What the United States can learn from Kiev

In the United States, we believe (in a lazy, round-about, vote-every-4-years way) that the power of the government comes from the people, and that we can express our power both through the democratic process and by voicing our opinion in the public and economic spheres. We can voice our angry opinions on the news, on social media, or with our friends. If the government does something that we are totally against, we can respond immediately by protesting. If the protest is successful, it shows the government that a large section of the voting population disagrees with the way things are being done, and that they need to change, preferably immediately.

In Ukraine, the President went against a measure that 90% of the population endorsed. Specifically, he decided to tie the country economically to Russia instead of the United Nations. Given the history of the USSR, the people were not in favor of this plan and began planning protests in Kiev, establishing a tent-city like the famed Occupy Movement. This protest was tolerated for a while, but as President Yanukovych refused to back down, the protesters became more vocal. Harsh laws were passed limiting the rights to protest, which allowed for the police to attack. The protesters counter-attacked, and everything went to hell in Kiev’s Independence Square. Some sources estimate that 77 people died in just 3 days of violence. Yanukovych has now fled the country, and the Parliament is preparing for a vote to form the new unity government.

What can we learn from Kiev? By the time you are protesting the things your government is doing, it is too late. If you place all of your political power in one basket, so to speak, you are giving up control over your government. People in America are content to vote only once every four years, and to trust the politicians to handle it from there. They ignore the businesses that are in bed with the government, and shop at corporations that have helped fund laws they are politically against. Passively allowing the government to run without your interference allows the state of the nation to spiral out of control. The people in Ukraine were passionate about their government, and it was still able to steamroll them. Most Americans couldn’t even tell you which state just passed a “Right to Discriminate” law (Arizona, business owners can refuse to serve clients without fear of discrimination suits if they can prove that their decision was based in religion). Loras challenges us to live ethically. So read the news today. Take a look at what our government and big businesses are doing to the country. Have an opinion, and (respectfully) act on it. If a government can threaten, attack, and imprison the passionate people of Ukraine with impunity, the passive people of the United States are an opposite example, where the government can take equal advantage of our lack of interest.

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