A Question of Character – Part VI

Self-Actualization and Repatriation

(cf. Psalm 137: 1 – 3, RSV)

By Dr. Andrew Thomas Kania


The word ‘Cossack’ derives from the Turkic word ‘kazak’ a term that means to be a ‘free man’. This meaning of the term ‘Cossack’ has undoubtedly been distorted and lost in the annals of history after the Battle of Poltava and the subsequent Destruction of the Zaporozhian Sich toward the close of the 18th Century. (Please note however that after Poltava even the existence of the Sich was solely at the precarious mercy of the Tsars). I speak about the distortion of the meaning of ‘Cossack’ here as what was later to be known as ‘Cossacks’ under the Russian Empire were military units, servile in nature, functioning as vassals of Autocrats. A free man cannot be a vassal, a free man sees his neighbour as his equal; thus placing his neighbour neither on a pedastal above nor at a station below himself. The Zaporohian Cossacks saw themselves as autonomous – although sometimes paradoxically annexing themselves for purposes of preserving their autonomy to various European Empires; but all the while doing so for a goal that protected the future of their Sich and Nation. This is vastly distinct from the many examples of so termed ‘Cossacks’, who for instance, at Bloody Sunday in Moscow in 1905, massacred the poor and hungry in order to serve and preserve a Tsar. How can a man be free if his mind-set is based on the preservation of feudalism? The term ‘Cossack’ has thus been usurped in history now to describe any horseman, with a sabre, and woolen hat, who acts as an indentured thug for some tyrannical authority or ambition. In contemporary western contexts we even see Motorcycle gangs bearing the name ‘Cossacks’, who know little or nothing about the essence of being a Cossack, and who have obviously neither belief in God, nor a respect for universal freedoms and the basic rights of others. It should always be remembered that there was very much a spiritual and philosophical dimension to being a member of the Zaporozhian Host.

As implied in earlier Parts to this series – the genetic development of the Zaporozhian Cossacks was clearly leading toward the plan of a fully democratic Christian nation of Ukraine; clearly spelt out in the Constitution of Pylyp Orlyk. The Zaporozhians were the archetypal Cossacks as they became the sworn enemy of autocrats and tyrants – they were ‘free men’, and that is why the Sich needed to be destroyed by Tsars and also why the history of the Zaporozhians ‘needed’ to be ‘russified’ later by Tsars and Commisars. ATK

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The American psychologist, Abraham Maslow (1908 – 1970), once wrote about ‘self-actualization’, that it is : “the tendency for him [the individual] to become actualized in what he is potentially. This tendency might be phrased as the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming.” (Maslow, 1943, Psychological Review 50, pp. 370 – 396, A Theory of Human Motivation) Although Maslow is describing the development of an individual on the road to finding maximum fulfilment; societies are based on communities of individuals – and nations are societies that have established themselves common goals, a common language, and a shared history. Thus mature nations must aspire to be self-actualized.

Irrespective of the long periods of time when the Ukrainian people have not had political independence – the Ukrainian nation as an ideal has lived on and developed in the heart and minds of its people – for there has always been a thirst and desire for self-actualization, among the Ukrainians. If this were not the case then how else could a people without a national boundary still have existed down the long, arid centuries?

Mykhailo Hrushevsky (1997), a brilliant historian, undoubtedly understood the importance of shared-story in the building of nationhood. His seminal work is one of the greatest intellectual treasures Ukraine has in its trove. It was deliberate in its conception and purpose. The fledgling nation of Ukraine needed an ancient and unbroken story. Awareness of identity is one of the central themes in his History of Ukraine-Rus’: Volume One – From Prehistory to the Eleventh Century. To Hrushevsky the Ukrainian people are a reality – not merely an intellectual proposition; they have existed from Kyiv-Rus’ to the present time; hence the poignant title of his work.

As one example of Hrushevsky’s Kyiv-Rus’/Ukrainian historical view, Hrushevsky speaks particularly about the work of St. Volodymyr in establishing the Christian state of Kyiv-Rus’: “he ‘began to take children of prominent subjects and to set them to the study of book learning.’ It has justly pointed out that the reason for taking the children of ‘prominent subjects’ – that is, those from the higher stratum of society, from the best families – was not to educate clerics, who emerged from other than aristocratic circles, but had a broader purpose, namely, to introduce the Byzantine system of education and cultural upbringing among the local aristocracy. In short, it was Volodymyr’s overall goal to make Rus’ part of the contemporary, civilized world.” (Hrushevsky, 1997, p. 399) What Hrushevsky is clearly suggesting is that modern Ukraine must educate in order to develop. Contemporary Ukraine has attempted to follow in St. Volodymyr’s footsteps – to bring Ukraine into the family of nations of Europe, by the process of education, and the consequences of this process.

Ukrainian political independence has shown to the world the reality of this national germination; with a modern day renaissance of culture as well as a deep quest to understand who they are as a people, and a striving to repatriate their people and their history. The word ‘repatriation’, literally means to return an individual or people to their fatherland. The Ukrainian people have in the last three decades done much, intellectually, to re-capture what was lost or taken from them. All this, is a stage on the road to being self-actualized and to develop yet further, a distinctive national character. This movement is critical in the strengthening of modern nationhood. What is required in Ukraine at this moment and amongst the Ukrainians of the diaspora, is a sense of re-patriation – the discovery of who they are in order to discover who they can aspire to become. The re-establishment and use of the Ukrainian language is critical in the nation being self-actualized. Linguistically, the Ukrainian language must return to its roots, ‘purify’, and be used by its people: in home and social conversation, in philosophy, in science, in the Arts, in prayer.

Henry Adams (1838 – 1918) the 19th/20th Century intellectual of the United States, in his work ‘Democracy’, has some very salient words that speak equally to the revered memory of pre-Poltava Ukraine, as they are also instructive for the modern Ukrainian nation, its leaders and its people. A democracy according to Adams can only be ‘real’ by way of the steady character development of the nation. Adams has one of his figures [Ratcliffe], say the following: “no representative government can long be much better or much worse than the society it represents. Purify society and you purify the government.” (Adams, Democracy, Ninth Printing, p. 37).

The key components in purifying a society, and therefore stabilising a nation in its quest of self-determination, and democratic ideals lies in the promulgation of Faith, and the universal access to high quality Education. Faith is at the core of morality – education is the foundation stone of literacy, and therefore communication, leading to the transfer of a nation’s story, and the ability to reason. A nation needs to ensure that its citizens see Faith and Education as worth striving for, preserving and nurturing. A nation progresses through steps of education from basic literacy upward, to a point where the general level of education supports self-actualization.

Professor V.W. Bladen in his Introduction to John Stuart Mill’s Principles of Political Economy writes: “Mr. Escher of Zurich is quoted at some length [by John Stuart Mill]: ‘The better educated workmen …. Are distinguished by superior moral habits … they are entirely sober; they are discreet in their enjoyments …; they have a taste for much better society, which they approach respectfully …; they are … honest and trustworthy’” (John Stuart Mill, Principles of Political Economy, Vol. I [I.108.36 – 109.9], 2006, p.xli) John Stuart Mill emphasizes a strong connection of the mature workman and citizen between: education and private ownership of property. The citizen becomes self-determined, and ambitious – something the Soviet system sought to destroy in the heart of the Ukrainian people in the 20th Century. An educated people begins also to reflect on the Arts and Sciences. In order for the Ukrainian nation to realize its potential, it must strive for self-actualization. A self-actualized people and nation, are aware of who they are, and their place in the Commonwealth of nations. Conversely it is in the interest of the enemies of Ukraine, to seek: discord, division and instability in Ukraine. This needs to be kept in mind. Ukraine as a national entity is probably now in the comparable position as the United States of America, after the Revolution of 1776 – the Ukrainians  are establishing a national character – but simultaneously they are threatened by an Empire who seeks the demise of the reality of their independent nation building.

Henry Adams, in yet another quote, has a character speak poignant words in Democracy: “Democracy asserts the fact that the masses are raised to a higher intelligence than formerly. All our civilisation aims at this mark. We want to do what we can to help it. I myself want to see the result. I grant it is an experiment, but it is the only direction society can take that is worth taking; the only conception of its duty large enough to satisfy its instincts; the only result that is worth an effort or a risk. Every other possible step is backward, and I do not care to repeat the past. I am glad to see society grapple with issues in which no one can afford to be neutral.” (Adams, Democracy, Ninth Printing, p. 40).

In the quest for a national self-actualization – Ukraine must grapple with those issues which can afford no neutrality, and no backward step – and must work through deliberately planned stages, each brick securely placed one on another: Faith formation, stable family life, literacy, national security, cultural awareness, economic competitiveness; the formation of ethical leaders, the development of social welfare – these are all integral building blocks.

But foremost the Ukrainian people must take to mind, heart and soul the words of St. Paul in being unified, and loving one another in the process of self-actualization:  “12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the organs in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single organ, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” … But God has so composed the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior part, 25 that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-21 & 24 – 26, RSV)

May God Bless Ukraine!
By Dr. Andrew Thomas Kania