The Thing About Revolutions
At least one of the presidential candidates in this American election cycle is calling for a revolution. Having lived through one recently, I hesitate to recommend them. Revolutions tend to tie up traffic, leave a lot of broken glass, and the rubber bullets hurt (and real ones kill). In general they’re hard on a country, and we’re still cleaning up (at least economically) from ours There is one thing that revolutions do well however, and that’s unite people.
Often that unity comes in the form of opposition. In our case that opposition was to a crooked president, an unjust system, and a corrupt government. Ukraine endured revolution that caused shut downs, hurt the economy, and killed people for these very reasons; the protesters looked forward to a new Ukraine with a new justice and a new fight against corruption.
Fast forward two years.
Now the revolution in Ukraine is over, it has its own Netflix documentary and Wikipedia page, and has become, in more ways than one, history. In the years since, there have been some signs of progress; the old president is hiding in the country next door and isn’t welcome back, a number of money laundering banks have been closed, and a new police force has been hired that promises to be professional and not bribe-friendly; but many feel that’s not enough, the reasons for revolt still exist.
Not that the changes haven’t come far enough or fast enough, but rather many feel their hope was misplaced in the new system and the new president. There has yet to be indictments for those involved in the crimes of the past and there seems to be a lack of real fight against the endemic corruption. Some are now calling for a revolution do-over, while others are saying that more Molotov cocktails won’t help, but either way there is a deep and widespread frustration. Add to that a war, which took everyone by surprise (the joke here now is that Russia has cut its defense spending, but leaving attack spending intact), the possibility that what started in the East will grow (a recent demonstration at the Ukrainian embassy in Moscow demanded that Ukrainians get out of "our” – Russia’s – Kiev) and the skyrocketing prices (electricity just went up 25%) and the recipe that produced the unrest two years ago seems like yesterday.
Herein lies the crux. Earthy justice and truth is good, heavenly justice and truth is better. Working toward these goals in any country (maybe especially Ukraine) is a hard and laborious task, and may seem unattainable. Working toward these goals in any person (maybe especially ourselves) is a hard and laborious task as well, but is attainable only with outside help. This is where the work of the church (our work here) comes in. We have seen the church pick up where government leaves off. Countries can’t have revolutions every few years, it’s impractical (reference the traffic, glass, and bullets) but the desire toward and hope for the ideals is good, but must originate in something higher.
The Wikipedia page I referred to calls Ukraine’s 2014 revolution the "Revolution of Dignity”. Where does the idea of dignity come from? Not to mention the ideas of justice, truth, compassion, peace? We all demand them in our governments and societies, and desire them in ourselves, but reality in government and in the mirror fall short. The hope comes only from God who can provide it in us, and through us to society.
Pray for Ukrainians that their hope in government would stay alive thanks to the hope more and more hear about each Sunday. Pray that fatalism would not take the place of anticipation of a heavenly kingdom. Pray that this, the church’s message, would be received, and the Christ’s revolution that begins in each person would find it’s way to society…and even to government.