In a recent interview for “The Kyiv Review,” Myroslav Marynovych, Vice-Rector for University Mission of the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU), and himself a dissident in Soviet times, reflected on the seventh anniversary of Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity. A translation of excerpts from the interview follows.
[Kyiv Review] What do both revolutions mean for Ukraine, in your opinion?
[Translator’s note: They are referring to the Orange Revolution of 2004-5 and the Revolution of Dignity of 2013-14.]
[M.M.] For me, the Maidan [these two revolutions, literally, “the public square”] is, above all, a significant spiritual phenomenon, a revolution of the Ukrainian spirit. The people acquire their subjectivity. Both maidans are the first historical events which distinguish and demarcate us from Russia and which are not part of our joint history. For, earlier, the majority of events were produced in a context created by them, where we were always derivative. When we speak of the Maidan, here, finally, we were not derivative but subjects of our own act.
[M.M.] I maintain that the Ukrainian people are passionate not so much about the question of ‘nation-building’ as such but about justice. I speak of passion because that is what gives us the energy for opposition and revolt. Justice is that first thesis which has, for centuries, been the most important for us. Another important thesis for us is the morality of those who have power. At the same time, justice is always in first place for us, inasmuch as the second is included in the first. Even more so, the concept of justice remains for centuries in the ethnopsychology of people. It is not consciously stated.
[M.M.] When St. Michael’s Cathedral in Kyiv sheltered in its walls the persecuted and wounded… From that moment, religion and the church became an important element of the protest movement and the general resistance. This example demonstrates that prejudice against religion can be conquered when the church takes an honorable position, for the human soul is ready to accept its support.
[The Kyiv Review] You work at UCU. What, in your opinion, is the most important thing to teach children?
[M.M.] Above all, formation in values is important. It is important to teach how to distinguish good and evil, especially in our time, when people have lost the ability to distinguish, when behind every good is something secret, unclean, and behind every evil stands a formulated response why this evil is necessary and why it plays an important role.
[The Kyiv Review] What was the dissident movement based on?
[M.M.] The dissident movement was, above all, a moral movement. We had no other means except morally not accepting what was around. In everything else, we lost. Especially in political matters. What policy could we officially introduce in those times? And so dissent was, above all, a moral position.
[The Kyiv Review[ What could today’s Ukrainian activism take from the experience of your participation in the dissident movement?
[M.M.] “Activists should not only fight for values but live according to them.” This thought was heard in our document of the Nester group.