Sunday, July 1, 2018

At A Bend in the River




Morrie and I took a ten day River boat cruise from Kiev to Odessa in Ukraine in May, because we hadn’t seen that part of the world and it sounded interesting.  Interesting is quite an understatement.  We went na├»ve about Ukraine and I came back a changed person.

Ukraine has been disrupted by four waves of Evil in the last century and is facing another by Putin and the Russians again today.  The Jewish communities have been especially devastated, but all Ukrainians have suffered along side each other

In the 1920’s it was the Tsars Pogroms
In the 1930’s it was Stalin
In the 1940’s it was Nazi Germany
Then till 1989 it was the USSR
They have had two uprisings against corruption, 2004 & 2014
They are still fighting for their freedom.

How does one comprehend such horror, terror and grief?   The submersion in that history was life changing.   

I am impressed and moved by how Ukrainians are coming back again.  The thread I kept hearing that unites and motivates them is literacy.  They have a long history of making sure all citizens can read and write, going back thousands of years.  Each wave of Evil tried to stamp that out, because an informed citizenry is hard to fool/rule.  The Nazi’s came the closest, reducing literacy by 70%.  They failed also.  Literacy in the Ukraine is near 100%. 

It seems like a small victory, but captures for me the determination and heroic fight up from the ashes and triumph over four waves of Evil. 

It makes all the screeching and screaming here seem ludicrous.  The protests remind of a scene from the movie Frankenstein, all that is missing are the pitchforks.  The outstanding thing about the Monster is that he was innocent of harming anyone until he was attacked.

At a bend in that river, my perspective changed.