“Freedom is not simply the absence of tyranny or oppression. Nor is freedom a license to do whatever we like. Freedom has an inner "logic" which distinguishes it and ennobles it: freedom is ordered to the truth, and is fulfilled in man's quest for truth and in man's living in the truth.” — John Paul II, UN, 1995
The eyes of the entire world are on Ukraine now. Its president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has recently stressed: “The struggle against Russian aggression is a battle for our freedom, but also for yours. This is the common history of great nations.”
In this sense, the Russian invasion of Ukraine obligates not only European countries but the whole world with a “historical mission” to protect Europe from threats and military conflicts in the future.
Ukrainian’s fight for liberty is a fight for the nature of Europe and for Western civilization built on the respect for human rights, human dignity and national sovereignty. In their resistance to the Russian dictatorship, the Ukrainians demonstrate their strength stemming from the fundamental values by which they live and to which they wish to remain faithful.
Today Ukraine, and tomorrow …? Who’s next?
We have a compass to guide us in these perilous times. In his U.N. speech, in 1979, Pope John Paul II cautioned us about “war in the more complex forms emanating from injustice viewed in all its various aspects: this injustice first attacks human rights and thereby destroys the organic unity of the social order and it then affects the whole system of international relations.”
Indeed, war is always a defeat for humanity. The war is an attack on human freedom. Therefore, in his speech to diplomats on January 13, 2003, ahead of the Iraq war, the Polish Pope admonished his audience: “International law, honest dialogue, solidarity between States, the noble exercise of diplomacy: these are methods worthy of individuals and nations in resolving their differences.” Following the Pope’s thoughts, there is a hope for Ukraine.
Ukraine is fighting for freedom, one of the most powerful forces of history. It is also the measure of man’s dignity and his greatness.
In 1995 John Paul II expressed himself before the United Nations thus: “This phenomenon [of freedom] is not limited to any one part of the world; nor is it the expression of any single culture. Men and women throughout the world, even when threatened by violence, have taken the risk of freedom, asking to be given a place in social, political and economic life which is commensurate with their dignity as free human beings. This universal longing for freedom is truly one of the distinguishing marks of our time.”
Freedom is truth. It is based on the truth about man and on wisdom and virtue, as well as spiritual strength, which is expressed in the words and actions of soldiers of various independence movements all over the world. Poland lives by the byword: “for our freedom and yours.”
Tadeusz Kosciuszko and Casimir Pulaski were perhaps first Poles to embody this slogan in the 18th century. They traveled to the United States to fight for our freedom in the War for Independence. They believed the victory of American freedom fostered freedom everywhere.
Current history provides ample and dramatic evidence of the evil use of free choice, understood as a license to kill, by Russia against Ukraine. Leaders of Imperial Russia not only deny the Ukrainian people their right to freedom and to self-determination, but also to their own history and culture. Thus, they violate inalienable rights of the Ukrainian people.
Military conflicts have their source in the rapine of the rights of nations. Various ideologies and interests conspire toward this dastardly end. The pursuit of narrow self-interest by countries trigger political cleavages and economic dependence.
Praying for peace in Ukraine, we beg not only for the cessation of hostilities but also for justice and freedom in Ukraine and the entire world. Ukrainian’s liberty is akin to our own.
In his recent speech to the U.S. Congress, President Zelenskyy stated:
Peace in your country doesn’t depend any more only on you and your people. It depends on those next to you and those who are strong. Strong doesn’t mean big. Strong is brave and ready to fight for the life of his citizens and citizens of the world. Of human rights for freedom, for the right to live decently and to die when your time comes and not when it is wanted by someone else, by your neighbor. Today, the Ukrainian people are defending not only Ukraine, we are fighting for the values of Europe and the world, sacrificing our own lives in the name of the future. That’s why today, the American people are helping not just Ukraine, but Europe and the world to keep the planet alive, to keep justice in history.
The heroically fighting Ukrainian nation, which defends its right to sovreignty, serves as a moral compass for the rest of the world. The Ukrainian struggle demonstrates amply that there are values, morals, and principles that must be always defended and are worth dying for.
Principal among them is freedom, which needs to be protected in solidarity by all in the name of truth and love.
Monika Jablonska is an author of "Wind from Heaven: John Paul II, The Poet Who Became Pope." She is a lawyer and a literary scholar living in Washington D.C. Read Monika's Reports — More Here.
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