Text by A.H. Scott, Copyright 2023
Man Of The Ages
“People speak sometimes about the “bestial” cruelty of man, but that is terribly unjust and offensive to beasts, no animal could ever be so cruel as a man, so artfully, so artistically cruel.” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Uncommon circumstances can bring about uncommon grace.
Would anyone have ever thought a person whose foremost vocation to make you laugh, would be one who could bring a tear to your eye and tug at your heart?
Would anyone have ever thought a person who took an oath of solemnity that was birthed from the genesis of an idea of democracy, would be the one to disintegrate that tenant of sobriety as if it were equated to a vessel of a condiment splattered against a wall?
I guess none of us would have ever thought it would turn out that the comedian would have the wisdom of a sage and the other would be the one jonesin’ for a delusional title of being a strongman.
Volodymr Zelenskyy is that figure of heroism, not because he beats his chest with a cartoonish sense of masculinity; but, a subdued strength that needn’t be promoted or boasted like a man bare-chested on horseback as the Russian peacock Putin has been while basting beneath the sun’s rays.
Man may meet history, as history may meet man.
When inaugurated on May 20th, 2019, the new President of Ukraine had no idea of the carnivore which stalked his path that revealed itself on July 25th of that year.
In that two month period, President Zelenskyy went from reforming the economy and judicial system of his government to being target of a shakedown by a thuggish Trump. Yeah, it was almost as if the head of a crime family were in the mode of saying ‘I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse’. Trump was mustering up his Don Corleone in the basest fashion for the newly minted President of Ukraine. Think about that, you are two months into your new administration and you are getting the bully-boy, business treatment from Trump in July.
That whole imbroglio was the first time that Volodymyr Zelenskyy had been misjudged as a leader, for he was not that of a weaker strain of confidence and courage to stand up to those seemingly on another plateau of power.
Well, that was the first mistake.
Second misjudgment arose as a bully on his border made the decision to make a brutal incursion into Ukraine. Nobody at that time would have thought Zelenskyy would have the stomach for the fight and just stand down, give up and head for safer parts unknown with his family.
He wasn’t weakening. He wasn’t giving up. In fact, as the days, weeks and months have passed by, it was almost like a super-charged version of Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing” pumping through his veins like a second wind of reigniting a resurgence of the Ukrainian essence of glory.
“Against all odds and doom and gloom scenarios, Ukraine did not fall. Ukraine is alive and kicking.” – President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, December 2022
Only a blank mind would concoct a blank check.
Cue Marjorie Taylor Greene. She pulls a very handy trope of foreign policy criticism when it comes to the funding which Ukraine is getting from the United States of America as for something which it is not.
Republican rumblings from the Putin-praising, MAGA-coven of the right wing where Marjorie Taylor Greene holds court has made no doubts about having an audit of every dollar, quarter, dime, nickel and penny which is part of the defense package sent to Ukraine.
In fact, with the ascendency of this congresswoman from Georgia flexing her political powers, she holds would be Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy’s shrunken intentions in the palm of her hand. With his diminished status in groveling to get to that 218 member vote to be propelled to the Speakership, the gentleman from California has debased himself so low that he’s scrounging for crumbs of approval from a person who boasts of Jewish space lasers interfering with the 2020 Presidential election.
But, in this moment, before the Republicans take control of the House of Representatives, I digress back to the Ukrainian people not asking for some kind of token or trinket of treasure from any taxpayer in the United States of America. Instead in the words of President Zelensky it is an investment that will stave off the spreading of Putin’s nihilistic strains further into Europe.
Democracy isn’t without cost. Whether it be blood, sweat, tears or funding, technical training, and upgraded weaponry.
Now, to the naysayers who think the Biden administration is doing too much to help a foreign country and that we should be focusing on all which happens on the shores of America; let me be a contrarian and turn that question about focusing upon what happens here in our country right back at you.
Much more than the majority of Republicans in the House of Representatives that are there right now are the same people who seem to have ignored, forgotten or just played along with the 3 monkeys of see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. But, then again, they are definitely the first ones to pipe up to criticize President Joe Biden, when a president with a R stamped on his rump could be considered the evil of that aforementioned monkey.
Ukrainian men and women are the warriors taking the battle to the invaders and occupiers of their land, thus from us they just need support in the form of weapons and funding to keep their government on a firmer footing to continue the fight for their homes, their lives and most importantly their future.
I bet if you go out onto the streets of America and ask how much defense spending and foreign aid the United States provides the rest of the world, many of us would be stumped. I know that I would be.
Yet, if there is a Pied Priestess chattering night and day about the wrongness of giving aid to whomever we consider ‘the other’ at this moment in history, then that’s just her riling up others in her right-wing universe. And, yeah, me as a fellow American could nod along and simplistically agree that we should cut off all funding beyond our borders. But, even myself, who is not a member of the Council on Foreign Relations or any other think-tank expert, would realize only an uncurious mind could dismiss the world on such a tiny scale of events.
Small-minded Marjorie and several other Republican politicians who hold office are almost playing a game of chicken in thinking they can traffic in Putin’s talking points and never get called on the carpet sooner or later. Well, Rep. Greene and all the others should realize that push has come to shove and the dividends of the investment in the spending we are sending to Ukraine has made a difference in pushing Putin’s army off of that land.
Bit by bit, town by town, kilometer by kilometer, the Ukrainian army is forcing the once touted Russian army into retreat.
“We never take weapons first. But if our home is attacked, we stand to the last. Because, losing its own state, any nation loses primarily not its territory. Not hectares or square kilometers of land or water. When a nation loses its own state, it loses its own face. Its’ own name. Its’ originality, identity, memory, and with them its heart and soul. And this is much scarier for us than enemy armies, planes, missiles and tanks.” – President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Character, can at certain moments be in some ways considered a non-consequential fluffing, a throwaway line used to pad a description of someone when times are good and everybody is living high on the hog with laughter and largesse given to close friends and acquaintances.
Thus, on the flipside, character reveals a human being’s core in those days, weeks, and continuing months when the starkest of reality and bitterest of tears are all which arises from a consuming darkness that has been cast upon the lives of yourself and everyone around you.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has proven himself, not just as wartime leader of the Ukrainian people or on the world stage in the fraught present, but, in the timeline of history that shall never be erased from book or verbal remembrance.
Man of the ages is whom Zelenskyy is, as his actions and words have exemplified an elevated courage, sobriety, and a thoughtful sense of a connective brilliance of communication to whomever he addresses beyond the borders of his homeland.
So, when Vladimir Putin dabbles in his usual double-speak about being ready to go to the negotiating table for some sort of ‘peace talks’ with Ukraine, it is coming from a man who set this horrible war of destruction in motion against his neighboring country. He doesn’t want peace at all. He wants capitulation. And, that sure as anything isn’t going to be happening, as long as the sky is blue and the sunflowers bloom.
Even using that word ‘peace’ is a mockery of the monstrous invasion that has been taking place since February 24th, 2022. Oh no, Vladdy, when an honest level of negotiation for a settlement of peace comes, it will not be at your behest or suggestion. It will be at the designation of those who have suffered under the harrowing boot of your tanks, bombs, and bloodthirsty soldiers you’ve sent to crush Ukraine to the earth.
The Ukrainian spirit is not that of a flimsy paper tiger which can be easily blown away and disintegrated by Putin’s tactics. For each and every Ukrainian, the fight is down to a sense of pride that is rooted deep within them. It may be Vladimir Putin’s war, but it is the Ukrainian heart that is going to be victorious in the battle.
“We will give our last shirt, we will give everything we have for what is in our heart. That is why we will fight for our statehood to the last – the last breath, the last bullet, the last soldier. Not ours, but the enemy’s. We will live to fight and fight to live. We will not give up until we drive the last occupier out of our home. We will not stop until we liberate the last meter of Ukrainian land. We will not rest until we liberate our last village, our last house, our last well, our last cherry tree, our last willow tree!” – President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Wednesday, December 21st, 2022 marked a momentous day for the both the Biden administration and Ukraine, as President Zelenskyy made his way out from his war-torn country for the first time since the Russian invasion began for a visit to the White House to meet with President Joseph Biden. Although a dangerous journey out of Ukraine and into Poland, the Ukrainian President made it safely onto the shores of America.
As the motorcade rolled onto the grounds of the White House, President Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden stood with smiles and anticipation in welcoming President Zelenskyy. Then, as the three of them greeted one another, it was the beginning of a monumental day for a man who had travelled far.
Not just physically from across the Atlantic, but from how he was seen by the world just a few years earlier when first elected to the presidency of Ukraine.
Questions about whether he was a stand-up type of guy swirled around him. And, I’m not talking about that of being a comedic stand-up; but, a man who could stand up to the pressures of his elected position, both internally and externally.
Zelenskyy brushed back innuendo and extortive measure from the former occupant of the White House, when it could have been so damned easy for him to just give in and go along to get along. But, that is not the character of the man that is the Ukraine President.
He held firm, he stood up and got the javelin missiles, other weaponry and funding which had been promised to his country in prior years. From that point onward, Zelenskyy had to keep one eye on the consistent Russian threat which Vladimir Putin remained to Ukraine over the years.
Then in February 2022, Putin’s threats became an invasive action across the border to take over Ukraine for his own lust for land and power.
President Zelenskyy is not only a participant in the present period of history but, an astute student of it.
Echoes of history are not something abstract which cannot be grasped by those of us in the present, if one stills their minds and actually absorbs the words of the past.
If we are lucky, we learn the lessons from events laid out before us. If we are careless, reckless, and bent on blindness, then our fortunes will be that of dissolving before our eyes.
Eight decades earlier, Winston Churchill’s 1941 speech to Congress had that same common touch of connection to the audience for which he so eloquently spoke to:
“I may confess, however, that I do not feel quite like a fish out of water in a legislative assembly where English is spoken. I am a child of the House of Commons. I was brought up in my father’s house to believe in democracy. “Trust the people.” That was his message. I used to see him cheered at meetings and in the streets by crowds of workingmen way back in those aristocratic Victorian days when as Disraeli said “the world was for the few, and for the very few. Therefore I have been in full harmony all my life with the tides which have flowed on both sides of the Atlantic against privilege and monopoly and I have steered confidently towards the Gettysburg ideal of government of the people, by the people, for the people.” – Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister, 1941
For both of these foreign heads of state, each of them knew the power of the words they spoke and the words they chose to utter. Speeches come and go, as the stream of letters are strung together to create a lovely tapestry of words. But, the way a word can be chosen and whom the sentence is being brought forth to has a way of ascending a message from another human being regardless of accent or an interpretation of one’s non-native tongue.
As from Churchill in 1941 making a nod of commiseration to that 272 word principle of Lincoln, Zelenskyy reached back in a figurative tip of a bowler hat in reverence to Winston.
Cyclical is history, as it has a way of going around and coming around to remind us all of the faulty temperament, avarice, and wicked intent of mankind.
In 1943’s second speech before Congress, the British Prime Minister laid out in blunt terms the level of the struggle which was faced during the war:
“I do not intend to be responsible for any suggestion that the war is won or that it will soon be over. That it will be won by us I am sure. But how and when cannot be foreseen, still less foretold. By singleness of purpose, by steadfastness of conduct, by tenacity and endurance, such as we have so far displayed, by these, and only by these, can we discharge our duty to the future of the world and to the destiny of man”. – Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister, 1943
And, to the destiny of man in the year 2022, it falls upon the strong, yet weary shoulders of a leader and his fellow countrypersons who did not seek the fight before them; but, is steadfast in focusing upon the unstoppable power of unity in freedom’s vision.
“We stand, we fight and we will win. Because we are united. Ukraine, America and the entire free world.”– President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
44-year old Volodymyr Zelenskyy has outwitted 70-year old Vladimir Putin with his ability to survive and thrive beyond anything which the Russian could have ever imagined. Not understanding his younger opponent or the fellow citizens of the country he invaded, the old bear has gotten a bitter lesson in the will of humanity.
We always hear in war and conflict about blood and treasure. Well, for the Ukrainians, it is blood which is treasure. It is the land which is treasure. It is the lineage, the bloodline, the ancestry of centuries which is treasure. Now, with the defensive weaponry they are able to use to beat back Putin’s missionaries of misery, he will know how utterly inadequate he is in calculating an easy mark for defeat. Ukraine is not a pop-stand that a bully can just come along and knock over and take over in a snap of a finger or a pithy pronouncement of a ‘special military operation’.
Putin had Zelenskyy in his sights to be taken out immediately as the February invasion began, but never figured the former comedian would truly have the last laugh at remaining vigilant and inside of Ukraine instead of heading out of that country like a scared child on the run. President Zelenskyy is steadfast in his loyalty to the people and the land of Ukraine.
“They want to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying the head of state” – President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, February 26th, 2022
Zelenskyy has proven himself to be a statesman, while Putin has proven himself a pariah.
With some in the Pro-Putin Caucus of the Republican party, there asinine antics of attempting to demean and belittle President Zelenskyy at each and every turn has gone so deep in the rabbit hole that I don’t think there is a retrieval to some sort of half-baked foreign policy coherency in the strain of conservatism for many a decade to come.
Adoration for Viktor Orban of Hungary and Putin of Russia is where some of the most whacked out mentality of the conservatives reside.
Even as President Zelenskyy arrived at the White House and exited to shake hands with the Bidens, the clap-trap of cynicism was off and running. Oh, why isn’t he dressed properly in a suit? And, later when he was in the White House seated across from President Biden, that simmering snarky commentary about him not wearing a suit continued.
Tucker Carlson’s low-brow swipe at Zelenskyy being ‘dressed like the manager of a strip club’ was stomach turning from a man who wouldn’t know the meaning of the words sacrifice and honor, even if it jumped up, twisted his bow tie, and bit him on his wallet.
Listen up, people!! He wasn’t doing some kind of fashion show in Paris, Milan, or New York.
He was dressed more than appropriately befitting a man who is in the middle of a hellish battle. He wasn’t on a performance mission for the fashion industry. President Zelenskyy revealed his character in what he was wearing to Washington, DC to the White House and in his speech before Congress. By the way, it isn’t his wardrobe that made the President of Ukraine worthy of being heard, for it was his message of faith, steely will, and the fighting spirit of victory that was his calling card of style.
This wasn’t a time for Armani, Valentino, Versace, Blass, Lauren, or any tailored fare of Savile Row. For those who sniped so snidely, this was not a moment for the dressing down of a man’s attire, but the dressing up of a vision of our mutual values.
“Our two nations are Allies in this battle. And next year will be a turning point. The point, when Ukrainian courage and American resolve must guarantee the future of our common freedom. The freedom of people, who stand for their values.” – President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, December 2022
In his subdued hued sweater and matching pants, the President of Ukraine exhibited his camaraderie with the men and women whom he leads on the frontlines of his country that are at battle against the occupiers in the midst of crimes against humanity and constant destruction of their land.
Like we all should know that history didn’t begin the moment we were born, or the moment we became aware. It existed in ways many of us might not have any real grasp of. Yet, it is that history of Ukraine in decades prior that comes to the surface right now.
Many may wonder why is it that Ukraine is so important geographically and strategically, and why should Americans care.
When the Soviet Union dissolved in the early 1990’s and Ukraine was among the countries under the USSR’s influence that gained its’ independence, there was something that the world took note of.
Ukraine had quite a sizable arsenal of nuclear weapons that were not under an orderly containment. In exchange for eliminating its’ arsenal of those loose weapons of destruction, Ukraine came under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as a nonnuclear-weapon State, which afforded them promises that were to be kept by other signatories.
This treaty became known as the Budapest Memorandum and was signed on December 5th, 1994 by the United States of America, The Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Within the memorandum are six vows which remain applicable today. Here is a brief overview of all six affirmations; number one (respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine), number two (refrain from threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine), number three (refrain from economic coercion designed to subordinate to their own interest), number five (affirm not to use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear-weapon state), number six (the signatories will consult in the event a situation arises which raises a question concerning these commitments).
Of course, you’ve noticed there is no description for number four. That’s because it is the real kicker and gut-punch of all six points that encapsulates the situation at hand:
4. The United States of America, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, reaffirm their commitment to seek immediate United Nations Security Council action to provide assistance to Ukraine, as a non-nuclear-weapon
State Party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, if Ukraine should become a victim of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used.
The United States of America always says that it will stand by its’ word. And, yes, the signing of the Budapest Memorandum is the affirmation which is a promise we made on maintaining Ukraine’s independence and assistance from being a victim of aggression.
Thus, the Biden Administration’s aid package to Ukraine is not some hippie-dippie, doe-eyed, bleeding heart liberal, kumbaya fantasyland, but, a clear-minded investment of matured integrity of assistance to a people thousands of miles away who are willing and ready to take the fight to the army of Vladimir Putin.
Oh, and by the way, for those who are skeptical of not providing any array of weaponry and defense systems that are being sent overseas in this latest package of aid never being worth it; let me lay out the reality which would come to bear if Article 5 of NATO’s charter is breached any time soon.
Now, for those who don’t want to give Ukraine a penny, just think about Russia incurring beyond Ukraine and into Poland, which is a country that falls under Article 5 protection that we, the United States of America would have to send our troops over to Europe to defend against Putin.
So, either Ukraine fights Russia on their soil, or we send our men and women at a later date and time across the Atlantic.
As for the geographical aspect of the importance of Ukraine, it is Putin’s dream of creating that land-bridge of Meriopol and Crimea that would allow Russia a direct stronghold at the Southern border of Ukraine.
That would wipe out all the land that the Ukrainians have clawed back during these hard-fought months. Getting an upper hand on Putin’s army is what it’s all about for maintaining the path to banishing the occupiers for finality.
“All stages of the history of Ukrainian statehood can be described in one sentence: we existed, exist and will exist!” – President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Man of The Ages (A Poem Dedicated To The Ukrainian Spirit)
Man of the ages
Ages of the man
Life never goes as planned
Events come like that out of the blue
Yellow sunflower blooms by the spring of our steps in youth
Our hearts beat in a march of dedication to our ancestors
Beneath our feet we never retreat
A stranger can stomp through our dirt
But, our roots run so deep that our souls are ingrained within it like seeds
We shall flourish, as we always have
Never will this land be taken away
It is in our blood and forever will stay
Beyond a breeze of petals, strength of our unity is as one
Man of the ages now has come
Never sought out for that role which is of now, or on a personal quest
Yet, the man who stands before us is the best
Servant of the People
Man of the people
Man of the moment
Man of the ages
President of the Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Glory to Ukraine!
“Man of The Ages”
“MAN OF THE AGES” Footnotes:
1.-Video Of Zelenskyy Speech To Congress – NBC News
2.-Marjorie Taylor Greene Attacks Plans For Ukraine’s President to Visit Congress – Business Insider
3.-Marjorie Taylor Greene Unveils Resolution to Audit Ukraine Aid Funds – The Hill
4.-Address by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on the Occasion of Ukrainian Statehood Day – Office of Ukraine President
5.-Churchill Speech To Congress (December 1941) – British Pathé
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A.H. Scott is a poet and essayist based in New York City and is a veteran contributor to this blog. To access additional articles by A.H. Scott, click here: https://tonyward.com/quality-control/