Pitch darkness. A precious moment of silence. People have stopped appreciating the quiet world. In Ukraine, it no longer exists. So if the quiet world doesn’t exist, what does? The war. One more bloody page in the history of our country. A page of suffering, deaths, losses, hesitation and oblivion. We are writing a book where the page numbers mark the number of destroyed enemy vehicles and where the list of authors equals the number of heroes who sacrificed themselves for us. The endless list of angels. They knew exactly who they were. They had principles and faith. And what about all of us? It is worth asking yourself every night one single question. What defines me?
Ukraine has always known what defines it. Naturally, things didn’t always go smoothly. It was deceived, closed to the world, convinced that it was nothing. It was as scared as a small child lost in the crowd of global policy giants. Ukraine is a conscious adult today. It stands firmly on its feet, harder than it has ever been. Ukraine is challenged by the darkness. Many things have to be done by touch. Sometimes it can feel the darkness seeping inside her, and at that moment, it sees fireflies. Its landmarks. The fundamental values of the EU, and common European values serve as flashlights for Ukraine. Human dignity. Freedom. Democracy. Equality. Rule of law. Human rights. Ukraine always chose them and it doesn’t matter what they were called. There are no more separate values. No individual pain. No separate players. No individual defeats. What exists then? Common values. Common pain. Teamwork. Common victory. Now Ukraine is pretty sure that’s what defines it. Values are in our DNA and to become an official part of the EU we must accept them and give a helping hand to all who face difficulties in finding acceptance. Fortunately, we see many hands. The lion’s share of which belongs to the EU countries.
Besides helping hands, Ukrainians must take control by themselves. When you look around, we are all different. We can speak different languages in Ukraine, and we can believe in different gods. We can grow up with different traditions, in different areas, influenced by different circumstances. However, we all know that ‘In varietate concordia’. We saw it in practice. In the darkest times, we have become a single entity and now we must be sure that it doesn’t fall apart when the bloodshed is over. Can people continue to work as one? Can they continue to see the same goal? The answer depends directly on the people. The equal work of people and the government. The government is responsible for introducing pro-European reforms at all levels, to make changes that will touch every corner of the country. People must be genuinely ready for these changes. They have to prepare for them under the sound of sirens, under fire, and with the influence of an enormous amount of stress, panic, and pain. It is a lengthy process of preparing, but none of us will give up. None of us will take a step back. Not a single glance back.
Even during the most difficult times, Ukrainians remain human. They are vulnerable because they are facing the realities of war. As we know, war is a danger and an opportunity. Threats are in devastation, the lack of elemental norms of life, the lack of life, in tears and screams. Opportunities are in the ability to build everything from scratch, the adoption of new laws, mentality change, the adoption of new norms and institutions, and getting rid of old ones, which did their work in the previous format of Ukraine but which have no place in modern European Ukraine, in Ukraine, where common values will be the foundation of development, where these values will remain fireflies forever. In Ukraine, people already know who they are, what they believe in, and where they want to move on. They have a lot of hard work ahead of them, but they have already done the most important thing – they know the answer to the biggest question.
So, before I’m done, let me ask something one more time: what defines you?
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