Saturday, 7 December 2013

Politely Speaking or Civil Disobedience

this baran-shaped figure is use as a wine jug,
good for pouring
From my warm chair overlooking the snow-drifted yard I marvel at the huge buck on Nose Hill, his horns rising in supremacy over the tall grasses, now snowy white, sitting in regal dignity among his harem of docile consorts. What tenacious life force holds them there on this cold wintry day?

Another image comes to mind, the million and more throng of protesters lining the broad streets in Kyiv, drinking tea and sharing companionship to stay warm. Intentionally calm and resilient in their third week of civil disobedience of course they are risking punishment from the powers that be.  Their remarkable mutuality of purpose enabled by the unprecedented immediacy of social media releases is disarming.  The Ukrainian citizenry's seeming diversity of opinion has coalesced into a very special and powerful force.  Emotions are high but restrained.  This protest movement is striking, even at a distance. Some have wisely observed the incongruence of 'organized' participants whose actions seem highly and unnecessarily provocative. Indignant confirmations of at least one fatality, and multiple applications of prison sentences for demonstrators, are being shared widely on social media, inflaming emotions further.

At issue is opportunity.  Regular Ukrainian people have lived with a legacy of lost opportunities, of treacherous, and deceitful last minute 'deals' which led to impoverishing conditions, both economic and cultural, for some hundreds of years. Recent negotiations with the EU gave rise to hopes of improved opportunities, although it seems the lessons of history seem to be attempting a reprise.

Subjugated to landlords in the 16th and 17th centuries, Ukrainian people were held in economic, judicial and personal servitude, requiring tribute, rent and labour as payment.  People's arduous work created wealth for the landlords, while they themselves lived in poverty.  While official serfdom was abolished in Russian dominated Ukrainian lands in the mid-late 19th century, it was a brief respite because upon Soviet intervention, retreating from a market based economy deprived urban craftspeople for markets, and deprived them of social and economic structures - they performed service to the empire.  Of course profits accrued for the empire, but not quickly enough.  The collectivization of farms created financial opportunity for the regime who created for the international world an illusion of wealth, at the expense of the labourers who remained in poverty, or worse.

Independence opened the door to capitalism for some who accumulated wealth beyond imagination while most stalwartly acculturated to new times, accustomed to privation.  But with less than seven generations separation from the agrarian life lessons of their ancestry, folk wisdom may still course through their veins. And it knows no linguistic bounds - it is international.  Gargantuan appetites have been mentioned in cheeky folk tales too, so I hope you enjoy a read of the traditional English folk song, The Derby Ram!

As I was going to Derby, upon a market day, I saw the biggest ram, Sir, that was ever fed with hay. 
The ram was fat behind, Sir, the ram was fat before.He measured ten yards round,Sir,I think it was no more. 
The wool grew on his back, Sir, it reached to the sky. And there the eagles built their nests. I heard the young ones cry.
The wool grew on his belly, Sir, and reached to the ground.'Twas sold in Derby town, Sir, for forty thousand pounds. 
The wool upon his tail, Sir, filled more than fifty bags.You had better keep away, Sir, when that tail shakes and wags. 
The horns upon his head, Sir, were as high as a man could reach. And there they built a pulpit, Sir, the Quakers for to preach. 
The mutton that the ram made, gave the whole army meat. And what was left, I'm told, Sir, was served out to the fleet. 
Oh, as I was going to Derby, upon a market day, I saw the biggest ram, Sir, that was ever fed with hay.

Post a Comment