In A Place to Give An Opinion

I wasn’t going to write about this today.  I had a completely different topic in mind, but in the past few days I’ve seen pleas from two different people concerning the political unrest in Ukraine.

I try to avoid giving my opinion on politics.  Scratch that, I try to avoid giving my opinion at all.  I don’t think my opinion is that important, or that sharing it will make any sort of difference.  Today, however, I am in a place to give an opinion, where a dear friend of mine in Ukraine is not.  This is a friend who has through her life and example taught me to be braver and bolder, has shown me I can make a difference, and so today, I write for her.

Of course, we all know (I hope) that last Thursday a law was passed in Ukraine that was intended to shut down protests against the Ukrainian government since the decision to form stronger bonds with Russia in November 2013, instead of the EU (Source: BBC News).  This week we’ve been faced with reports of torture and death of protesters.  It’s a devastating situation.

It all boils down to two things I think we really take for granted and even abuse here in the United States: the will of the people and freedom of speech.  If we don’t like something that is going on here in our nation, we can band together and change it with little or no opposition, and we can express ourselves as we see fit with little or no recourse.

Sure, there was that little thing with Kirk Cameron and Unstoppable when Facebook shut down the official movie page, but really all that did was produce a bunch of angry Christians whining about persecution, and eventually the page was restored.  But let’s say it hadn’t: let’s say Unstoppable was blocked from Facebook for good.  Kirk Cameron had dozens of other options to publicize his movie.  And that is because he is blessed to live in the United States.  And let’s not forget about Phil Robertson, who was dropped from A&E for proclaiming his beliefs about homosexuality.  Again, American Christians cried persecution, and he was restored, but guys, if all else failed, he could have bought himself a camcorder and taken to YouTube.  If I’m not happy with public policy or government administration in this country, I can write a blog or a Facebook status about it.  I can join with other like-minded people to get it changed.  I have options.  Americans, we have options.

The Ukrainian people don’t have options.  They are opposed by a government that does not care about their wishes or desires, a government subverting the will of their people at any expense, up to and including humiliating and killing their own people.

Why should we as Americans even care?  This is happening in Ukraine, right?  That’s thousands of miles away from where we enjoy our privileges, how ever often we complain about persecution.  Should we care because laws impeding freedom of speech could spread?  I mean, it’s already happening here with Kirk Cameron and Phil Robertson, so what’s happening in Ukraine could be our reality any day.  Why should America go around making the whole world embrace our form of freedom?  This is Ukraine’s problem.

Dear Americans, we should care, and we should care deeply because the Ukrainians are people just like you and I, except they don’t have the privileges we have.  They would like to have a more democratic process (hence the protests), but their government has its own ideas.  The people’s voices are being taken away through legislation, humiliation, torture, and murder. 

I am connected to these people by humanity, by this sphere we call earth.  It doesn’t matter that I’ve never met them, that they are thousands of miles away, or that I can’t even begin to imagine the pain Ukraine is experiencing right now.  It’s not about democracy or freedom of speech as we understand it here, it’s about the people who have dared to take a stand for a better, more free life, and their government (an organization designed by God to administer good!) is trying to shut them down in a most abusive manner.  It’s about improving their quality of life.

Please pray for Ukraine.  Then, spread the word about Ukraine.  Their government will not fight for them, and I can imagine the people are feeling very isolated from the rest of the world.  Let’s show them we care!!!

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