Culture

America Praises Ukraine For The Same Virtues It Demonizes At Home

By Ramsha Afridi··  5 min read
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The world’s attention has been consumed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine is the largest conventional military attack since World War II.

The conflict continues to rage and intensify as hours go by, with the Russian state proceeding with stronger military action. Vladimir Putin has even threatened the possibility of using its nuclear capabilities by putting his nuclear force on high alert

It is the deadliest crisis Europe has witnessed since 1945, and ultimately, we remain on the brink of a global disaster, if Russia does not rapidly de-escalate. 

As misery abounds, many political analysts and commentators have set their sights on the issue, covering the crisis from a geopolitical perspective. However, many have failed to examine the war from a deeper, philosophical angle. 

The Ukrainian Conflict Reminds Us What Values Are Actually Important

The establishment and cultural elites in much of the Western world have spent the last few years obsessing over identity politics and woke platitudes. In fact, preserving the culture, history, and identity of nations has been ignored if not outright attacked over the last decade. Patriotism has been long mocked; over the last few years, we’ve seen headlines such as “The Long View: Why liberals should abandon patriotism” and “Why every statue should come down.” 

Ironically, many of the virtues, which our cultural elites have been somewhat “demonizing” at home, such as self-defense, patriotism, love for national identity and culture, are now being celebrated abroad for Ukraine. The UK's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra recently opted to show their support for Ukraine by performing the Ukrainian national anthem at Royal Albert Hall in London, England. Even though masculinity is dubbed as “toxic” in our contemporary culture today, President Zelensky is being praised for his masculinity and bravery. Ukrainian fighters and citizens are also being applauded as global heroes for their sacrifice to preserve the sovereignty of their country.

Patriotism, self-sacrifice, and bravery have long been acknowledged as some of civilization’s greatest virtues.

Patriotism, self-sacrifice, bravery – these have long been acknowledged as some of civilization’s greatest virtues. You only need to take rudimentary lessons from history to understand the sheer brutality of war and what human beings have had the capacity to endure.

The Ukrainian war should be a wake-up call for much of the Western world. The virtues we praise in Ukraine are the same virtues that historically were the bedrock of Western civilization. We need a resurgence of these virtues – and praise for them – here at home as well.

The Ukrainian war should urge us to focus on the important, meaningful things, and examine our lives – not to just live them better, but to see a better path through times of crisis. We also need to shift our cultural focus from trivial matters such as obsessive identity politics and virtue signaling and focus on what really matters, our old cultural norms and values that have been of extraordinary importance to human civilization.

We Should Be Guided by Wisdom, Not Emotions

We now live in an age of immense comfort, safety, and abundance. The West has some of the highest standards of living in the world and human life is significantly better today than it ever has been. 

Our relatively peaceful, stable part of the world, which for at least half a century has been untouched by war, has a culture that demands we focus on feelings and emotions, rather than logical analysis, wisdom, and common sense. 

Our modern institutions now have “safe spaces” to protect people after their claims of "victimhood" at the slightest pushback against their arguments. This is all while engaging in meaningless gestures such as canceling Dostoevsky and culturally expelling Russian art and literature from the social fabric of our society. 

Our feelings-obsessed culture means we often react emotionally, not rationally.

Whatever the Russian government is doing right now in Ukraine is deeply horrific, not to mention illegal. But anyone who has studied Dostoevsky knows that he is the complete opposite of Putin’s regime in values, morals, and ideas. Censoring his work, which was published over a century ago, is at best virtue signaling and at worst, an erasure of some of the greatest works of literature in history.

The truth is that we need to get back in touch with how the real world works. Our society lacks nuance and substance, and we no longer deeply analyze a situation before making comments on it. Our feelings-obsessed culture leaves us reacting emotionally and shortsightedly, influenced by today's sound byte about the war.

Now is the time for deep introspection, to reconnect with our lost wisdom. Stoicism, courage, rationality, and fortitude were all attributes embraced by our past leaders for much of Western history, all of which we now seem to have forgotten.

Closing Thoughts

Purpose and meaning are the underlying features of a healthy society, and it’s high time we recognize this fact before it's too late – otherwise, we could be in real trouble during a time of crisis.

As the famous Roman philosopher Seneca said, “Life is very short and anxious for those who forget the past, neglect the present, and fear the future.”

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