I have been enjoying a little hiatus from writing this past month while the newspaper was taking its annual summer break. Understandably, the rest of the world continued on its merry and often not so merry ways oblivious to my little vacation. News happened, tragedies occurred, scandals erupted, politics continued to surprise, frustrate and anger people, new heroes emerged and villains continued to feed the media spotlight.
As I resume my weekly column, there is no shortage of appropriate fodder to feed my writer’s appetite. As my cousin Hryts from Pidkamin would say, “there is never any shortage of weeds to make the garden of life a challenging task.” In the coming weeks I will deal at length, if not in depth, with a variety of topics that have recently caught my attention. For this week though, I thought I would just do a quick run through of the virtual “weeds” that have invaded my journalistic space.
Of course, the notorious Putin weed continues to create new meanings for the term noxious. His latest manufactured provocation on the Crimean border is clearly a precursor for another invasion that would likely focus on creating the land corridor from Crimea along the eastern coast of the Black Sea, through Mariupul, and joining up with the current Russian forces that have encroached into southeastern Ukraine. His posturing and threats are a test for how Ukraine and its supporters will react. It there is a strong response from Ukraine and its allies, he will revert to other tactics. If he judges the response weak or tentative, you can be sure that the tanks and “green men” will flood across the Crimean border amid a flood of propaganda that he had no choice but to respond against “Ukrainian terrorist actions”.
Looking south of our border, I have been both entertained and dismayed in recent months by the spectacle of how a racist, intellectually challenged buffoon by the name of Trump has managed to bamboozle the Republican Party into nominating him for President. Not a day goes by without “the Donald” putting not only his foot but allegorically his whole leg in his mouth, uttering nonsense and vitriol that have many serious mental health experts speculating about his very sanity. Rational Republicans have been abandoning Trump in droves, vowing, albeit reluctantly, to vote for Hillary Clinton, as they cannot stomach the prospect of seeing Donald Trump as President.
On the political front in Ukraine, both the experts as well as ordinary Ukrainians, are increasingly beginning to wonder about their newly created hero, Nadia Savchenko, who was finally freed several months ago from Russian captivity. Since her release and entry into the murky world of Ukrainian politics, she has become a bit what Hryts would say “a bull let loose inside a crowded church!” Some of her statements, threats, speculations and political analysis have left people scratching their heads. It is obvious that some of her strengths as a military hero and political prisoner, namely strong individualism, stubbornness, impatience, outspokenness, intransigence and non-compromising character, may not exactly be assets in the world of politics and governance. Politics is the art of balancing idealism with pragmatism, and one hopes she is a quick learner and is able to channel her popularity and her energy into more productive strategies for moving Ukraine forward.
And of course, I cannot help but include something from my increasing interest in religion. A month and a half ago, the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church met in Crete after more than fifty years of planning to deal with pressing theological issues. I had hopes that there would be some progress made in bringing the Orthodox church, to which I belong, into the twenty first century. Interestingly enough, when I discussed this with my cousin Hryts some months before this Synod, he tellingly opined that his hopes were a little more modest, in that he only hoped that they might bring the church into at least the eighteenth or nineteenth century since it seemed to still be stuck at the Second Council of Nicaea of 787AD. Be that as it may, the results of this latest Synod, were, to be kind, somewhat underwhelming as I will relate in an upcoming column.
So much to write about! Stay tuned.