Maidan in Another Name

Chrystia Freeland writes to capture the essence of her once “least favorite Kiev Square”: Maidan (Freeland 167). After watching the Netflix Documentary, “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom”, reading that line took me back. The documentary gave raw footage and portrayed immense feelings of those who were unsettled by the wrongdoings of their government. Fear did not flow within their blood, only power and strength. As I read along, I was glad to see that later she found Maidan to be a “euphoric, almost sacred place”, upon understanding its rich history (175). If you look throughout history, and see “Maidan” as a place of freedom, perseverance, faith and truth against the odds, you will find many accounts that fit its description.

Knowing that a “subsidiary task” (MR 167) could turn into the “death” of another, yet still perform was a highlight within the Milgram Experiment. Experimenters granted two roles: teacher and subject. The experimenter gives the teacher a job that could lead to the death of a subject. Many proceeded, while others morally opted out, upon hearing the “screams” of the subject being “shocked. The question is: How far will our “possess[ion] [of the] capacity for obedience and compliance to a central idea… [be] at the expense of violat[ing] another [person’s] value” (162)? Will we let society break our responsibility as a human?

Combustible/Burn presented a story of going against those who state themselves to be in a “privileged position”(Silver 2.4). In an institution, city, state, and various churches, lurked a mean desire for segregation. Mac Bryan and his team of “Bryanites” were speaking on behalf of their moral convictions and the word of God to break down the racial barriers that were so strongly built. Doing this was quite unknown, seen as “disrespectful” and foul, but they knew what needed to be done. Whether it was speaking for justice or simply communing with mixed crowds, they made a change. Because of their need to see “human beings [living] in harmony together” they were able to initiate the integration of Mercer University, which trickled into the integration of various Bibb County schools (2.34).

To me, Aco is a true face of the people of Maidan. His care free nature, and willingness to not follow the “accepted” way, truly resonates among the characteristics of the Ukrainians. Aco, known as Aleksander Jetvic defied the ways of others. During his time, there was great conflict between the Serbs and Croats. In an roundup, he was called by his guard friend to point out a few unwanted people. Serbs were those who were to be selected. As Aco sifted through the men in the room, he began pulling both men of Croatian and Serbian descent, potentially leading them to a safe haven. Doing this was extremely dangerous, and could result in him losing his own Serbian life. A Serbian man helping Croatians? This was unheard of as well as never seen before. Because of his actions Aco was marked as having “great courage and humanity” (Press 72). He simply felt at peace because he knew that what he had done was right. Recognition for his acts meant nothing to him, only the duty towards mankind and God was of importance.

Each situation has shown  individuals who “personally [chose] freedom over safety,… find[ing] solidarity and courage and altruism in that collective choice” (Freeland 175). Each participant, was an Aco. Fearless- no “fear of being shot and killed… not [caring] what [their] peers and fellow citizens thought of [them] (Press 76). Who will be a dissenter like those in the Milgram Experiment? Who will be the radicals like those within Combustible/Burn yearning to “break down the walls of segregation” in a white-washed town/ (Silver 2.3)? First taking force my media, the Ukrainian people established a way of trafficking their movements and emotions. Protesting amongst the streets was no game to them- they believed it was necessary. Staying steady along a “quarter-century long struggle” (Freeland 170). Going against the odds, resisting a kleptocratic government with courage and dignity, and knowing that if there was no direct action now there would never be any change is what allowed those within the Maidan to stay afloat. Where is your Maidan?

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