When My People Go

Photo: Евромайдан / Euromaidan. Illustration for Tetyana Kalytenko's "When My People Go"
Евромайдан / Euromaidan. Source: torange.us

Tetyana Kalytenko
Faculty of Humanities,
Master Program (1st year),
from Kyiv

There is no arguing with the fact that during the struggle for democracy that Ukraine has recently been going through, EuroMaidan has become a unique phenomenon and a sacred place of spiritual rebirth for my nation, where one can experience the Ukrainian culture expressed so vividly in people’s holy love for freedom in spirit, word and deed!

If you could hear the Ukrainian anthem sung at Maidan hourly, unifying thousands of voices singing for the true cause, you would inevitably come to the understanding that this is not a mere symbol of our country, but you would be filled with a soul-stirring feeling that it is all about our liberty, dignity, honor and courage. This is a national code, the Ukrainian mantra repeated several times a day as our spiritual breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is a song of the utmost love for our motherland passed on to us by our glorious ancestors; this is the melody of our peace and happiness; this has also become a lullaby for the children whose fathers have spent sleepless nights selflessly struggling for the power of justice in an uphill battle with the injustice of power. The key line of Ukrainian anthem suggests, “Souls and bodies we’ll lay down, all for our freedom!” It is not only a courageous call for decisive action, it not only demands our attention to the bitter price we pay for our freedom – it is also a unique statement of a phenomenal culture – the culture of sacrificial beneficence and sharing. And it is a cipher in our consciousness and blood. We do not sell ourselves; we do not buy other people. We share, care and believe in grace. While early societies sacrificed to the gods for an abundant harvest, bountiful hunting or victorious war, Ukrainians now are ready to lay down their lives for something as sacred and holy as freedom.

Maidan opened our eyes and showed us that we can be honest and sincere. It made it clear that there is something more to life than material assets and wealth. We are ready to give everything – food, clothing and our last pennies, which proves that in our struggle with corruption, spiritual values are more important than material ones. Independence Square has become a locus of trust, a place of power and an open-air temple of unity.

You did not give your sweater – you gave warmth. It was not medicine you shared but health. The homemade food you brought to Maidan bestowed peace and strength. The money you donated proved that materialism is not what is most important. Your presence there emanated love and light. Sharing has become a way of life and with it we have transcended ourselves. And then we began to share much more than clothes and tea. The phenomenon of sharing evolved and became all-pervasive. Sharing has ultimately developed into a ritual of communion.

We were physically, spiritually and unconsciously all there in Bankova, Hrushevsky, and Instytutska streets. Our prayers gave protection to our people. Our city was divided with the fences of weapons against peaceful protesters. The fire kindled in Hrushevsky street gave fire to our hearts. Priests’ sermons, irrespective of creed, gave faith and humility even to atheists. When the people’s blood sprinkled the ground – donated blood flowed to sterile drips. Since the soldiers of the Heavenly Centurion literally laid down their bodies for our freedom, we ceaselessly cover this altar of liberty with fresh amaranth flowers in the cherished and unfading memory of their holy sacrifice. And now we share our emotions, we mourn, we brush aside tears, we hug strangers and realize the essence of love for one’s neighbor… We are creating an invincible unity which is an extension of our historical companionship.

The culture of oblation is inexhaustible. It is spreading and growing, it breaks down stereotypes and material gods. Maidan taught us to give what is most valuable for the sake of what is most important. This is sharing for the movement towards freedom. And when my people go – God bless our way!

This essay is part of a series of student writing on the Euromaidan, part of the the Student Views of Euromaidan project.

For more information on this series and a full index of contributions, please see the introductory post.




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