Friday, February 28, 2014

Updates on Ukraine

Ukrainian police guarding the Crimean Parliament building.( Photograph: the guardian  )

         It's been one week since I last mentioned Ukraine in a post here, and frankly I am overwhelmed at the prospect of reducing all of the complex happenings there in the last week, and reporting to you as much as I know, without giving as much import to these happenings as they deserve.
              First of all, in most places in Ukraine, due to the civil and not so civil unrest, shops are closed. So, it could be exceedingly difficult right now to buy food, medicine, or something you find you need for a baby, child, or person who has become sick or injured in the past week.   Please know that all of you are in our prayers, and that people in the US are praying for your safety and your delivery from these complex challenges.

              The US does propagandize a percentage of the news which is shown here, particularly when it's international news.  Viktor Yanukovych, whom I mentioned in the last post, has fled Ukraine and gone to Russia with his family citing personal danger. He still claims to be rightful leader.  Ukraine's Parliament has issued warrants for his arrest for the murder of protesters.  Meanwhile, Ukraine's Parliament has gone about forming a new government.Ukraine has a new acting president Oleksandr Turchynov.   This looks good overall, but then there was additional news.

               Crimea, a section of Ukraine has a great many ethnic Russians.  In the tensions which have emerged this week, some of them have been shouting, "Crimea is Russia !"    In addition, Russia has mobilized armed fighters, helicopters, and ships and sent them to Ukraine.   Mr. Putin's official word is that "These are routine exercises" and he has also said that Russian troops are there in order to calm tensions in the region.  However, armed Russian soldiers have taken over two airports in Crimea.  Of course, all of this sounds reminiscent of Russia's occupation of Georgia some six years ago where they said they weren't there, and continued to take ground and destroy buildings.

               My interest is that families remain safe during whatever transitions occur there. May Ukrainians stay safe and retain their sovereign borders.    As I watch instability and civil unrest in Ukraine, I can't help but wonder how long it will be before civil unrest comes to the United States, the result of potentially economic collapse, or perhaps the continued loss of our freedoms by our present executive branch, without adequate pushback from our legislative or judicial branches.  I have friends that are both Ukrainian and Russian, and I wish all of you to be safe.    Best wishes, Ukrainian families who are in turmoil, please stay safe.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Prayers for Ukraine

(Independence Square Under Protest in Kiev      Picture:  EPA Igor Kovalenko  )

         Unlike most American boys of his age, Daniel knew a fair bit about Ukraine, and even knew that it is no longer "The Ukraine" but now, simply "Ukraine".    Homeschooling gave us the benefit of being able to study some history and geography depth that would not normally be included in the contemporary public school curriculum, and so, he knew a great deal more about the world, and about other nations than most Americans do.   He also knew something about Ukraine for another reason.  My husband's family were originally from Switzerland in the 1630s.  One of his ancestors was a mayor who got into trouble with the powerful Catholic church of the day, when he stated that he believed that a baptism should be done on someone who was aware of the choice they were making, rather than have a religious baptism performed upon them as an infant.  In that day, this was heresy, and as a result, he and his his large family had to flee for their lives, and  went to Germany.  Eventually, when Catherine the Great gave forty acres or more to families willing  to settle in what became the Ukraine, my husband's ancestors lived there.    (Those who are interested in reading more about this can look up the Molotschna Mennonite Settlement in Zaporizhia Oblast, Ukraine )  My husband's ancestors eventually came to the United States when it became clear to them that the Mennonites were to be controlled by the government there.  Daniel knew our family history on both sides, and I think that knowledge of family history made world history much more relatable and therefore more interesting to him.

                   It has been interesting to me that although I have never mentioned our family's history in Ukraine, however transitory, that Ukraine has been one of the nations that reads this blog and my others, in the highest numbers.  I really hope that some of the things we discuss here is somehow inspiring or encouraging, especially to those is Ukraine presently.

                   These are very difficult times in Ukraine.  Although American mainstream television is quite insular and only reports on things that appear to be at the pleasure of our own present regime, we have learned about the present challenges from foreign news networks, such as France 24, NHK from Japan, DW from Germany, RT from Russia and of course, BBC from the United Kingdom.   There has been turmoil in Ukraine in past years.  Economist and educator Yulia Tymoshenko had been Ukraine's first female prime minister.  Although she had  been a prominent politician there, and has been jailed on what appeared to most of the world to be trumped up charges. She was pro Ukrainian integration into the European Union whereas her opposition would prefer alliances only with the Russian Federation.  This has left a number of Ukrainians feeling underrepresented and concerned.  Many of them wish to join the European Union rather than preserving an alliance with Russia that they feel has historically been their oppressor.

                       The present prime minister is Viktor Yanukovych. Mr. Yanukovych had promised to reduce the powers held by the prime minister and to leave more to the Constitution, however these changes have not come as quickly as most Ukrainians have wished.  There is also the perception that he may be a Russian puppet. Many Ukrainians believe he is guilty of corruption and of cronyism. Many Ukrainians are demanding that he step down.    There have been numerous violent protests and Ukrainian police and military have killed protestors and sometimes simply students who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.  As I write this post, many Ukrainians believe that Ukraine sits on the verge of civil war.  Just a few hours ago, Mr. Yanukovych agreed to an early election.

                 For more than a year Ukraine has been on the verge of civil war.   Uncertainty and fear rule the day, and trust in the authorities is very weak.  I am reminded of trends which seem to be occurring here albeit a little more slowly, as well.  Please pray for the people of Ukraine who simply wish to live peacefully with equitable management. Please pray for the safety of the people of Ukraine.  We are thinking of you and your families.

This link explains some of the recent turmoil in Ukraine and their current regime's role in this:

Update:   February 22, 2014         It hasn't happened just yet but Parliament in Ukraine has voted to release Yulia Tymoshenko, who is currently in the hospital for a back ailment.    Parliament has promised to return to the Constitution as written in 2004.   However, the bulk of the people in Ukraine still wish to see Viktor Yanukovych removed.   These remain difficult times there.  Many people are concerned that such concessions may not be permanent ones.  They do not trust their present government.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day 2014

We have horses in chocolate colors and here we have horses made of chocolate.

           After the passing of a child, even five years down the road, holidays can be difficult and they can be added to a stack of holidays that just simply didn't live up to the ones you thought you could anticipate, had that child been alive.  The day is not only not what you had intended for yourself, but not what you had anticipated for your child.  This would be a Valentine's Day in which Daniel would have been 17 and only three months from his eighteenth birthday.  This might have been a special date night for him.
 Unfortunately, this is not the timeline we have on our own trip to Earth.  In this timeline we have time remaining for the rest of us here on Earth without him, and so we are faced with the challenge of making this time count and be meaningful, not only to those of us in the family who remain, but to Daniel also.
   This years Valentine's Day post will appear on another one of my blogs located at the link below.

 I hope that you too with find some joy and some meaning from it. I think Daniel would approve of the manner in which we spent our time today.

               Chocolate Horses

Happy Valentine's Day

"The Only Name (Yours Will Be)"          by Big Daddy Weave