Sunday, November 28, 2004

The Revolution Will Be Carried On the Backs of Babushki

Via Tulip Girl, here's part of a story the Ukrainian-based blog Foreign Notes has up about a revolutionary granny:
While riding up, there were some men riding down chanting “YU-SCHEN-KO! YU-SCHEN-KO!” So my mother-in-law joined in in her higher pitched voice, “YU-SCHEN-KO! YU-SCHEN-KO!” From that she went to “Nas bahatu; ta nas ne peremozhesh” rhythmically. It means “We are many; you can’t defeat us!” I am not sure where that came from. I don’t think anyone was chanting it when we rode up but others knew it and started in too. “Nas bahatu; ta nas ne peremozhesh!” (Maybe it’s in the genes?) When we got to the top, there we people in small groups talking to each other and not chanting. My mother-in-law thought this was not right so she walked over to them and started them up, “Nas bahatu; ta nas ne peremozhesh!,” chopping her hand in rhythm.

We walked out onto the square. Actually, we squeezed our way out onto the square from the subway exit. This put us right in front of the stage. She seemed to be in her element then and was getting an idea what was going on at last. I was there for a few minutes but then left to go see what was happening in other areas of the square and to see the tent city they had set up further down the block. When I left her, she was grinning ear to ear.

Yesterday, we got word that she had been with the protestors at the Presidential Administration Building. They were there again as part of the numbers of people who are making their presence felt around government buildings in the downtown area. We were told that she went up to the guards in front of the entrance, guards in full riot gear, masks and shield, in ranks twenty deep. She went up to one and said, “I am a babushka [translated roughly as “grandmother” but used for every older woman grandmother age] from the village. I came here to find out how you are. Are you fine? Are you hungry? Maybe your parents are somewhere worrying about you?

It's a tremendous story from the heart of the movement for democracy.

I wish I could do something to help them. Instead, watching from afar as the Ukrainians stand up for the nation they want, the Poles supporting them, hearing the incredible stories of courage from Afghanistan and Iraq, witnessing democracy outflank the world in a month that has changed so much, I feel they are helping the US, and me personally. I know none of these nations are standing up for the US, and none of them know me from Adam. Even so, my life has been greatly enriched by witnessing it.

As an American, I am incredibly thankful for the Afghans who have taken up the torch of liberty, to the Iraqis who are fighting and dying for liberty, to the Ukrainians who are standing up now for liberty.

They are changing the world in big ways.

No comments: