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The View From Here: A Dose of Hryts

Dec 12, 2016 | Newpathway, Featured, The View From Here - Walter Kish

Volodymyr Kish.

It had been a while since I last engaged in what I hesitatingly call “conversation” with my sagacious cousin Hryts, so last week I fired up Skype and connected with him in the picturesque little hamlet called Pidkamin in Western Ukraine where he holds court. I say hesitatingly, as speaking with Hryts tends to result in a rather one way flow of information. Hryts has this uncanny ability to lay bare my intellectual deficiencies and expose my shameful lack of understanding about this world and how it functions. As he once graphically observed, “With most people, age bring on wisdom. In your case, it has only brought on sclerosis of the brain!”

Be that as it may, I regularly turn to Hryts when I am beset with personal conundrums or need some spiritual or psychological maintenance. For all his gruff exterior, Hryts has a big heart and is liberal with his astute advice and comforting empathy. He has a way of turning the sour lemons we are handed in life into exquisite lemon meringue pies for the soul. As you may surmise, I am particularly addicted to this particular species of dessert, both virtually and physically.

On this occasion, I started off with a bit of an outpouring, or more appropriately, a rant, on how disappointed I have been with the events that have transpired over the past year. It seems to me that the world in 2016 suffered from a particularly virulent form of temporary psychosis, with irrationality, hatred, greed, ignorance, racism, inhumanity, cruelty and barbarism dominating the news on a daily basis.

“Frankly, Hrytsiu,” I exclaimed at one point, “I despair for the future of mankind!”

Throughout my somewhat intemperate ravings, Hryts kept mostly quiet, with only the occasional “Hmmm” punctuating his studied silence. Eventually I ran out of steam and paused, feeling a tad sheepish about my emotive volubility.

“Well, well my young turnip,” Hryts eventually responded, “You certainly seem to have rendered a harsh judgment on this past year. By the sound of it, the seven trumpets have sounded, and the four horsemen of the apocalypse are on their way. Better get your affairs in order!”

“Really, Hrytsiu,” I whined back, “Making fun of me does not lessen the sad state of the world at this moment. Aren’t you at all concerned with what is happening? Don’t you care?”

“Of course I care,” he replied, with a softening in his tone, “I hear the same news that you do, only I make it a point to keep it in perspective. The death and destruction that is happening in the Donbas, or in Syria, or the numerous genocidal conflicts in Africa, are indeed frightful things to behold. The election of Trump, the rise in right wing ideology, the refugee crisis, the advent of authoritarianism in Turkey, the seemingly countless little tragedies that are occurring throughout the world, all give cause to contemplate and question the viability of our human race. And yet, you must remember to keep it in perspective.”

“And just what do you mean by keeping it in perspective?” I shot back defensively.

He sighed briefly, and continued.

“You must remember, that in my lifetime, I witnessed the Holodomor wherein millions of Ukrainians died to satisfy Stalin’s genocidal strategy. I witnessed the Second World War, during which my country was almost completely destroyed. I suffered through the worst of the Communist purges when many of my friends and relatives perished in the frozen wastes of Siberia. I have known hunger, war, cruelty and inhumanity on a scale you can hardly imagine. What you have witnessed in the past year, is certainly disheartening, from your point of view, but when measured against the index of misery of even recent history, never mind that of centuries past, it is not as dire as you may think it is.”

I let that sink in a bit before continuing.

“I suppose you have a point, Hrytsiu. But still, should we not be concerned? Should we not be doing something about it?”

“Aha!” Hrytsiu exploded back. “At last some light is beginning to seep into the dark and dusty recesses of your brain. Look upon what is happening and then refer to historical precedents for the appropriate lessons that will teach you where things are heading and what the consequences will be. Then act. Act to ensure that you don’t repeat the same historical mistakes over again. Whatever power or influence you may have, be it big or small, use it to help steer events and people onto a more constructive path. Whatever you do, don’t just sit on your butt and complain. That only leads to a bigger butt that will soon find itself in virtual boiling water.”

I pondered that for a moment before replying.

“As usual Hrytsiu, you have given me something to think about.”

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