There is of course nothing new in such rhetoric. Emigration has been a permanent topic in media since Ukraine gained its independence. There were few periods when it looked like things are going well here and rising wave of intentions to leave declined. But last year or two convinced even most stubborn optimists that there is no room for improvement in upcoming years or maybe even decades.
As Korrespondent points out, according to recent study of the Institute of Sociology, the number of people who hope that their lives will change for better in a year fell from 40.2 percent in 2005 to 14.9 percent in 2012. At the same time, 51.3 percent of interviewed people don’t see possibilities of changing their lives for better in upcoming year, making this figure the highest one for the last decade.
Such a shift resulted in another huge change in people’s mind. A survey conducted by the recruiting company Forsage revealed that 54 percent of about 2,000 middle and top managers interviewed are ready to move abroad. Back in 2006, there were only 20-30 percent willing to find a better life outside Ukraine.
Unlike seven or 10 years ago, we don’t hear too much condemnation of those who leave or planning to leave today. Nowadays it’s more about feeling envy. However discussion with my friends about Korrespondent’s front page has revealed that Ukrainian society still dubious about this issue. Even though my friends obviously are not representative of the whole nation, most arguments against leaving are the same. Most of which are myths and has little to do with reality.
Myth #1: “Our grandparents lived here, that’s why we must live here as well.”
Tell this story to U.S. President Barack Obama to make him laugh. Throughout centuries people were migrating from one area to another. What makes someone think it should be changed?
Myth #2: “It’s our land and we need to stick to it.”
Well, I don’t have any land here. And many Ukrainians don’t. Moreover, I know for a fact that one has to pay for it if he/she wants to get it. So is this land really ours? I also would probably agree if we still hunted and grew food by ourselves. But it’s not the case anymore.
Myth # 3: “You have to stay here and change Ukraine for better.”
So they offer me, as they put it, short-term pain for long-term gain? But, hey, is 20 years of independence a short-term? I don’t think so. The sad truth is that there is no short-term pain anymore since it’s in fact become a long-term.
Myth #4: “You’re responsible for what is going on in Ukraine and all Ukrainians have a joint responsibility.”
Well, do they really think I’m responsible just as much as President Viktor Yanukovych does? Do they really think that a person who works in two jobs to make his/her ends meet and helping poor people does?
Myth #5: “You’re leaving, that’s why you are not a patriot.”
What an odd way to distinguish patriots. Would you call all members of the parliament, the president and all the public service employees patriots?
In conclusion, not all people are ready to leave. Not all are willing to stay. The bottom line here is that every person has a right and should decide by its own whether to stay or leave. It’s their choice and their lives. But to avoid making wrong decisions we have to cross the line between facts and believes. It will not guarantee you pick the best option, but will make your chances better.
Andriy Kravets is a freelance journalist in Kyiv.