74 Comments

What a beautiful essay. Beautiful, true, necessary. Thank you

Expand full comment
founding

From UNITED24's weekly newsletter:

"History professor and U24 ambassador, Timothy Snyder, has collected over $614,500 for the 'Shahed hunter' system. It will help to protect peaceful cities from terrorist drones. russia continues to attack civilian and critical infrastructure with iranian drones." 

Expand full comment

Thank you for this beautiful reminder of our debt to Ukrainians. We are so much safer now, all of us, thanks to them. The story of the “Carol of the Bells” is so poignant-I will never hear it again in the same way.

Expand full comment

All true, thank you. Here is my open letter to Spielberg written in March - about the same thing.

Dear Mr. Spielberg,

As the slaughter of the Ukrainian people by the Russian army gets more gruesome by the day and threatens to spill over into a wider war, I appeal to you as one of the great humanitarians of our time.

I remember how in your Oscar speech for ‘Schindler’s List’ you addressed the educators of the world. ‘Please do not allow the Holocaust to remain a footnote in history,’ you said. Your passionate plea was clear – let’s not forget it, lest it happen again.

Well, here we are. The script of September 1939 on replay – with helpless and bewildered citizens watching their impotent leaders fighting a mad dictator, with words.

Does the inaction of the US and its allies mean that from now on, any country with nuclear weapons can attack its weaker neighbors, bomb hospitals and maternity wards, use vacuum bombs on civilians, and starve people to death in besieged cities?

‘I didn’t do enough!’ says the sobbing Oskar Schindler at the end of your film.

Mr. Spielberg, do you think that our leaders are doing enough to stop this horror? Do you think the people of the world are doing enough to put pressure on their leaders to do more?

Our leaders seem to be under the illusion that bending to Putin’s threats is the least risky strategy. They are giving up Ukraine, much like England and France betrayed Czechoslovakia in 1938. The appeasement did not stop Hitler then; it will not stop Putin now.

‘Governments that choose shame over war, get both,’ warned Winston Churchill.

Those who think that not getting involved in this ‘distant conflict’ is best for America, are wrong. Saving Ukraine is not only a matter of morality; it is also critical for our own national security.

If Putin is not crushed in Ukraine, there will be two camps in the world again – the so-called ‘free world,’ and the others living in militarized misery. Only this time the second block will be swiftly expanding – they will be stronger, with no moral restraints, but lots of nuclear weapons. Should inflation really remain our main concern?

Iosif Kobzon was a famous Russian singer. He passed away several years ago. Today he is mostly remembered not for his songs, but for the fact that in October 2002 he saved several hostages, mostly kids, from the Chechen terrorists in a Moscow theater.

Mr. Spielberg, your place in history as one of the great cinematic visionaries is secured. But history itself is being written at this very moment. To give the new generations a chance to enjoy ‘E.T.’ and ‘Indiana Jones’, to learn from ‘Lincoln’ and ‘Saving Private Ryan’, they first need a chance to be born.

Like several other prominent Hollywood artists, you have Ukrainian roots. Some of them, like Mila Kunis and Leonardo DiCaprio, donated generously to Ukraine in its heroic struggle for freedom. Such donations are very important. But using one’s powerful voice to demand more action from the paralyzed governments may be even more important now.

We are not fighting for Ukraine. Ukraine is fighting for all of us.

I implore you, Mr. Spielberg, please speak up. You will be heard.

Now is the moment when firm statements from public figures of your stature can make a crucial impact in saving humanity, as we know it.

This time ‘saving the planet’ is not just a figure of speech.

Sincerely,

Zhenya Kiperman

Teacher

Expand full comment

Gratitude to you Timothy Snyder for being our chronicler, for tapping our consciences and our need to join one another in the mission of freedom for all.

Expand full comment

Thank you for sharing this Dr. Snyder! Reading your words, and feeling them resonate, was so powerful. If there were a gift I could give to Americans (and everyone else for that matter), it would be the heart-swelling, awe-inspiring feeling of gratitude for all that Ukraine and Ukrainians are doing for us.

I recently received Zelenskyy's book, A Message from Ukraine. Reading it really does help me understand more about what Ukraine is fighting for. Their courage and values didn't spring overnight at the point of the full invasion in February. Ukraine was already working to create the society that expresses each of the seven words you used to describe them.

Again, thank you for your powerful essay.

Expand full comment

Please, please, please publish this in media outlets that are read by a wide spectrum of citizens of countries throughout the world (especially in countries where democracies are currently being threatened) so that many, many more individual citizens can benefit from your wisdom and, thereby, see what’s happening in Ukraine from a more profound point of view than is typically offered in the mainstream media.

Expand full comment

I came across this You Tube piece. It discusses how the Carol influenced the world's view of Ukraine, including politically. It was a planned effort to help Ukraine. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jk6GZe15FRY

Expand full comment

Thank you so much: for reminding us what democracy means, what freedom means, what courage by the most insignificant--and therefore the most powerful--means. This essay alone is a civics lesson for all children.

Expand full comment

I appreciate your steady support and voice for Ukraine. Your support, through your media appearances, your lectures, and your writing also gives us a mandate for why we need to keep supporting them in their efforts against Putin’s immoral war.

Ukraine will also need lots of us to speak up and keep speaking up to support them via our elected representatives, other organized groups, and individually, especially to this upcoming Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

It appears right now that the loudest voices in the Republican Party advocate for fascism and Putin, while a lot of others in that Party, by their silence, just go along for the ride.

Expand full comment
founding

Thank you Ukraine!! It really can't be said enough from the bottoms of our hearts.

Expand full comment

Excellent, thank you

Expand full comment
founding

One of the extraordinary characteristics seen in Ukraine is the courage and perseverance of individual Ukrainians in their pluralist roles as citizens of Ukraine. Their generosity of spirit gives them the strength to take part in actions beneficial and necessary to the country's security -- learning how to fly drones, make Molotov cocktails, do surgical procedures as well as singing traditional songs, etc. -- inspiring people around the world to appreciate these values and the freedom that democracy offers for people to share these values, initially perhaps by aiding Ukraine and, eventually by actions in their own lives.

Expand full comment

Perhaps it has had an effect on Iranians and in China.. and elsewhere, the courage to rise up.

Expand full comment

A way to show gratitude to Ukraine and to Prof. Snyder is by supporting his fundraising efforts on the UNITED 24 website, the official charitable giving platform of the president of Ukraine. Prof. Snyder is an ambassador for UNITED 24 and is raising money for an anti-drone defensive system and medical supplies.

Expand full comment

Deep mysteries are hidden in the origins of this folk song. The clue lies in its origin in spring rites. The change in celebrating the beginning of the year from the spring equinox to the winter solstice is registered also in English folk tradition of the mediaeval period, where the spring equinox was retained as the year's start until relatively recently. Over time, Spring evolved into Easter. Winter became Christmas. Christmas commemorates the physical birth of the Jesus child, and echoes the original story of the human soul Adam–Eve first coming ("falling") into the flesh. The start of life on earth. Easter celebrates the earthly death, then resurrection into eternal life. So between Christmas and Easter we have depicted the entire evolutionary journey of humanity from the first couple to the final spiritualised glorious body.

Things got a bit complicated along the way. One problem arose with the confusion of the Roman Saturnalia with the Christian winter festival. At some point winter solstice was taken as the start of the administrative, earthly year, where spring equinox signalled commencement of the spiritual year. Lots of adjustments of this sort were made in different places and times over the past 2000 years.

One important point to note is that current Epiphany, 6 January, which falls at the end of the 13 Holy Nights of the winter festival starting on Christmas Eve, was originally a festival of spiritual initiation, the receiving of the light. So here again, we have the contrast and interweaving of the earthly and the spiritual in the human story.

These episodes of spiritual history are summarised from detailed descriptions given by the modern western initiate teacher Dr Rudolf Steiner. The book "Festivals of the Seasons" reproduces some of his key lectures on this topic. Most of his lectures can also be accessed online at RSArchive.org.

What Ukrainians have preserved points to something genuinely truly transcendent, which stands in striking contrast to the ersatz manufactured pseudo-theology, the materialistic imperial power-focussed delusions of Vladimir Putin.

Expand full comment

Thank you for this. I will print this and keep your words in a special place documenting this moment. I will continue to fight for Ukraine, fight for Freedom, and fight for democracy. I refuse to succumb to the gaslighting and blurring of vision due to rampant capitalism. Fighting for democracy keeps me free.

Your words are beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

Annie

Expand full comment

Wow. Back in the day we often joked about official U.S. claims that "we" were "making the world safe for democracy," when so often our foreign policy and our wars did the opposite. Now the Ukrainians are doing it for real. I hope policymakers and the U.S. public take notice. Democracy is not something we can export or confer on others. It *is* something that needs to be nurtured and defended, as the Ukrainians are doing, and as we need to keep doing too.

Expand full comment

What it is doing to Ukraine though! And we should not need a Putin aggression for that realization! Chances are it would be internal if we do not take heed at home.

Expand full comment

No, we shouldn't, but we aren't so good at remembering our own history either.

Expand full comment

Thank you for this wonderful and thoughtful essay about my home.

Expand full comment

My heart is with you, and I will keep doing what I can to support Ukraine. I also am sending wishes for warmth and light.

Expand full comment