Simon O'CorraJun 23, 2022
As in other conflicts, we currently witness the unfolding of suffering in Ukraine that does not seem to end and we cannot stop.
Alexandra Xanthaki, Special Rapporteur on cultural rights, United Nations.
Throughout this seemingly endless conflict, Ukraine has responded with dignity and determination to the devastation of its cultural heritage. Despite the Russian assaults on cultural and religious landmarks, the Ukrainian people still fiercely resist every attempt by Vladimir Putin to break them.
This does not mean that the people are not shaken. Of course they are, given the severity of Russia's attacks on the country's cultural infrastructure. But with various projects underway to salvage cultural buildings and artefacts, and to present live performances arts despite the shelling and bombing of the country's major cities and towns, a strong resilience is apparent everywhere.
The paradoxes in this conflict are mystifying. An orthodox religion destroying its own church buildings, and therefore its own standing in Ukraine? How can this be? People know the difference between war and the rampant illegality of the invader. How can Russia be destroying the homeland of the Russian-speaking peoples in the East, when they say this invasion is to free them? These contradictions are daily compounded by the wanton violence on the part of the invading forces. Particularly hard hit are the houses of religion.
It's a kind of nightmare, I cannot find any words to describe this. It's horrible, it's unhuman. I don't know why Russian troops shoot at churches - if we're Christians we should care about peace.
Sergiy Berezhnoy, a Kyiv priest from the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. BBC website 31st March 2022.
Before and after shots of the destruction of Volnovakha's Temple of the Orthodox Church
The picture above clearly shows the targeted destruction of the church. This is no random bombing, or the result of shelling gone awry. How are the priests and congregations of these historic houses of worship expected to feel about this purposeful annihilation?
Sergiy Berezhnov's response is to continue to hold small services in his Kyiv church in the midst of continuing attacks. Despite the horror and disbelief, he still holds out hope and instills this in his flock.
However powerful the Ukrainian psyche appears to the outside, nevertheless, a public health crisis is unfolding as this conflict continues with no visible end in sight.
Every child caught up in the conflict in eastern Ukraine is now thought to be in need of psychosocial support and almost half a million children are now facing grave risks to their physical and mental wellbeing.
Children of course are often the hardest hit, at such times, although their underdeveloped cognizance can assist them in some ways, from completely recognizing the import of the invasion, except in terms of their own and their family's safety. Some would say that the loss of many heritage buildings might not affect them quite so badly as the destruction to their homes, schools and social infrastructures. But we cannot discount the terrible effect on older people, when it comes to the killing of so many, and particularly the destruction of their cultural edifices, ones they have been used to for many years. We all can, I am sure recognize the horror that the priest has for what the Russians are doing to his country and his working and spiritual environment.
Ukrainian people are hard-working in achieving their goals, family-oriented, distrustful to strangers, thrifty in everyday matters, but liking to show off when in public, practical in everyday life, but sentimental about their dreams for the future. They may be cold with unknown people, but very kind with family and friends. Ukrainians are usually intolerant of any arrogance and sarcastic about people in power. They prefer living their own private lives and rarely confront a stronger authority in an open way, but when they do, their ability for self-organization is unexpectedly high.
One can see with this description from a Ukrainian blogger just how obvious it is that the Ukrainian people are resilient and determined in their approach to resolving the issues raised by the invasion and cultural devastation of their country. They are fighting for their very and total existence, and each setback fires them up even more, rather than weakening their resolve. The Russians have clearly failed in their desire to take over the whole of Ukraine, and let this be a warning to them for the future when the world will demand reparations.
Simon O'Corra has been a creative since childhood, working in theatre and film and also as a designer and artist. He now combines all these skills to write monologues, duologues, short and feature films and plays. He also has experience in the following: copywriting, research, mind mapping and brainstorming, script editing and mentoring. Simon is a people's person and is a great networker. He currently has a range of short and feature films in development and plays also awaiting production dates post-Covid.