Happy Thanksgiving

While America’s “morality-obsessed” voters get ready for their national day of gluttony (to be followed by our national month or so of avarice), yours truly would like to give thanks… to the people of Ukraine for taking democracy seriously enough to threaten an armed revolt when an election is clearly stolen right from under them (we’re obviously hoping this works out peacefully and orderly, with no loss of life; still, I am heartened by the enthusiasm all around) . While EU and Russian leaders are urging a peaceful resolution, its good to see that there are things in this world that some people actually take seriously enough to take to the streets about in meaningful numbers.
It’s not without some irony that American officals (like our lame duck Secretary of State) are acknowledging that Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych’s apparent electoral win for the Ukrainian presidency over challenger Victor Yushchenko is apparently tainted by fraud and not recognized as legitimate by the American government. The primary bone of contention, of course, is that exit polls show clearly that Yuschenko won. (Of course, exit polls were exactly accurate in predicting which American presidential candidate won… except in electronic-voting-machine heavy swing states Ohio and Florida. In some sense, it is a sign of our own national maturity that we have an orderly court system that we all respect… even when those very courts betray that respect. On the other hand, there are plenty of appropriate peaceful ways to show our outrage here… that aren’t being pursued. I believe it was Dr. King who said that we begin to die the day we stop talking about things that are important.)
Back in Kiev, Yuschenko supporters have been taking to the cold streets for days, and at various times, Yuschenko has threatened blockades, strikes, or worse. Yuschenko has offered to hold a new election, and at other times Yanukovych has been conciliatory and… less conciliatory.
For the moment, Yuschenko (apparently) will take his dispute with Ukraine’s election commission to Ukraine’s courts. If Ukraine’s high court proves to be as corrupt as the election commission (never seen THAT before), it remains unclear what will happen next (even as former Polish Solidarity union leader and President Lech Walesa is in Kiev to try to mediate a peaceful resolution). The situation remains potentially explosive (though thankfully, Ukraine renounced the Soviet era nuclear weapons on its soil a long time ago).
Thankful, talking dog, for potentially maddening disorder among a nation over 40,000,000 people? You’re damned right. While only 21% of our own 18-25 year olds bothered to get off their ass to vote in our own nation, other nations that have experienced totalitarianism and privation and chaos, et al. understand just how important… some things– like democracy– are. So important, they are worth taking chances for. And they will not sit back and take them for granted. It’s as if these people were… alive.
And for that, I am thankful. Even if they’re not my own countrymen.