You Are Ukrainian If You… Reason 1

You are Ukrainian if you are confused. Confused with history. You don’t understand why we talk in different languages in the same country. Why your great and grandparents suffered and were killed. Why your gramma wants to have an extra bag of flour if she hasn’t finished the previous one. Why your parents learned a different version of history. But you know for sure that your life says freedom.

Let’s break down the ambiguities from above.

History. Rewritten. Hidden. Rediscovered. My mom told me that she didn’t like History at school, but she likes reading it now. The book she had to read was about the war, heroes from the Soviet Union, and bad people from outside. It was not history, it was a poor reference book of propaganda. No peculiarities, no local history, no culture. If you are in the Soviet Union, you don’t need local, you need a Moskov outline of thoughts. People, who tried to save Ukrainian heritage, to find more about local ethnical things, were not scientists, but criminals — “vrag naroda” (literally “the enemy of the people”). They were imprisoned or killed. Why? Because it’s difficult to manipulate and rule if a person knows his or her roots. If you know your ancestry, you feel strength. If you are restricted from your family, you try to find belonging…in the party, in communism. At least Moskov aimed at it.

Language. Unpopular. Unified. Varied. Rich. Eloquent. Native. Given the fact that the Soviet Union needed a unified grey servent instead of a smart diverse individual, language is a thing that should be unified. The russian language would serve all the purposes, the others must have been banned. How? Making it the language of intellectuals, prestige, and hype. Others — silly, of a simpleton, of a peasant.

The trick of propaganda is that it’s not immediate. Sometimes you need a generation to change before it works. Children don’t understand why cool adults in movies talk russian and old grandparents talk Ukrainian. But they want to be cool. So they talk russian. That’s in case you have a choice. Because you might be bullied if you dare to talk Ukrainian in a russian-speaking society.

Extra bag. Famine. The Holodomor. As much as it is physical, famine is also psychological. A person, who suffered from a lack of food, will remember this experience throughout their life. My gramma has memories of times when there was nothing to eat. Because of that her legs and the legs of her brother were swollen. She was a child. Now she always has an extra bag of flour, pasta, and other goods in the pantry.

Freedom. Always. Nevertheless, there were always people who were not afraid to save and protect cultural heritage, family traditions, and identity. Even at the cost of life.

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