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The Past, Future and Present of Movement(s)

December 11, 2013


I must admit that it has taken me these three long weeks to write and attempt to process everything that is going on in Ukraine right now. I find myself torn between these places that I am connected to – where I currently live, where I grew up, where I was born, where my roots lie. Why am I devoting more time to one or the other, or neglecting them altogether while simultaneously neglecting everything that needs to be done, revisited, reviewed, researched and packed away?

Some things – both, news and material objects need to be tossed, as you wade through perspectives and opinions like much like being in murky, polluted water, unsure of what’s to come. You find yourself attempting to reason with the uninformed and ignorant, but oftentimes it is useless. The shark has already found its prey and I have drowned in books, photographs and boxes.

Regardless, we must, truly take all into consideration. I am still learning to take opinions I vehemently disagree with when they come from people I respect, though they are often few and far between. The media (read: propaganda trash) on the other hand,  this is what we have constant access to, every time we log into Twitter  or Google “Ukraine” or “euromaidan” or find ourselves in front of the TV at home or on Facebook mindlessly browsing our news feed (unless of course we are in Eritrea, North Korea or Syria). This “News” is something to approach with caution, especially when it spreads as quickly as tear gas or comes at you when you’re not expecting, like batons from the Berkut. Do you know who you are reading and if they are owned by an oligarch?

I skim the news, repost snippets of information on Twitter, some of which I hope to return to and reread with more diligence, but in reality I’m too far in and there is now only more of the future and not as much of the past to absorb as we move forward each day. Bombarded with live updates, photos, endless shortlinks to articles on media networks and independent publications you have never even heard of, slogans overlaid on yellow and blue flags on Instagram, cartoon caricatures of presidents and other world leaders, memes – it’s impossible to revisit it all. Maybe one day… If the cloud still exists in 10 years storing all my Twitter posts.

But what about history? What about learning from the past, from historical patterns, shifts, changes, and attempting to understand where we and our countries, communities and families come from? That might be more relevant than ever. We often can’t help being young and naïve  (or old and stubborn for that matter) and not thinking about history… I know I have found myself in situations not having entirely considered the changes I am fighting for and what they mean to my past, future and present, but supporting them nonetheless.

I have learned something about my history from viewpoints I don’t always understand or agree with. It has allowed me to form a perspective that grasps more than just what is happening on the ground in Kyiv and in Lviv and throughout Ukraine. It has forced me to think about change and spatial relations – those happening as I write in Maidan, but also globally. Sometimes you need to stop and really think about the things that people tell you (or reread your What’s App or iMessage conversations). Whether 22 days or 22 years, we have come a long way and in retrospect, years or days, or both may be nothing in the evolution of social, political and economic change in Ukraine.

I wish I could be there and support my country of birth that I so long to get back to. To stand with all those people, young and old that have gone out in the freezing temperatures in efforts to create a better Ukraine. It’s about a fight for change. Not just against or for something that can ultimately bring uncertainty but to show that Ukraine is a country of strength, courage, patriotism and love. Not war, corruption and greed.

It is a country filled with beautiful, intelligent, creative people and with many that have suffered and continue to – young and old. These people have the potential to change the fate of the country and make it a place they feel proud to live in.

It is not about Ukraine not being a part of Russia or about Ukraine is Europe or other slogans that have come out of this movement; it is about Ukraine and the right to independence, freedom and peace and the possibility of living better lives in a better environment. It is a country, like many, that is divided and repressed by those who want control and power. It is pulled and pushed by the geopolitical and economic forces that have been created and destroyed and reworked for hundreds of years. It has been through a lot, and it’s not perfect and it never will be – no one and no country is.

I left this country when I didn’t understand it, and I have only really known from afar. It has been blurred by the mix of post USSR immigrant communities living in California, and the impressions from those that left it behind, but I am determined to get to know it better, to be there for my family, my friends, my country and for myself. I have only begun to scrape the surface of my own history in Ukraine, let alone the history of the causes that be to bring hundreds of thousands to the streets, but I know I will get there, and be there when I’m needed most.

I have found myself questioning the choices that I have made at the onset of this movement, but only because they may be met with confusion and a lack of understanding. I know, however, that when I let go and trust my reasoning and judgment, Ukraine is the place I need to be. I knew this when I was there in October and I know it now. And so, I will be there in 2014 to finish old stories and begin new ones.

слава Україні!

the photo above is my grandmother and my great grandmother in Ukraine circa the 1940s.

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