In times of economic hardship, malicious societal transgressions, or war, it is sometimes difficult to assess in real-time whether any given moment, no matter how dramatic, is truly culturally or historically significant. By air, land, and sea, Russia has launched a devastating attack on Ukraine, a European democracy of 44 million people. Its forces are bombing city centers and closing in on the capital, Kyiv, prompting a mass exodus of refugees.
During times such as these, the people who are suffering, are looking towards a leader who can guide them out of what seems like an endless abyss of despair and anguish. On the evening of Feb.25, two days into the Russian invasion of his country, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stood beside his senior staff in a capital under fire, and recorded the simple video below which said:
“Good evening to you all. The head of government is here. The head of the president’s office is here. Prime Minister Shmyhal is here. Adviser Podoliak is here. The president is here. Our soldiers are here. Our citizens are here. We are all defending our independence—our country—and it will stay that way. Glory to the men and women defending us. Glory to Ukraine. Glory to the heroes.”
Despite the capital in Ukraine being under attack, despite the threats that have been posed on his life, Zelensky has not waivered on his promise to stand with his country. In the words of David Fench from “The Dispatch”: It is one thing to say “I will lead you,” while fleeing for safety; it is another thing entirely to say, “I am with you,” while demonstrating it by putting your life on the line.
As dire as these circumstances are, I find it overwhelmingly refreshing being able to witness actual courage displayed by President Zelensky.. He is rallying his people, telling them to stand up, not roll over in the face of adversity. In an article published by the New York Times, in a Ukrainian Presidential Press Service, President Zelensky is encouraging his people to defend their beloved country:
“Every Ukrainian needs to remember one thing — if you can stop and destroy the occupiers — do it!” he said. “Anyone who can return to Ukraine, come back to defend Ukraine.”
He added: “Everyone can defend Ukraine from abroad, do it ceaselessly, persistently and together. All friends of Ukraine who want to join the defense — come. We will give you a weapon.”
Even though it may be too soon to raise this comparison, I am compelled to reference Sir Winston Churcill. As I stated in my book Generation Z The Sleeping Giant Awakens We Have The Power, Churchill was a multifaceted giant who rose from the depths of obscurity to lead Great Britain out of the clutches of Adolf Hitler. But before his ascension to greatness, Churchill made a bad decision in World War I that prompted him to leave the political arena for over a decade. Despite his checkered past, he got the most important thing right during WWII- and it’s the same thing that Zelensky is doing right in this current moment- when evil comes knocking at your national door, you don’t shy away from it, you stand against it.
Who would have thought that the once stand-up comedian would be leading a charge to freedom.
I stand with Ukraine and its people.
We Are Gen Z