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Stand Up For Ukraine

How Zelenskyy continues to keep Ukrainians' morale high and why it's important if he wants to defeat Russia.

By Outrageous Optimism Published 2 years ago 6 min read
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Stand Up For Ukraine
Photo by Max Kukurudziak on Unsplash

In all the years that we humans have graced this planet with our presence, there has been one constant that seems to follow us wherever we go… war. Even when we speak of peace, the routes which we plot out to get there can often be considered an offensive strategy – peace by force, whether you like it or not. We trudge onward, leaving a trail of destruction in our wake. At times it feels almost impossible to go on, the relentless stream of bad news becoming overbearing, willing us to switch off and stop paying attention. It is imperative that we keep paying attention.

In current times there is a gruesome war waging between Russia and Ukraine. One that has horrified the world. Around the globe, at any given time, there are several other wars going on; whether these be overt wars or ones that have slipped under the radar of the global news. When Vladimir Putin first began his offensive strategy against Ukraine, he did so under the radar. Even when it was becoming blatantly clear to the world that the Russian president was invading the Ukraine, articles which circulated social media from Russian sources, at first, denied it was even happening. If Putin had had it his way, we would still all be none the wiser about what is going on. It is imperative that we keep paying attention.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, came to be the president of the Ukraine by quite an unusual route. Rather than following down a typical political pathway, his previous career was in the entertainment industry. He had an acting career, later became a comedian and built up a thriving production company. Prior to any of this, Zelenskyy had also studied and obtained a degree in Law.

It was the last day of 2018 when he announced his candidacy in the Ukrainian presidential election, promising to tackle corruption and to end the ongoing tensions between Ukraine and Russia present at the time. His optimism was such that when tensions escalated in 2021 between the two countries, Zelenskyy took a peaceful approach, claiming that his administration was not seeking to retaliate. Unfortunately, aggressive administrations often take this sort of response to be a show of weakness. Around February time 2022, it became clear to all that Russia had launched a full-scale invasion on the Ukraine.

Sometimes, despite having all of the optimism and positive outlooks in the world, you still cannot stop an impending catastrophe waiting around the corner from coming into your life. What really matters next, is what you do with that new knowledge.

When Russia invaded Ukraine, Zelenskyy could’ve shrunk and done nothing or denied what was happening to avoid having egg on his face. He could’ve easily fled the office, revealing that everything he had promised in the 2019 election were just empty words. Instead, he jumped into action, declaring martial law across the country and mobilising armed forces. Russian soldiers were initially blindsided by the sheer strength and determination of both the Ukrainian soldiers and ordinary citizens as they had been led to believe that Ukraine would be an easy takeover.

There may seem to be no place for optimism in a war. The very act of war itself shows complete and utter disregard for human life. When faced with something so overtly evil, you would be forgiven for feeling as if all hope for humanity has long been lost. However, it is precisely in the times of war that optimism (with a healthy dose of realism) is needed to boost morale and keep us all going. Boosting morale during what may be some of the darkest times for Ukraine is what Zelenskyy has been incredibly good at.

As someone who is also a part of the entertainment industry (as Zelenskyy used to be), it doesn’t surprise me that the man is very well-versed in crafting a positive image for himself and his country. The way your country is viewed, both by your allies and your rivals is of the utmost importance. How your country portrays itself to the world goes hand in hand with the propaganda that often comes out in times of conflict. Your country’s worldwide longstanding image will either help or hinder its citizens at times when disinformation can be rampant.

Instead of running away, Zelenskyy ensured he kept up communication with his citizens. He didn’t infantilise them with pretty words, instead, discussing the bare bones of the situation as it is and arming them with both the knowledge and the weapons to defend themselves. He communicates additionally through his own social media pages, helping to cut through the noise, and at times, heavily produced/edited news cycles to ensure that he is in control of his own message to the world. Consistently posting to social media (a space which has become in recent years, somewhere for change and growth), has helped keep Ukraine fresh in the mind of those of us around the world.

Whereas Putin has seemed to turn in on himself, Zelenskyy hasn’t been afraid to ask for help. It’s the sign of a good leader when they can put their ego aside and realise that not everything is about them. An insecure leader might put on a show of aggression, refusing help from anyone around them. Conversely, Zelenskyy has shown that he will put the lives of his citizens first no matter what, rallying allies, and demanding that they don’t remain passive to this atrocious series of events. There is a reason that the Russian administration is trying so hard to isolate Ukraine. There is nothing meek or damsel-in-distress like about admitting help is needed. Garnering help from other countries shows a pragmatic and proactive approach to the situation at hand. A healthy dose of realism combined with a contagious optimism tells the Ukrainian citizens that they are not suffering through this alone.

Not only are countries around the world sanctioning Russian entities (albeit not enough), but they’re also involved in sending aid in the form of food, weapons and medical supplies. Some of the biggest charities across the globe are raising money for Ukraine, with Europe recently raising over €9 billion for refugees. A global pledging event called “Stand Up for Ukraine” raised over $11 billion for the country. Even Vocal Media, the site that I’m writing this on has found multiple ways to raise money for the war-torn area. People all over the world are taking in Ukrainian refugees, and even volunteering to go to the country and run rescue efforts for Ukrainian families trapped on the front lines. More than all of this, the Ukrainian citizens have shown themselves to be incredibly strong, intelligent and resilient in the face of a great horror which should never have been forced upon them.

Though there may be immediate short-term battles which are lost, it is boosting the morale of a country under siege that will discourage them from giving up. Continuing to push onwards, to keep the fire in your belly alive is what helps you win the long-term war. Having an optimistic outlook in hard times doesn’t make you passive or gullible, it’s what helps keep you going, it’s what helps you see a way out, the light at the end of the tunnel.

By Roma Kaiuk🇺🇦 on Unsplash

Volodymyr Zelenskyy has received international praise for his peace efforts and quick thinking when it became clear that peace was no longer viable. He has been depicted as a symbol of the Ukrainian resistance. I think all of Ukraine, whether they asked for it or not, have become a symbol of resistance to oppression. We can no longer close our eyes to the atrocities of this world. We must learn to be critical thinkers and avoid the tribe-like mentality that has culminated within our societies over years of misinformation. It is imperative that we keep paying attention.

Finally, we must stand up for each other. We must show, at all times, that there is no place for oppression, intimidation, or war crimes for superficial or capital gains anywhere around the globe. We must stand up for Ukraine.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it! If you did, feel free to like and subscribe.

If you would like to read more about Ukraine and what freedom means to us, check this article out:

Wanting to do something about what you've read today? Find out about multiple ways you can help Ukraine here!

You can find Zelenskyy's Instagram, where he regularly posts about the war here.

If you would like to continue the conversation, you can find me over on @OptimismWrites.

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About the Creator

Outrageous Optimism

Writing on a variety of subjects that are positive, progressive and pass the time.

We're here for a good time AND a long time!

Official Twitter: @OptimismWrites

Author Twitter: @gabriellebenna

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