Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What Ukraine is Teaching the West About Itself

As summarized over at NRO, George Weigel has brought up the deeper importance about what we have seen in the last year in
Ukraine. Many, your humble blogg'r included, have spent a lot of time focused on the Tactical and Operational play-by-play, with a stab at the Strategic now and then.

Weigel goes deeper and makes the point that what is going on is so much more important and meaningful than what we are being shown or are appreciating.

You need to read it all, but here are a few pull quotes to ponder;
The first aspect of the Maidan’s providential character has been the subject of our reflections all day. The religious communities of Ukraine — Orthodox, Roman and Greek Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim — have cooperated as never before over the past year. And they have done so in the face of severe Russian aggression in various forms: political aggression, military aggression, and even ecclesiastical aggression. In the process, a baseline, a new foundation, has been set for ecumenical and interreligious cooperation in building a vibrant civil society for the free, prosperous, aDemocracy and the free economy are not machines that can run by themselves and virtuous Ukraine of the future.

The second providential aspect of the Maidan “revolution of dignity” points outward, toward the West. For this revolution of conscience — which now coincides with the 25th anniversary of the Revolution of 1989 and the collapse of European Communism — teaches five lessons the West badly needs to relearn about its own civic and political project, and the relationship of religious conviction and moral truth to that project.
Yes, religion matters. Especially when times are rough - it matters a lot.

He goes on to flesh our his five points, but here they are;
- Freedom is never free.
- Democracy and the free economy are not machines that can run by themselves.
- Historical and moral clarity count.
- Reality-contact is essential for the future of freedom.
- The ecumenical movement within the Christian churches must be recalibrated for the 21st century.
He exactly points out one observation many have made - many of the same people who at the end of the Cold War were Soviet apologists and on the wrong side of history - are now there again.
The vulnerability of the West to Russian propaganda today is a direct result of the post–Cold War failure to culturally delegitimize — to shame and shun until they had acknowledged their errors — those who, for reasons of ideological intoxication or stupidity or both, had misrepresented the realities of Communism in political life, in the universities, in the press, and in the religious communities. Unrepentant and unchastened (indeed, in the case of academics such as Stephen Cohen, boldly defiant), many of the purveyors of falsehood then are the purveyors of falsehood now. Those who made excuses for Soviet aggression then make parallel (and in some instances, identical) excuses for Russian aggression now.
Even in the former Soviet Union - a place run by the most anti-Christian philosophy outside the bloody edges of Islamdom, the Church didn't just survive - it is still a player.
In my recent interview with Major-Archbishop Sviastoslav Shevchuk of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, the archbishop had a message for the West: “This is not only about us; this is about you.” That is exactly right. The Maidan is about us, about the West: It has been a profound reminder of the truths on which Western democracy rests. Ukraine is not a country far away, populated by a people of whom we know very little. Ukraine’s quest for a free society has become a mirror in which the West, looking at the courage embodied in the Maidan revolution of conscience, can measure its own civic, political, and moral and cultural health.

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