Vikings, Slavs and the Volga created a feisty young trading empire called Kyivan Rus. It traded with Constantinople, became rather abruptly Christian, and left behind legends of noble knights who were half gods — the bogatyrs. Further legends followed: the Tatars, the Cossacks. But the stories grew sadder as Ukraine fell into the power of its daughter, Russia: peasant revolts, Cossack revolts, the Crimean War, the millions who died in the Holodomor, the many who died in WWII. Even when Ukraine became free again in the aftermath, her people have still been oppressed: by corrupt government, unleashed Mafiosos, and arrogant business ‘oligarchs’.

But “Ukraine is not dead yet,” warns her national anthem, “nor her glory, nor her freedom.” The people of Ukraine are out in the streets — over a million of them in Kyiv alone! They wear orange, and they support an honest politician (Yushchenko) over a Mafioso who’s served hard time in prison for robbery and assault (Yanukovich). It is cold; it snows hard; many sleep in shifts in tents, while others are crowded into apartments of friends they’ve just met. But they are happy, and donations ensure there’s more than enough food and warm clothing for everyone. The babushkas are making sure of it.

For this is not a revolution of the young, but of everyone, from little old ladies and mountain men with huge bristling Santa-beards to sober middleaged workers and businesspeople to the students and military and police. “It’s time,” they say. They sing, “Together we are many; we cannot be defeated.” They are no longer on their knees, and they don’t want to go back. Ever.

There are other people watching. In tortured Belarus, the resistance rallies and wears orange. In other places, opposition parties visit Kyiv for inspiration or good ideas. In Georgia and Estonia and Poland and Hungary, they urge them on or come to Kyiv to help.

And somewhere out there, the Christian saints and the pagan bogatyri stand together, watching their people, seeing them stand up, strong and brave and free.


1 Comment

Filed under Politics

One response to “The East Is Orange

  1. Anonymous

    i loved your description of St. Al’s in michigan. I used to go there. Father Jim sounds like he is still causing a rukus. Your guide, is it a guy?? And does (did) he work in the church office. I used to know his name, but i can’t think of it. thanks

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