It’s a beautiful day tomorrow – Kyiv Post


The character of a great civilization is that it yearns for a better future. It will be a beautiful day tomorrow.

I recently heard a moving speech:

“He knows little of the spirit of the Ukrainian people, or the tough fiber of the people of Kyiv… who were brought up to value freedom far above their lives. This wicked man, repository and embodiment of many forms of soul-destroying hatred, this monstrous product of ancient wrongs and shame, has now decided to try to smash Kyiv through a process of wanton slaughter and destruction. What he has done is ignite a fire in the hearts of Ukrainians here and around the world that will burn long after all traces of the fires he started in Kyiv have been erased. He has kindled a fire that will burn with a constant and consuming flame until the last vestiges of tyranny have been burned out of Europe.

In fact, I haven’t heard such talk recently. These are the words of Winston Churchill as England’s capital suffered a Nazi bomb blitz in 1941. I have exchanged a few words here and there but the speech is to the point in its clarity, the situation in which it was pronounced and in the fundamental message that hatred and terror will always give way to a better tomorrow as long as the love of freedom lasts. The British singer Vera Lynn understood it, expressed in her little sound songs. I stole the title of one of them for this essay (sorry, Vera).

When the bombs have stopped falling, when the fists and gnashing of teeth of propagandists have subsided, and when history has turned the momentary terror of war into a fleeting moment in the human past, you cannot escape the need to ask the question: What vision did each side offer to humanity? What good was offered to advance the human condition? Future generations will wonder. It’s also fine for any world leader to answer this question for themselves before embarking on a rampage.

Those who are not motivated by the idea of ​​a free society, however imperfect, still make a crucial mistake, the same mistake that Adolf Hitler made in those dark days of 1941. They fail to understand that within freedom is an intensely personal feeling. sense of self-esteem. After all, that is what ultimately characterizes the center of a free society – the dignity and respect that surround individual action and a government that sees itself as the protector of that bastion, not its arch-enemy.

From deep-rooted jealousy for the private emerges anger when attempts are made to violate it, especially by physical means. Thus, bombing the cities of a free nation never leads to subjugation, but to a greater passion for freedom, a fury fueled by the brazen arrogance of the tyrant and his contempt for the peace and privacy of life. The spirit stirring in the heart of Kyiv today is the same one that took root in the collapsed houses, bombed out buses and raging fires in London. It cannot be extinguished by a new terror; he can only be moved to greater action.

The intensity of freedom can never be understood by the tyrant because by his nature, and more prosaically, by his professional background, he has known only the success of brutality as a means to bend the human will. The edifice of a dictatorship is organized around the state’s monopoly on the use of violence and the application of this power to internal subjugation, and not only to defense against external threats.

Even when the dictator offers a vision, it is usually saturated with the rantings of nation, fatherland, force and ego. He ultimately loathes the gentle and benevolent character of individuals, their lives, their children, and their families, even if for a brief historical moment they are swept away by his talismanic aura.

The impotence of such terror lies in the reality that alongside it there is no glimpse offered for a better future, no structure and idea of ​​a society that can consolidate the essential desire to be free from terror and state oppression.

This power of freedom should not be underestimated. Many people point out that Britain no longer has an empire and is a political force in decline. Yet as long as a country retains a staunch belief in responsible government with a credible political opposition and the pursuit of individual freedom of speech, religion, and assembly, it will always have strong soft power at its heart. The same is true for Ukraine.

How else to explain Russia’s interest in the subjugation of a nation whose area is twenty-eight times smaller? How could Ukraine pose a threat to mighty Russia? The answer is simply the idea of ​​freedom. Its capacity to inspire terrifies and threatens any spirit which does not like the idea of ​​escaping the clutches of state power or which has an interest in clinging to a dynasty.

As for those called to fight against a population animated by the idea of ​​freedom, few beliefs can suffice. Giving one’s life for the fatherland or fatherland can only have meaning for the individual if that fatherland or fatherland itself represents a morally persuasive principle, because otherwise these epithets are just a mere statement of geography.

The strongest proponents of these ideas in recent years have been Western nations. This often leads to the erroneous conclusion that freedom is a uniquely Western idea. In fact, this illusion is so strong that even former colonized powers will side with an autocrat, or remain passive, simply to display apparent independence from the West. However, as India’s first Prime Minister after independence in 1947, Jawaharlal Nehru said about freedom and autocracy in his remarkable book The discovery of India, conceived and written during imprisonment by the British Raj, “This conflict is not just about India; it is from the West and also from the whole world, although it takes different forms there.

Freedom is not a Western thing. The desire to live free from the coercive impulses of rulers and to cling to a citadel of individual thought is found in the history of all mankind, in all ages, even before the birth of the modern conception of the nation state. Today it runs in the blood of the antagonist of Ukraine: in his Dostoyevsky, Solzhenitsyn, Mendeleev, Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich and others, Russia is flooded with the brilliance of genius, the seething foam of the mental freedom expressed in some of the most impressive scientific and cultural projects of humanity. works. If only she could energize that spirit more fully in the political sphere. If only we all spent more energy to achieve this in our political arrangements. It is an ongoing project.

Imagine a world of civilizations, all distinct in their influence, a world of color and variety in our outlook, but all fused together by a universal desire to see people live in mutual respect and freedom.

If we don’t believe in such visions of our future, and I don’t think they are unrealistic, we will live in an autocratic gloom that humanity will endure for a long time. There is no reason to resign oneself to such a future.

So here and now, as the drones buzz, the missiles fall, the battles rage and the heartache hurts so much, remember that better times will come. “If today your heart is weary, if every little thing seems gray, just forget your worries and learn to say: Tomorrow is a beautiful day.”

Charles Cockell is Professor of Astrobiology at the University of Edinburgh.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post.


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