National Independence Day is important every year. It is especially important when a delusional psychopath is trying to destroy not only your independence but take away your life simply for being yourself.
Today is not about Russia nor its backward and barbaric invasion of Ukraine. Today, and every other day, must be about us – about who we Ukrainians are as a people. About what we represent. For if we do not know it ourselves, maintaining the freedoms and independence we celebrate becomes increasingly difficult.
For 31 years to this day, Ukraine has been an independent country. Having existed for over a thousand years, due to its geopolitical location, Ukrainian culture, language, and national identity have been continually suffocated and repressed by its neighbouring countries.
Our geographics is not going to change any time soon – but nor are we. We will win this horrible war, and the Ukrainian story will slowly fade from the screens and the hearts of people throughout the world, who will be dealing with their own issues.
Today we have a unique opportunity to define and share our Ukrainian national identity and values in a way that everyone finally understands – showing the world what Ukraine is and who Ukrainians are. No one will ever have the audacity to doubt our freedom, independence, and strength.
So, who are Ukrainians? And what is so special and distinct about being Ukrainian? Let me supply my own, at times tongue-in-cheek, summary:
- The Ukrainian does not think he is better or superior to any other person based on a national or ethnic reason
- The Ukrainian is a curious and educated person. She tries to analyse information from different sources before forming an opinion
- The Ukrainian loves having an opinion and spreading it wherever possible. Nevertheless, he is not obsessed with it and is open to counterarguments
- The eternal striving for freedom and justice is a defining trait of a Ukrainian character. As soon as she feels her freedoms are jeopardised, she gets defensive, and sometimes irrational in trying to get those back. The concept of treason (#zrada) is big in Ukrainian society and oftentimes plays against Ukrainians
- The Ukrainian has his values and principles but is equally adjustable and opportunistic, representing a quintessential Capitalist. He can survive and do well for himself anywhere
- The Ukrainian is an entrepreneurial creature who will always find a way to profit and make a living. Calvinism, which says that a person, chosen by God, is always well-off and happy, is much more applicable to the Ukrainian nature than a suffering glorifying Orthodox Christianity
- The Ukrainian loves his culture, traditions, and ways, but in no way is obsessed with those. The pride and love for his culture are important to him and stays rooted deep in his heart. It does not have to be discussed, shared, or promoted. It is simply there
- “The more languages you know, the more times you are a human being” – Thomas Masaryk said once, – and your humble author was lucky enough to hear this phrase cited in her school in Odessa. Even if no Ukrainian has ever heard this phrase, she understands that the knowledge of a foreign language only adds to the personality of its speaker. A Ukrainian is eager to learn foreign languages and meet people from various cultures and backgrounds. Opposite to what the haters are saying, Ukrainian knows and loves Russian language, as any other language, if not more, as for her it is an additional tool to learn new things, read foreign literature and meet interesting people, which exist even in the most surreal and oppressed societies
- As a representative of the state with a huge agricultural tradition, the Ukrainian is closely connected to nature. Ukrainian or their family is oftentimes coming from a countryside. Thus, even if found in urban societies, a Ukrainian is striving to surround himself with plants and parks, as well as pick vacations based on the proximity to nature
- The Ukrainian is a very patient and diplomatic creature. She will strive to find dialogue and peaceful resolution to any dispute. Even when aggressively provoked a Ukrainian will look for the ways to pacify the attacker and go on with her life with minimal damage. However, a Ukrainian is not an idiot and realises some people derive pleasure and meaning by pestering others. So, while being extremely patient Ukrainian is also making sure she is fully prepared to resolve the dispute by force if there is no alternative. Once triggered, she will combine the forces of Heaven and Hell to destroy the attacker to the extent which allows a Ukrainian to peacefully go on with her life
- The Ukrainian possesses a critical mind and loves questioning things. Even if an issue appears black and white, a Ukrainian will get out of his ways to question it from all possible angles
- The Ukrainian loves and supports her leadership with any means available, but only as long as this leadership is conducive to the interests of a Ukrainian, or, at least, as long as a Ukrainian thinks so. Once there is a shade of doubt, Ukrainian will be the first to fight her leadership
- There is nothing a Ukrainian enjoys more than finding faults among his own people, as he thinks his Ukrainian ways are superior to his co-patriots’ Ukrainian ways. An insatiable desire to criticise and fight his own kind is a rare trait which usually brings a Ukrainian more fuckups than benefits
- As much as Ukrainian loves finding faults with everyone else, her favourite hobby is finding her own shortcomings. Ukrainian loves self-doubt and self-critique. It must be noted, however, that the right for critique is not easily transferable. Like a fragile vase, a Ukrainian must be handled with care, critiqued in small doses, mixed with praise
- The Ukrainian has a strong appreciation for the unmatched travel and education opportunities opening in front of people these days. Ukrainian will look for any occasion to study abroad or travel
- Just like famous Ukrainian philosopher Skovoroda wrote in the 18th century, a Ukrainian is an extremely hard-working creature. Being an opportunistic one as well, a Ukrainian is keen to define herself through work when doing a fancy white-collar job or to disassociate herself completely if picking strawberries in Poland
- The Ukrainian is a very raw and straightforward creature. He usually says exactly what he thinks, for better or worse. British ability to sweet talk someone while having a dagger behind their back is a skill Ukrainian has an immense difficulty mastering. Ukrainian straightforwardness is so outspoken it can sometimes lead to serious frictions and even harm the Ukrainian romantic endeavours
- Growing up in the geographic reality of neighbours continuously trying to screw you up while complaining about their grim lives, most of which are much easier and wealthier than an average Ukrainians’, she, nevertheless, managed to cultivate a surprisingly cheerful personality. It appears that a Ukrainian would rather maintain a joyful smile while she prepares and serves a gluten, caffeine, and sugar free caramel macchiato carrying a boulder up the hill, than decides to complain or show her discontent
- A previous point does not, however, spread on the Ukrainian’s immediate surrounding, be it his family or his significant other. Even if everything is relatively ok, a Ukrainian will strive to make another person feel better by painting his own life in grim colours
Few people understand how to interpret the previous 2 traits. Some people say that a Ukrainian is simply following an old Chinese military strategy: “Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.”
- The Ukrainian is vivacious and energetic. She is always looking for ways to express her personality and make people around her happy and entertained
- Historically, a Ukrainian is a reasonably selfish and individualistic creature. The Communist fairy tales of a common good and individual deprivations for the sake of a greater goal have never appealed to a Ukrainian and were always met with an utmost disgust. Despaired Soviet leadership had to resort to numerous “collectivisation” campaigns and genocides to stifle Ukrainian individualism and independent spirit
- The Ukrainian shares an unshakable and oftentimes naïve belief in the good of a human nature. A Ukrainian will be always looking for good qualities in others, while downplaying the red flags or dark sides. Ukrainian is a passionate creature who is programmed to spread love and understanding, which some people find excessive and annoying. It must be noted, however, that if a Ukrainian is convinced in the inappropriateness of intentions and a dark nature of another person, there is virtually no way for this person to come back into the life of a Ukrainian, even if this is a family member or a person potentially conducive to the Ukrainian’s well-being
- Ukrainians can be spiritual or religious but only to a limited degree. Excessive spirituality and mysticism usually annoy Ukrainian and makes him question the mental abilities and adequacy of the source
- The Ukrainian is ambitious and humble at the same time. She is striving for a better life for herself and her loved ones, but she is also mindful of her actions and impact on others. She is not big into fanatism or fetishes if those are generally harmful to herself or others
- The Ukrainian is a family person. He is very open-minded about what other people like or do, but he deeply values the sacred bonds of a family and dedicates most of what he is doing to his parents, partner, or children. It is, first and foremost, – a family, – that represents a core of Ukrainian worldview
- The Ukrainian always has hobbies or interests. Whether it is chess, fishing, diving, horse riding or gardening, Ukrainian values her hobbies as an expression of her freedom. Whenever presented with a Ukrainian, a person should take her hobbies seriously and either join her in those endeavours or leave her in peace to enjoy them
- The Ukrainian is not into excessive modesty. He is good at finding his faults, but he is a real pro at picking his strengths. If a given Ukrainian happens to be smart, easy on the eye and good at cooking, he will make sure everyone is aware of these goods.
- While always having an opinion, the Ukrainian is not huge into judging. She sees the pros and cons in different ways. When comparing the Scandinavian equality, American competitiveness and Russian corruption, a Ukrainian can see positive things in all three, as well as manage to benefit from any of those
- The Ukrainian is aware of the world and knows celebrities but is not overly curious in the details of other people’s lives. If someone has no interest in or connection to a Ukrainian, he will have minimal interest in such a subject. It must be noted, however, that if for any reason a Ukrainian holds a strong interest in a person or a topic, he will put efforts into meeting this person, learning the topic, and establishing the connection. This does not spread on dead people, luckily, but even if someone is very unreachable, a Ukrainian would still try to meet him, whether it involves catching Elon Musk at a tech conference, grabbing Barack Obama for a quick chat in Davos or interviewing Britney Spears for an article about NFTs
- The Ukrainian never takes him/herself too seriously. Sense of humour, irony and self-deprecation are essential and defining traits of Ukrainian national character. Even under bombs or in a prison camp Ukrainian will look for something funny to lighten up the surrounding and strengthen her spirit. The phenomenon of Ukrainian humour will, most probably, be researched in various PhD dissertations, to bio hack humanity into eternal happiness and bliss. Her skill to laugh in the face of danger will also, most likely, be put into practice at the first exoplanetary exploration missions or the PTSD cure.
- The Ukrainians are gregarious creatures who love talking and sometimes do it very well if paid to do so. While a Ukrainian appreciates a good chat, ultimately it is only actions that matter to a Ukrainian. A Ukrainian is not likely to talk about something for a prolonged period if it is not what he can deliver. Equally, a Ukrainian has a limited attention span to promises and good chat if it is not supported by actions
It must be said that very passing year of our existence, Ukrainians will likely be cultivating new and exciting traits they can share with the world, and, hopefully, make it a better place.
I cannot wait to discover what Ukrainians will show to the world in 10, 20 or a hundred years from now. What is certain is that Ukrainians have always been around, and they always will be, for their love for life and creation is much stronger than anyone’s desire for death and destruction.
In Ukraine, every day is an Independence Day!
The views expressed in this article are the author’s and not necessarily those of the Kyiv Post.
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