Ukrainian Philosophy of the Heart

Every day, rolling out of bed, I start with the recognition of a simple tenet of my life: “love what you do and do what you love.” A philosophy I’ve intertwined into every fabric of my being, but this morning I stare at these words I’ve just typed, and I’m lost. 

A photo taken in Kyiv at the Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square), stares back at me from my computer screen. The freedom of that cold December night, the walk along the Square among friends old and new carries no resemblance of today. 

My eyes drift to another photo, a voice answers the question churning in my mind. “The man on the horse, his name is Bohdan Khmelnytsky,” I nod, her voice soothes. “He led the first successful uprising for Ukrainian independence.”

I stare at the photo, unable to remember my thoughts when I first saw this statue but given the photo is blurry, I know Ukrainian vodka is partly to blame… I also understand that anyone who leads a country to independence is a person to be held in high esteem.   

“Not much is actually known about Khmelnitsky,” she wanders over to my computer screen to view the photo closer. “But one thing is for sure, he is shrouded in an aura afforded only to legends ~ a hero in all kinds of tales, poetry, and song.”  

Her voice holds a sense of pride, of defiance. In her sigh I can make out “… and this spirit is alive and well in Ukraine today.”

Ukraine. How much I do not know about this land. And how much I admire the people, friends and strangers, who are holding strong. I think of my last visit, seeing Yevgeniy and Alex with David and Anna.

“Your fleeting understanding of Ukraine is understandable, your desire to learn commendable. Question: have you ever heard of the philosopher Hryhorii Skovoroda?

My lost expression brings a sigh and slight shake of the head.

“His wisdom is at the heart of Ukrainian philosophy… and he was a bit of vagabond too, so I think the spirit of you two align well with each other.” She teases.

“According to Skovoroda, the harmony of will is a soul, and the heart is its center… it contains the potential of the whole universe. His work is at the core of the Ukrainian “Philosophy of the Heart.” Looking into my eyes, my soul, she hands me his essay, “see what you think…”

I like the ring of this, his ideas flow in a manner similar with other great minds. His thought distinctive, but I can see why he is referred to as the “Ukrainian Socrates.”  There is wisdom in his actions as well as his words.

“The 18th century was not kind to Ukraine, enslaved by Russia there was a need for a spiritual rebellion in the nation and Skovoroda’s writing filled the void perfectly.” The admiration in her voice draws me in closer, “He reminded his humbled countrymen about the great virtues of Ukrainians: the love of freedom, power of the will, sincer­ity, and the desire to learn.”  

“His desire to learn drove him from a life of comfort and out into the world to seek wisdom.” She points to a sentence, his mantra: “To be happy is to know oneself, to find oneself…” her laugh resonates with her mocking tone: “as you often say… love what you do and do what you love.”

She puts her warm hand on my shoulder, her eyes look beyond anything I can imagine. The steeliness in her gaze holds a strength seldom seen: the strength of a nation. As she turns to leave, my heart fills with admiration and hope for her and Ukraine.

A fog of uncertainty remains as she drifts away.  I look at my phone, messages from my friends in Sumy spells worry, but also hope. I think back to the discussion last night with a colleague from Kharkiv; stretched and stranded between work here in Czech and his homeland under siege. 

I unfold a piece of paper with a Ukrainian poem given to me called “Testament” (Zapovit) by Taras Shevchenko, written on December 25th, 1845.  And while poetry does not come easy to me, this one hits the mark:

When I am dead, bury me

In my beloved Ukraine,

My tomb upon a grave mound high

Amid the spreading plain,

So that the fields, the boundless steppes,

The Dnieper’s plunging shore

My eyes could see, my ears could hear

The mighty river roar

When from Ukraine the Dnieper bears

Into the deep blue sea

The blood of foes… then will I leave

These hills and fertile fields – I’ll leave them all and fly away

To the abode of God,

And then I’ll pray…. But until that day

I know nothing of God.

~

Oh bury me, then rise ye up

And break your heavy chains

And water with the tyrants’ blood

The freedom you have gained.

And in the great new family,

The family of the free,

With softly spoken, kindly word

Remember also me.

Translated by John Weir, Toronto, 1961

Shevchenko moves the soul.  And in the true spirit of today, during the year of 1847 he was arrested for writing a poem (Dream) in the Ukrainian language (illegal, for only use of the Russian language was permitted). He doubled-down on his fate with Dream by promoting the independence of Ukraine while also ridiculing the members of the Russian Imperial House.

Seriously, this is a man after our hearts. 

Within these turbulent times of today, I reflect on what I’ve learned recently; a subtle, sincere foray into Ukrainian thought. From the philosopher Skovoroda of the mid-1700s to the poet Taras Shevchenko of the mid-1800s.

The discovery of Skovoroda’s philosophy and his Socratic way to seek out life, inspires ~ and props to the epitaph he requested on his gravestone:

Світ ловив мене, та не впіймав

The World tried to catch me but failed

The other great surprise is from the poet, Shevchenko. To learn how he was revered around the world, especially in the USA as both President John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson honored him:

“He was more than a Ukrainian — he was a statesman and citizen of the world.

He was more than a poet — he was a valiant crusader for the rights and freedom of men.

He used verse to carry on a determined fight for freedom.”

Lyndon B. Johnson, Oct. 26th, 1964

Restless here in 2022, I wonder about the next great Ukrainian mind to shine? Undoubtedly a courageous free spirit with fire in their soul, daring anyone to take away what has been rightly earned. 

From what we’ve all seen recently, Ukraine is a nation full of such heroes. One hopeful who is already reshaping his country and the world is current President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy. May his star continue to shine even brighter. 

I’m not alone in this hope and the outpouring of support given to the Ukrainian people will help them find truth and peace. 

The road will be a difficult one ~ suffering borne by others ~ but they can take heart in knowing the world is behind the beautiful potential of Ukraine.

166 Comments on “Ukrainian Philosophy of the Heart

  1. Marvelous tribute to Ukraine, Randall. Your wonderful photos celebrate the people and the cities. The image of the man in his workshop, your night shots of the snow covered city and your friends enjoying a meal— all part of a stunning collection. The history and the poem capture the determination and heroism found in its people. Thank you for this post.

    • Thank you very much, Jane. Every day there are more stories and heroic acts from Ukraine. It is amazing how they are galvanizing the global community, giving us hope and inspiration. I very much like how you say “celebrate the people and the cities” because it serves as a reminder of how life should be lived and honored. Also, the image of the man in the workshop is one of my favorite photos I’ve taken ~ the subject is happy and proud of what he’s built and done… reflective of simple honesty of living a great life. Wishing you well.

      • It so satisfying when making an image comes together like that, Randall. The interaction between photographer and subject comes through in the final image. Great storytelling through photography. Take care.

  2. What a beautiful post and wonderful tribute to Ukraine and its people.

    • Thank you, Timothy, for your kind words. There is this strong spirit around the world these days that we are all Ukrainian, and it is a very good thing.

  3. Randall, your words run deep in our minds & hearts here in the US. To know more about Ukrainian history and strong leaders is comforting. Pray the people continue to hold onto their beloved country. And the destruction stops. Thank you for your insightful post. Stay safe yourself. 🙏 Christine

    • The history and life in Ukraine has so much depth and richness and I think wherever we are in the world, we can relate to loving the place we live and where we’ve built a life ~ and in difficult times to see the strength of the people and its leaders rise is so inspiring. Thank you for your thoughts, they mean a lot to me to be able to connect with others especially in times like this.

    • Thank you, Georgia. With all that is happening in Ukraine and the struggles they face ahead, having the global community give such strong support brings hope.

  4. Poignant and thought provoking, as always, Randall. May your friends there be safe and well, and may the people of the Ukraine triumph and hold on to their freedom. These are truly troubling times.

    • It is hard to imagine such a situation escalating to the level it has, a democratic sovereign country being threatened by a dictatorship… Thank you, Jolandi, for your nice words. Perhaps these events in Ukraine, their fight for freedom will in the end also change the Russian government ~ allowing the great people of both these countries the freedom to create something special.

      • One can certainly hold on to hope, Randall. As one should always do in the face of any adversity.

  5. “And how much I admire the people, friends and strangers, who are holding strong.” That was the first line that resonated with me. It is indeed a nation of heroes, and I hope they know the world is standing behind them. I wish we were standing with them more than we are. And I admire the Russian protestors who are as dismayed as the rest of the world. Lovely photos of Ukraine’s cities and people. A beautiful tribute, Randall.

    • The line you mention, Diana, was very reflective of my sentiments when the reality of what was happening hit me. Such courageous and strong people, and they have ignited this wave of support (emotional and through action) that is inspirational ~ and as with you I hope the support and care grows and does not falter, as there is still much to be done. The difficulties for all involved is heartbreaking, and you make such an important point with the Russian protesters. Thank you very much – and wishing you well, Diana.

  6. Not so far from where my life’s journey started… with scenes reminiscent of the folks fleeing from the murder and mayhem as the valiant souls remain to fight for their hard fought freedom.
    Your images touch something primal in me… I simply don’t have the words to express the feelings and hopes I have for these brave, brave souls. 🇺🇦

    • It seems every day I too can’t find the words to express what is happening ~ and strong admiration for those brave souls. Thank you, Gunta. It is often said “history repeats itself” and for the most part is it very true ~ but I get the sense here that there has been a significant shift expectations with how this has played out. Aggression of this nature with the goal of stifling freedom further (both Ukrainian and Russian) is something that does not mesh well with the freedoms / creativity / unity we are experiencing and we need globally to evolve into something better.

  7. You are definitely not alone in your wishes and hopes for a peaceful future for the people of the Ukraine . Thank you for this beautiful poignant post that so wonderfully captures the essence of these troubling times. A moving post.

    • Yes indeed, Miriam, it is a good feeling to have such a great global response in support of Ukraine ~ it seems they feel the support, and in return we feel inspired to do all we can to help. The best of course being a stop to all aggression. Thank you very much for your words.

  8. Well said and shown, beautifully thoughtful as always Randall. Of course our hearts are with the amazing Ukrainians who are fighting so valiantly, and sadly also with the Russian protesters who are being jailed for speaking out. These are difficult times for our world which with very few exceptions is standing with those fighting for their freedom despite being undermanned and outgunned. Rather reminds me of the days of the Cuban Missile Crisis but you may be too young to remember that. I barely do myself. Anyway, thanks for bringing to light some of the unknown heroes of Ukraine’s history. May they persevere through these awful times.

    • Today I was talking with a small group here about the severe damage being done, catastrophic for the Ukrainians, their freedom and livelihood, and then as you say such unnecessary suffering for the peaceful population of Russia and globally such sadness. It is hard to believe we live in a modern world where the ego of a man results in such ill-thought out action. Funny you mentioned the Cuban Missile Crisis, as up until last week I had read about the Munich Agreement and thought this is what was playing out in Ukraine… and so sad it has devolved into something so much worse. Thank you, Tina, for the kind words. It was an incredibly inspiring feeling learning about the unknown heroes of Ukraine’s past while and now watching some new heroes coming to light.

      • Hoping they can persevere despite overwhelming odds Randall. An immense tragedy for both countries, and indeed for the world at large.

  9. A beautiful post for Ukraine and the people of Ukraine.. This is a sad event and I can’t imagine it happens in modern time. My heart goes to Ukraine and its people..

    • You are exactly correct, how can such a situation like this happen in modern times? I’ve always hoped that at some point in time, societies will focus on how to excel in the future, instead of getting caught up in brash, bullying days of aggression of the past. Thank you very much, YC. Wish you well.

  10. Thank you Randall for sharing your compassion and insights into the people of Ukraine during these troubling times. Great weaving of photos, history, and insights. May they stand strong in freedom and courage. 🙏

    • Very much appreciate your nice thoughts, Brad. It is inspiring to understand their history and amazing culture ~ but it is just as tough reconciling their recent history to what’s happening today. Agree with you on standing strong in freedom and courage, they have shown they have plenty. Take care ~

    • Thank you very much, Eliza. The universal outpouring of support for Ukraine and her population is a tribute to their courage and determination to remain free and in control of their lives and nation.

  11. Very moving Randall… and rousing for the valiant souls fighting for democracy and freedom. Thank you for sharing the images of the people, the cities and their philosophy. May peace come soon 🤍🕊🤍

    • Witnessing this unwarranted aggression has been unimaginable for us all in the global community ~ and makes us realize the important democracy and freedom, watching these valiant souls give everything to hold onto their future. Your words are wonderful Val, and thank you very much and agree that peace cannot come soon enough.

      • Thank you Randall for being here, and being a witness to it all. ✨🕊✨ May peace prevail.

  12. I use software made in Ukraine; and follow artists, travelers, models too to be honest, architects, reviewers of audiophile earphones, and who knows how many more from Ukraine. But something I know for sure is that they are a nation with their own culture, very alive and loving their land; I thing they have been set up in a game played by bigger players in these few years, as my own country has been in order to be under the influence of one power or other. I hope things solve soon, wars are sad specially for children that take it as a kind of normality when it is not.

    • You bring such great insight into this conversation. The depth of their culture goes beyond what most of us are aware, and even though normal life came to a screeching halt just one week ago the Ukrainian spirit will always hold true. I think this is what makes this situation so sad is Ukraine will also pursue their freedom and autonomy… so this war is simply useless for Russia. And you are so correct, global politics leaves many countries (as you mention are very aware of this with Peru) holding onto nothing because of ‘power politics.’ In this case, I hope things are different and the outpouring of global support works to create a peaceful resolution quickly. Thank you very much, Francis.

  13. Beautiful tribute to the Ukraine, Randall. Never mind the shaky photos. Each one is beautiful and tells a unique story of nation and the people. Thanks for introducing us to Skovoroda’s work, and Shevchenko’s poem too. It’s incredible to see the passion in their work for standing up for what they believe in, for the community they belong to. It’s a very unfortunate time for the world, but it is also heartening to see people recognising and fighting for their rights. The human heart and spirit are always stronger than we think, and hopefully peace will prevail. Take care, Randall.

    • The shaky photo does bring back memories of that night – part being overwhelmed about being in Kyiv and listening to their stories of continual struggles with their neighbor, and the other was simply learning so much about their culture. And Borscht became my favorite dish 🙂 With my additional visits, I began to the different areas and how much I enjoyed working with them… so what is happening now is so difficult to reconcile. You say it very well, Mabel, it is a very unfortunate time for the world but the fight of the Ukrainians are igniting a fire for freedom that we need to keep lit strong around the globe. And yes, the human heart and spirit are always stronger than we think 🙂 Beautiful words, Mabel, and thank you very much.

    • Thank you very much, Dana… I’ve always been amazed at all the different cultures in Europe, and learning more about Ukraine has been special. wishing you well.

  14. Our hearts go out to the people of Ukraine, Randall. Thank you for this deeply moving tribute to a nation fighting for their country, freedom and democracy and also for sharing the poem of Shevchenko and the philosophy of Skovorda with us. Wonderful photos.

    • Thank you very much, Dina, for the nice words and also for the support and your efforts too ~ inspirational. The power of a nation with such a rich history, albeit very complicated, is built upon their continued pursuit of freedom, a freedom well earned. What is happening now is something that is out of the past, but not acceptable in today’s modern world… and the people of the world are letting Putin. Wishing to see Ukraine continue to thrive independently once this war is over ~

  15. May your friends in Ukraine be safe and persevere during this tragic time for their country. I like to believe that most of the world is standing behind Ukraine right now because what the country is facing basically threatens its existence, something people across the globe can sympathize with. I hope the unprecedented sanctions against Russia will help stop the war sooner than later.

    • Thank you very much, Bama. My friends are doing OK, but seeing things they never could have imagined. I too believe the world is in overwhelming support of Ukraine, in part because they are this shining example of what a country goes through to earn their freedom ~ and to have it dissolve in such an abhorrent manner would hurt us all. My hope is a brokered peace immediately with a long time-table of talks, it would allow Putin/Russian government to save face and everyone to breathe again. One thing we do know, Ukraine is not going to go quietly in the night when their existence is in question.

  16. Hello Randall,
    Your tribute has me tearing up a bit. I have some very, very close friends in Ukraine and their faces are in my mind as I read this. As another reader has already commented, throughout history, people have demonstrated how the human spirit remains despite/in spite of seemingly insurmountable circumstances. I continue to hope that peace will prevail while also doing my own small part to contribute to that. Please continue to take care and stay safe my friend.

    • Hello Takami, what a wonderful heartfelt comment ~ the empathy to have for friends and their situation certainly adds to the emotion of what has transpired over the past week and I hope your friends are doing well. To have this connection and then to see the absolute commitment they have towards their country, their freedom, and to each other and it can be overwhelming. The desire to help in any way possible still feels like it is not enough, but I truly agree we must continue to do what we can to contribute. Wishing you well, and thank you very much for sharing this. With hope, a peaceful resolution along with continued Ukrainian independence will arrive soon. Take care, my friend, and look forward to happier times.

  17. I thought of you when I wrote the post I published today.
    Thank you for sharing this view of Ukraine. I have no doubt that they are great people.
    Today on the Mexican radio, a Ukrainian said: “I didn’t vote for our president. But in just a few days, a comedian has become a statesman. And many statesmen around the world have become comedians.
    May we help Ukraine stay free. 🇺🇦

    • The quote you have given is simply perfect, and I could not agree more. President Zelenskyy has transformed himself into a world icon of freedom and democracy ~ how he did this was him just being true to himself and the Ukrainian people. He gives hope not only to his nation, but he also gives hope to all free individuals around the world… he will never back down. Ukraine will never back down. It is their moment, for sure, but in many ways it is our moment as well because what Ukraine does will set the tone for a new world order for us all. Thank you for this quote, Brian, inspirational.

      • You’re welcome. A simple man’s saying. Maybe those simple men (and women) will save the West. Of just Freedom.
        I read that they’re evacuating women and children but not men between 18 and 60. Who apparently are all up to fight.
        A new world order set by a small country almost no-one had ver heard of… Black swan again. (If you’ve read Taleb?)
        Take care my friend.
        The pictures of your Ukrainian friend (Forgot her name) might inspire me another drawing. Saved the pix.

      • Great point, it is the simple, honest, everyday men & women who will save freedom in the end, there is no stopping this will. Taleb is a great read, and this a black swan moment. Keep up the inspiration my friend, and be well Brian. Thank you.

  18. The courage, strength and resilience of the Ukraine 🇺🇦 people has inspired each of us around the world and your beautiful post reminds us, although we cannot control our circumstances in life, we can respond to these experiences in truth and love ☮️
    May they receive all the support they need and be liberated from all suffering.

    • Wonderful comment, Karen, and thank you very much. This has been perhaps the most revolutionary aspect about the Russian invasion ~ there are the Ukrainians fighting for the very thing we all often take for granted, which helps us understand how fragile freedom and democracy is in the world… and to witness the heroics daily via social media inspires within us the desire to support them with all our hearts. I think it also fuels us to never allow our brothers & sisters around the globe to have such freedoms they’ve worked so hard for to be taken away. And the greatest hope for the great Ukrainian nation is for this to be accomplished peacefully ~ where all side wins.

  19. Yesterday the first refugees from Ukraine reached my hometown and Cologne. A young father of 30 years old accompanied his wife and two little sons of 4 and 6 years to Germany for them to be safe. He has left again for Ukraine to fight the Russian envaders, side by side with his 55year old father. May God protect and save them and Ukraine!

    • Amen! It is the pure commitment to their country, homeland, and to each other which is inspirational to us all. Thank you, Feder, for this story as it touches upon everything we’ve seen this past week ~ and it also meshes perfectly with the heroes of the Ukrainian past. To face their aggressors, united father and son (mother and daughter) and protect a freedom they have given up so much to achieve. These are the acts of bravery we need everyone around the world to see, understand, and then to practice. Really a touching story – and as you say “May God protect and save them and Ukraine!”

    • Also, it is such an honor you give to the Ukrainian people, their culture, and their history to have re-blogged this. Thank you so much, my friend. Wishing you well ~ Randall

  20. Dear Randall,
    what a great post! 👍 Thank you.
    We reblogged it.
    Wishing you and your friends and all people in Ukraine all the best
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Thank you very much, Klausbernd. For you to share this on your space is wonderful ~ a great way to honor the Ukrainian culture and the greatness of their nation. It is inspiring to see people around the world come together in support and to also understand that freedom and democracy are fragile and must be defended at all times. We are all in this together. Thank you again, my friend!

  21. Oh dear, it didn’t work therefore we link it.
    If we click your ‘reblogging’ button nothing happens.

    • Perfect, and thank you – the reach from your site is something special, your voice covers all corners and to be able to share some insight into this incredible culture and country of Ukraine that is giving us so much more to believe in these days. Best to the Fab Four of Cley 👨👩‍🦰🧚‍♀️🧚!!

      • Thank you soooo much 🙏 🙏 dear Randall for your kind words.
        Your post is extraordinary well written and illustrated. It deserves to be spread. You express the solidarity with Ukraine much better than we would be able to.
        All the best to you and your family
        The Fab Four of Cley
        🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  22. Pingback: Truly, we live in dark times | The World according to Dina

  23. How could war even be true. It can’t be so. It’s just another nightmare. I know I will wake up and find it
    all to be another story. What has happened to our world? Why are we so missed up? Wasn’t Covid enough?

    • It is amazing to have these series of events that shake up the whole world. Hope we learn that as one, working together, we can get through anything. Our brothers and sisters in Ukraine are teaching us this right now. Take care, Eddie, and thank you as always!

    • Thank you very much, Robert ~ really happy to hear they had a good impact with you. Wishing you the best.

  24. What a wonderful tribute to Ukraine, its heroes and its population. We all hope that God protects and saves Ukraine! Our prayers are for all of you.

    • Thank you very much, Rudi ~ you say it well, all our hope and prayers to Ukraine and their heroes and its people. They deserve the happiness and freedom to create even more great moments for their countries.

  25. I feel for the Ukrainian people and they are in my prayers. May it be over soon please. It is just terrible.

    • Thank you, Ute, and I so much agree with you. This situation is simply overwhelming to try to comprehend, and it is clear to see from the outpouring of global support the Ukrainian people are not alone. Wishing you well.

  26. Thank you Dale for these photos and your tribute to the people in Ukraine. How brave are the Ukrainian people. How cowardly is Putin and his war machine.

    • The action of Putin is unconscionable – as while there is a long history between these two countries, Ukraine is a sovereign nation with an established democracy and part of the modern world in giving their citizens the right to freedom. There is no turning back – and this is such a mess he has created. You either think forward or you think backwards, and I agree with you in saying cowards (like Putin) think backwards. Sigh… and thank you very much, they Ukrainian people are showing bravery and strength which can teach us all around the world how to live. Thank you very much, John. I hope all is well and look forward to catching up with you.

  27. This contains such depth of knowledge about Ukrainian culture and thinking. Wonderful photos too. Thank you for your insight and tribute to the country and its people.

    • The spirit of us all is truly something special to see, the support and recognizing the Ukrainian people and nation. It was nice to be able to feel a bit more of her history and culture and join in with everyone sharing something special during this horrific incursion of their homeland. Thank you so much.

    • There is something about this invasion, the power of social media bringing it directly and immediately to us ~ and the incredible sad stories matched by the incredible heroic and courageous people holding strong to their country and freedom. I agree, it is heartbreaking – and it is also bringing us all together… The power of the people of the world is where hope lies, and like the Ukrainians I hope we all never give up on the dream of freedom for all. Thank you so much, Cornelia, for commenting. Wishing you well.

  28. Absolutely beautiful Randall, on all levels. I have fallen in love with the people of Ukraine in the past week, as, I suspect, have many who knew little of it previously. May this madness soon end. Thank you for this tribute.
    Alison

    • This is such a wonderful comment, Alison, thank you ~ I too have fallen for the Ukraine, they hold so much in what the world needs right now, the courage and commitment to each other to stand up for what is right: freedom. It is something special to see the world come alive in support for the Ukrainian people and their commitment ~ and I just hope this grows, because we as a global community cannot allow it to dip. We can’t afford for this valiant effort to fail… and I too hope this madness ends soon. Take care.

  29. Pingback: Ukrainian Philosophy of the Heart | Federflüsterin

    • Bless you, Ina. There is always a bit of darkness before dawn ~ cold and bitterness as winter turns into spring ~ and moving forward with strength (both within and from those beyond) we can make it through. I think the message of the world is simply to hold fast and be strong, which is essential in all our daily struggles. The brave and remarkable history of Ukraine is proving to be inspiring to so many. Take care ❤️

    • Thank you, Manja. The epitaph Skovoroda requested is something simple yet also has so much depth with his philosophy ~ seek out life and inspire others with happiness. A friend of mine wrote to me where she shared her thoughts of the epitaph: Skovoroda was very much a Stoic, much like the previous posts you have written, he would have enjoyed them… and I think an even better translation of his epitaph he wrote would be: “The world set a trap for me, but it did not catch me.”

      I too like this take 🙂 Wish you well.

  30. There’s few countries as downtrodden as Ukraine in Europe. Two world wars, a genocidal famine, a nuclear disaster and now this… only in the last 150 years. I can’t shake off a feeling of sadness for all those involved. I had Ukrainian neighbours in Italy, you’d normally see UA-plated cars around, I actually had a supplier with coders over in Kiyv. Over time I struck up a MS Teams friendship with two of them, whom I know are reservists. Now I guess they’ll be out fighting.

    And at the same time I feel for those Russian squaddies sent out there. I think we’ve all seen the Twitter videos of young conscripts being taken prisoner, shaking like leaves, left with no food. I saw one of them cry that they didn’t even pick up the bodies of their fallen comrades. For what? So that a sycophant can feel a bit less paranoid.

    And I fear the worst is yet to come.

    Fabrizio

    • Fabrizio, you really cut to the heart of this situation; the whole world (including the Russian population) being turned upside down by this aggression. Putin’s war serves no intelligent purpose except for some archaic geopolitical stance/ideology of war that is so outdated it’s irrelevant in today’s world. Absolutely heartbreaking for the Ukrainian people, and as you say so for a large part of the Russian people who are silently stifled in horror at these events as well.

      The connections we have with the Ukrainian people as a whole and then the personal connections and shared lives makes this moment in history stand out. Wishing the best for your reservist friends in Ukraine, they are holding a line which is so fragile and so important. Thank you very much for your insight and thoughts on this ~ and like you I too fear what lies down the road. Today is the moment to stand strong – as complex and fraught with danger as it is. Take care my friend. Wishing you well.

    • Thank you very much, Lynn. Yes it seems the world has united behind the situation in Ukraine and we are all Ukrainians. Hopefully some sense of normality will quickly arrive.

  31. Hi, Randall, your words are heartfelt and your sadness is palpable. Thank you for sharing your experiences & some history of this strong country. Blessings to you & the suffering Ukranian population. 🌞🙏🌞

    • The past couple weeks has been such a sad, disheartening surprise for the world ~ such a special country of Ukraine and her people, rich in history and culture, being put to the test by Putin for reasons that are so outdated. Thank you very much, Lisa, for your kind words.

  32. Let’s hope in the interest of both sides, and the World worries, they may find a peaceful resolution to their conflict. ☮️

    • Yes, in the interest of the world, I hope that peace can arrive quickly to the wonderful land and wonderful people. Thank you ~

  33. 1000 MERCI! Thank you, Sir! and as Europeans, we all feel and are all Ukrainians… ❤

    • It has been shocking to see how a peaceful country has be transformed and thrown into such turmoil A country with such rich heritage and history, and this strength is showing within its population as the invasion continues. It is heartening to see the strong feelings of support and Europe (and the world) uniting with their brothers and sisters in Ukraine. Thank you very much, Melanie. Wishing you well.

  34. Hi Randall…what a wonderful post…tribute. I am heartsick! Thanks for sharing as it is important for people to understand.
    I hope you are well. Connecting in hearts…

    • Thank you very much, Lorrie ~ amid all this heartbreak of this invasion of Ukraine, it has given me (and the world) more insight into this country and its people and history. I like how you say connecting hearts, as this is what is happening around the globe and especially here in Europe. Wishing for a quick resolution and happier days ahead for all.

      • Amen! May the energies of peace and love transcend the darkness. Sweet Blessings, Randall.

  35. Thanks, Randall, for this paean on beautiful Ukraine and her people defined by good food, deep friendships and a love of nature. The present conflict is bound to cause widespread destruction and hardship but it cannot snuff out the stubborn will and fiercely independent spirit of Ukrainians. Ultimate victory will be theirs…

    • There is always a special feeling when able to share time within a foreign place with friends and good people. The beauty of Ukraine and pride of the people were always on display during my visits, and as you say their independent spirit and will cannot be defeated and they will have the ultimate victory. History has proven this to be the case, just hope there is not any more senseless heartbreak moving forward. Thank you Rajagopal, and wishing you well as we move into the spring. Take care.

  36. Lovely post Randall…and the pictures capture the beauty of the place and the people..hope the war ends soon and peace prevails. 💖💖

    • Ukraine is such a beautiful place ~ and through the wonders of global connections the country has built it is uplifting to see the world understand the wonders of the people and the culture. Thank you very much and wishing you well.

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