From the start of civilisation, societies experiencing destructive events, like revolutions and wars, are exposed to stronger emotions in various aspects of their life. Development of our world, improvements of education and globalisation have a chance to diminish former social vulnerabilities. However, this piece is to discuss the example of a European country fighting a bloody war for three years and building its national identity at the same time. Here is the analysis of the love and hate mood in Ukrainian society for the last years of conflict with Russia.
Three years of destructive war, falling economy and huge poverty made Ukrainian society very sensitive and hotheaded. In reality where almost every day Ukrainians are being killed or wondered opposing Russian aggression in Donbass, the society does not let anyone to stay apart and insists “to choose the side”. While some decisions are easier, others still stay controversial.
Ukraine is a big country with history of occupation by its neighbours. That is why building its national identity in the years of independency became a difficult task. Obvious heroes in Western part of the country were not accepted in the East and vice versa. Revolution of dignity and war in the East needed to organise people by common strong feelings and heroes are to be an important part here. Historical policy of renaming streets to delete the communist past and destroying monuments of Lenin was followed by making new heroes and enemies from living figures. The process looks like putting them into the pedestal and with the same speed throwing them from it.
The most famous example is Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko, who was captured and illegally put into prison in Russia. Enormous protests took place not only in Ukraine but all over the world. Nadiya became a symbol of Ukrainian unbreakable soul fighting with Russian aggressive actions. When she returned to Ukraine, some were seeing the lady as a perfect candidate for the next Ukrainian president. However, the adoration of the society rapidly changed into hate and disgust when Ukrainian Jeanne d’Arc appeared to have her personal opinion which differed from the accepted patriotic norms. Her proposition to talk with Donbass separatists and gradually remove sanctions against Russia pulled her into the group of “national betrayers”. Her support decreased and she was widely criticized by all social groups.
The war mood in the society touched also culture. The pantheon of Ukrainian artists (singers, actors etc.) were rapidly divided into good and bad ones. Everyone who went to Russia for a concert, was claimed a betrayer and a huge campaign against him was promoted in media. That was the case for Ani Lorak, one of the most famous Ukrainian singers, who lost huge number of fans and became an aim of the most terrible articles in Internet after her decisions to give a concert in Crimea, to continue cooperation with Russian artists, her participation in New Year’s shows of Russian propaganda TV channels. Ukrainian concerts of Ani Lorak are accompanied by protests and she is widely criticized in different media.
From one side the war made society very emphatic to the compatriots’ sufferings. Videos of Ukrainians kneeing to say goodbye to the killed soldiers are touching the hardest heart. Pensioners are giving the last money from their 50$ pensions to help Ukrainian soldiers. People with good careers and secured lives are leaving everything to risk their lives and health to protect Ukrainian state from its Eastern neighbour. After so many days of war, every day, tears come to the eyes of every Ukrainian, while watching news from Donbass…
From the other side, together with empathy hate and anger came to Ukrainian society. An extreme example is the latest death of a former member of Ukrainian Parliament from the Party of Regions, Irina Berezhna. Irina was known for her anti-governmental position regarding present situation in the country. This was a reason for many users of social media to celebrate the death of a Ukrainian politician, and for some event to express sadness that her 8-year daughter survived in the car crash.
While the decision of punishment during the war was always a difficult task, which was checking the limits of people’s humanism, other tendencies are touching everyone. Overall change in mood aggravated the crime situation in the country. More small and big robberies, domestic murders and even aggression in public transport became a norm in fragile Ukrainian society. Once, a veteran of the war in Donbass was cut with a knife by a bus driver due to a small word dispute. Another time, a veteran of the war in Donbass was killed because he was protecting his song playing street music from a person demanding to stop playing the music.
Coming to a conclusion, some moments should be revealed. Of course, not every Ukrainian was made moody by the war. Of course, some of the described events could be provocations, even organised by Russia. There are many issues from one and the other side. However, the huge increase in both love and hate mood in fragile Ukrainian society is a fact. While, now the war could stay a justification; after the conflict resolution, Ukrainian society will have to cure its wounds and learn how to become more stable and wise in choosing its heroes and enemies.