If you live under a rock (or in the United States), you probably haven’t realized there is essentially a revolution happening in Ukraine. To my understanding, it started out being about the Ukrainian people wanting to join the EU, and their government refusing. It’s since escalated. There have been peaceful protests. There have been government sanctioned violent acts on peaceful protesters. At least one journalist has been killed. People have been tortured. There are even rioters, paid by the government, to act as protesters and to discourage more people from joining in the protests.
The situation with Ukraine bothers me particularly because the U.S. has a history of selectively helping countries with social justice issues – ie. we tend to help when we stand to gain something from doing so. I feel like perhaps there ought to be a better marker than our own potential profit for determining whether or not we send aid like, perhaps, that civilians who have tried and are trying to peacefully protest are being hurt by their own government. Until we come up with a better marker than profit, I would like to submit that idea. If governments are violently antagonizing their civilians, perhaps we should do something about it. If civilians are fighting for democracy, are trying to peacefully fight for democracy…again, perhaps we should do something about that.
I recognize that the U.S. is already up to its proverbial eyeballs in debt, and that there are plenty of problems here. I also know that I’ve on more than one occasion quoted the whole “Rome ought to sweep its own front porch” idiom, but now I would like to say that the situation always seems far more complicated than that. If we, the US, behave as though we believe we’re the champion of democracy and social justice, perhaps we should act like it. Perhaps we should help democratic initiatives in places that won’t give us oil or arms or financial gain. Perhaps, at least, our media could discuss the conflict and what’s really happening and at least make our people a little more aware of the world outside of our own bubble.
I kind of feel like the debt ship has sailed, you know? It’s more or less going to be enormous. Even without the government, though, even if they weren’t sending bundles of aid, we’ve got all kinds of nonprofits and humanitarian initiatives that could help. But the media has been practically silent about a revolution that’s been happening for months now, and it doesn’t seem like there’s even nonprofit aid involvement.
When there was a revolution for democracy in Egypt, U.S. aid was there almost immediately, and the only thing that’s different here is that we’ve got less to gain from helping Ukraine. I realize it’s all very complicated, but I’d feel less of a sense of reproach if it was at least being covered by the media, or if huge aid organizations like Red Cross and United Way were sending aid.
On a more sentimental note, I have a very lovely Ukrainian friend who lives in Italy with her child, but the rest of her family is back in Ukraine. And that makes it all particularly real to me, that her family, her child’s grandparents and aunts and uncles, could be in serious danger.
For more information, here’s a video from the Ukrainian people, asking others around the world to show support by pressuring their own governments to act. I don’t think it’s a bad idea.
More info can also be found at this link, which provides a helpful timeline of what’s been going on as well as stats about the violence: http://www.slideshare.net/NazarBartosik/what-is-really-happening-in-ukraine