I would like to start my brief presentation with the lines of the famous poem by German Protestant pastor Martin Niemӧller:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.
The similarities of the current geopolitical situation to the one prevailing before World War II are so striking, convincing and widespread that they are almost inescapable.
At the same time, despite the remarkably obvious parallels, such an analogy seems so unreal to modern Italians, Germans or Spaniards, that it is hard to believe. Young Europeans believe that the events of the World War II are gone forever.
Europe paid dearly with millions of lives for the ideologies of fascism and Nazism that arose on its territory. These ideologies spread similar to the way cancer spreads. First, several cells appear, then a certain organ is affected, and then metastases appear in other organs…. Likewise, at first fascism and Nazism arose in someone’s head, then they took hold in a few other heads, who came together to form a party, which then seized power in a country, and then metastases appeared in different parts of the continent.
When the fascist cancer metastasized into the Sudetenland (1938), European countries agreed to cede away this part of their European body to the tumor. Europe hoped that, having captured a small part of the body, the cancer tumor will stop and not spread further. But does cancer stop because it has taken over the stomach or lungs? Can cancer stop by itself? The answer is obvious. In its time, Europe, on the verge of being overcome by the disease, somehow managed to find the strength to defeat it, at the cost of millions of lives. Millions of Jews were killed, millions of Ukrainians, Russians, French and Germans were killed in the war, millions were tortured to death in the concentration camps, including after the World War II in the Soviet Union. Having overcome this terrible disease, Europe again took a deep breath, and eventually a new international institution originated – European Union. We often hear that Europe is now stronger than ever. But is the European body really so strong and healthy today?
Doctors generally come to the conclusion that someone is finally cured of cancer only after a certain period of time when the disease has not returned. In this and many other diseases, relapse is a common phenomenon. Is this not what is now happening with Europe?
Europe is now in the situation where relapse is only at the beginning stage. The tumor has not yet reached the European organism, but metastasis has already penetrated deeply into several of its different parts. Perhaps Europe does not feel in danger, because it believes that the events in the eastern regions of a far-away Ukraine do not concern it. But cancer spreads in the human body regardless of what people believe about it. Regardless of what one believes or hopes, if nothing is done to interdict it, the cancer reaches more and more organs, the person’s condition deteriorates, and awareness of the danger sometimes comes too late to save the patient.
So does the manifestation of cancer in the Donbas region have any relation to the European body? The geographical definition of the European continent states that its borders run from Portugal to the Urals. Ukraine is located in the heart of Europe according to this definition. Today, the term Europe is often applied to a much smaller area, outlining the area of the European Union as a territory united by certain values. This, however, does not in any way reduce the actual boundaries of the European continent.
Moreover, the actual territory of the European continent, united with such core values as freedom, democracy, respect for human rights, and paying heed to the expressed will of the people, is much broader than what is delineated by membership in the European Union. One demonstration of this was the Revolution of Dignity, where commitment to European values was sealed with Ukrainian blood. Indeed, it is the blood of the Ukrainians that outlined on the European continent the new (real) borders of the European Union.
Having looked at the map of Europe and identified the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, we will have a clear idea where exactly the cancer or its manifestation is. But whether or not we understand the geography, this will not stop the development of this disease in the European body, and neither will ignoring it.
Let us also ask ourselves the question whether this is the only cancerous tumor on the European body? Has not cancer metastasized in other parts of the European body? Are not such cancerous cells reproducing by means of corruption in other parts of Europe? Are not European media penetrated as well? What percentage of the European body must be covered with this neo-fascist terrorist tumor for Europe to begin fighting this disease?
Will Europe be disgusted with itself and stop being itself, if it turns its back on the greatest manifestation ever of commitment to its values (Ukraine, with its Heavenly Hundred)?
“To be oneself” is a key element for a person or institution, which determines its continued existence. Telling in this regard is the history of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. This church was persecuted in the Soviet Union for its values and beliefs, it became a church of martyrs, but it kept true to its values and beliefs. And the fact that it remained true to itself and did not renounce its principles, ensured its rapid revival after the fall of the Soviet Union. It grew to a global church represented in five continents, up from a few regions in Ukraine.
“Be yourself” concerns not just one church but all Christianity. God reveals to mankind the truth about Himself and about humanity. God is the truth, the way and the life, and the church is the bearer of the truth, the way to the truth and the defender of life throughout history in general and also in particular times. Therefore, today the church must tell the truth about what is happening in Donbas. All Churches through theirs bishops that should bring to light the truth which is covered in darkness. Russian aggression must be called aggression, invasion – invasion, arms supplies – arms supplies, and Russian fascism – fascism. All churches must recognize those who were innocently killed and tortured in Donbas as victims, and not the parties to a conflict. The church must, in order to be itself and to be a church, tell the truth and call things their true names.
Europe must also “be itself” today. It has received a chance to overcome its relapse and rid itself of cancer (fascism) from its body, from Portugal to the Urals, once and for all. Europeans have received a chance to spread such values as freedom, respect for human rights, and respect for civil society far beyond the political association of the “European Union”. In confronting this neo-fascist disease in Russia, the European Union received an opportunity to root out corruption not only from Ukraine, but also from themselves. Only in such way will Europe become a continent united with European values.
If the ancient Greek philosopher Plato, who spoke about the earthly world and the world of ideas, lived today, he would have spoken about the idea of Europe, as the Europe which it is called upon to be. Today we have a chance together to build such Europe, otherwise we will build an anti-Europe, or transform Europe into a one large cancerous tumor, that will inevitably lead to its destruction.