This year Ukraine celebrated the 29th anniversary of its independence! On the occasion of this holiday the All-Ukrainian initiative “The Active Community” held an All-Ukrainian online marathon “Why do I love Ukraine?” During this marathon, Ukrainians from all over the country had an opportunity to listen to more than 60 speakers: prominent figures in the field of culture and media, activists, artists, business representatives and public figures. More than 2600 Ukrainians not only watched our marathon on the Facebook page and more than 200 participants joined an online conference in ZOOM. In addition to the greetings of the speakers, the participants were able to share their feelings for the Motherland with the whole Ukraine. Furthermore, participants of the marathon were able to take part in a thematic quiz, listen to songs performed by famous Ukrainian singers, and the participants of the All-Ukrainian action “Why do I love Ukraine?”, which took place the week before the holiday, also had an opportunity to learn the names of the winners.

So, we would like to remind you how it was and to share the greetings from some of our guests.

Valery Pekar, Ukrainian businessman and public figure, teacher of Kyiv-Mohyla and Lviv business schools

“If we take a map of the world, we will see about 200 countries. If we take a calendar, we will see the year 2020. But it is not so in all countries in the world. There are some countries where it is the 16th or 12th century now. And there are also some countries which live in the 5th century BC now. This means that the world is developing in waves. The wave of 2020 did not cover all countries in the world. But there are some countries that live in 2035. You can go there and see it. But it is not a fact that everyone will see it, because you need to understand where to look and what to see. So, it turns out that the whole world lives in completely different times. 35-37 countries of the world live today, in 2020. And the others, including Ukraine, live in much earlier times. Because 2020 is a year when prosperity, justice, human development, social elevators and, finally, happiness should have come to the whole planet. Every decade, these 35-37 are joined by new ones. Everyone wants to be in the future. For most of the world, the future does not come. And Ukraine has also been running like a bad biathlete for 29 years: he didn’t hit the target and must run an extra circle, again and again. 6 years ago we tried to break this circle. But there are neighbors who do not agree with this and prevent our going into the future. This has always been in this way in the history of the world. Ukraine is among the few countries that have started their movement to the future. We started our way, got up from the couch, left the beer and the magazine, took the backpack and started acting. It is difficult, there is always a desire to drop your backpack and return home, where there is a TV, a magazine and some beer. But on the top of the mountain there are those who have already come before us and are waiting for us and reaching out to us now. Below us there are those who will follow us, they are looking and waving at us. Why are we stuck? Because it is impossible to move without one’s own state. We have it now, but it is not the fact that we were moving. We got the state in 1991, and started moving in 2014. We are like a snail on a slope. The snail wants to move forward, but some force pulls him down. Who is this force? It would be the easiest to say that it is the government, the oligarchs, or other people. In fact, it is a force that works in each of us: fear of change, of the future, fear of leaving the comfort zone. This is that fear of change that operates in us. What happened in Ukraine in 2014? More and more people overcame this fear. When the number of people who overcome this fear and start doing something becomes critical, life will change. Those who are ahead of us are looking down at us. Those, for whom we are a hope, are looking at us from below. If we fail, they will go nowhere. And finally, we are looking at ourselves, too. Because we have no other source of hope than to get there, where a major league of nations is. We have great chances of joining them. But we need to overcome our fear, get up from the couch, take our backpack and go the hard way up with an understanding of where exactly we are going.”

Maria Tsypiashchuk, lawyer, coordinator of the public reception of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, public ombudswoman for the protection of citizens’ suffrage in the citizens` network “OPORA”

“We really have a lot of people and communities we can be proud of. Our society is now being transformed. We are moving away from paternalism and gradually becoming a society that is just beginning to look for ways and resources. Of course, the state must create at least the minimum conditions for people to receive these resources, but a lot depends on us. So, I want to wish not to be ashamed to show ourselves and our achievements. And we have a lot to show. There are lots of startups and developments in Ukraine, they are unique and creative. I sincerely wish Ukrainians more self-confidence, adventurousness, not to be afraid to take risks and to become stronger every day.”

Aysel Azad Kyzy Omarova, PhD in Justice Studies, Lecturer at the Department of History of State and Law of Ukraine and Foreign Countries of the Yaroslav the Wise National Law University, Deputy’s Assistant

“I am not Ukrainian by origin and I was not even born here, but in Azerbaijan. But it happened so that I live here, I grew up, studied, worked here, and my children were born here. Why do I love Ukraine? First of all, I love Ukraine for the people. They are sincere. I have lived in Azerbaijan and in Turkey for a long time, so I have something to compare with. Ukrainians are very sincere, very hardworking and this synergy of people who want the best for their country, who are fighting for its independence, is something incredible. While living in Ukraine, I have never felt that I was treated differently because of my origin. And it is very cool when a person is treated according to the thoughts, consciousness and attitude to the world. I love Ukraine because we have freedom of speech and freedom of action. We have non-state public organizations and institutions that are created to achieve certain goals and objectives. A prime example is the “Active Community”. This is an organization, which has organized itself, and is engaged in educational activities. This is an example of self-organization of people and the creation of civil society. The state must create the conditions, and people can already organize themselves. We can argue a lot about what is true and what is wrong in our country. But there is something that is undoubtedly cool: freedom of speech, freedom of thought, a list of human rights and freedoms, a variety of public organizations, political parties, and a huge number of volunteers. It’s a great achievement that starts with the people who live here.”

Liubov Kliuchnikova, public activist of the united territorial community of Pervozvanivka village (Kropyvnytskyi)

“I congratulate the whole Ukraine on the holiday, which is very important for every Ukrainian. I love Ukraine because it is unique, because of its beautiful nature, talented people. The only thing we need is self-determination. We should be proud that we are Ukrainians. We have inexhaustible reserves of minerals and intellectual resources. Our country is rich in all directions. I wish all Ukrainians to be self-determined and to take responsibility for each day spent for the good of our country.”

Svitlana Arefnia, PhD in Psychology, Associate Professor of Psychology in the International Academy of Personnel Management, Member of the Ukrainian Association of Organizational Psychologists and Occupational Psychologists, Member of the Ukrainian and Belarusian Associations of Psychotherapists. Member of the Association of TV Experts, Head of the “FILIN” Training Center

“I congratulate everyone on the holiday! I want to say in terms of psychology. Each of us has three main needs: acceptance and love, security and recognition. If these three needs are met, we feel happy. For me, these needs were met in my native Ukraine. I received acceptance and love, because the country gave me my family, my husband, two children, many friends. Ukrainian people are extremely sincere and hospitable. I got it in our country. Security means for me first of all a feeling of social protection. In my country, I feel this feeling of home and it makes me happy. As for recognition, this country has given me the opportunity to do a PhD, to be a media personality and to convey to others how important it is to love, communicate with others, teach. Ukraine has given recognition for me as a specialist, as a woman, as a mother. The nature of our country inspires. Wherever I am, I always want to come back home. The country instills in me love, sincerity and a sense of happiness. It is a great honor for me to live here.”

Iryna Khomenko, professor, specialist in logic, heuristics and argumentation theory

“I am glad to welcome everyone to the marathon. I think that love for Ukraine is a real value. Why do I love my son? Just because he is my son, I will never betray him. The same is with Ukraine. This love should be manifested in routine affairs. This is not an abstract concept. I am very glad that we have preserved our language. This is our identity. It is very nice to see young people who speak Ukrainian. We have gone through so many revolutions, we have won our independence. I hope that our country will develop and the people who live here will be successful both in their professional activities and in everyday life.”

Vakhtang Kebuladze, philosopher, phenomenologist, professor, publicist, translator, musician

“I congratulate everyone on Independence Day. This is perhaps the most important holiday in our country now. Why do I love Ukraine? I love it for independence. Finally, my homeland gives me the feeling of a free person. I was born and grew up in the Soviet Union. That is why I am grateful to Ukraine for not having the painful feeling of disgust for my homeland that I had during the Soviet era. This feeling is one of the most traumatic in a person’s life. As Symonenko wrote: “You can choose everything in the world, son, you can’t choose only Ukraine.” This independence and a sense of belonging to a free world is very important. Country, state, political nation – this is what Benedict Anderson called “imagined communities.” So, they are always the products of our imagination.” Therefore, it is very dangerous to love the products of our imagination unconditionally. For me, the question “Why do I love Ukraine?” sounds a little bit different: “What should I do and in what processes should I participate, so that I have reason to love my Motherland and be proud of it.” “Homeland is not a place where it is good. This is a place where you want it to be good. And we must make every effort to do this, although it may not happen in our lifetime. This could happen in the lives of future generations. But the most important question for me is: “What should we do to make our Motherland a good place to live in?” First of all, we need to get rid of the connection with the Soviet past, the shadow of civilization, and finally to join free humanity, European civilization.”

Olga Bondar-Riznychenko, museum specialist, volunteer

“With great pleasure I congratulate you on the holiday. I took part in establishing independence in Kharkiv. We have been distributing newsletters in Kharkiv since 1988. Over time, this spirit of activity from Kharkiv has grown to the whole Ukraine. And it is very inspiring. I love my people, among whom I live. We are all united by a sense of kinship. And the Revolution of Dignity and the beginning of the war contributed to the creation of different public organizations, collaboration. We used to be connected by separate point stories, now through our volunteer work, through cultural projects I have a feeling that this family is constantly growing, and I am increasingly finding my spiritual relatives all over Ukraine. Because of this, a new way of self-organization may emerge, which will provide an opportunity for the development of a new state system for our country. In terms of our freedom-loving potential, we are far ahead of all countries in the world.”

Iryna Koval, founder of “SEMENOVA-media”

“If I lived, for example, in a Muslim country, I would definitely not be able to choose my profession. It is good that in our country women can drive cars, run businesses. Unfortunately, this is still impossible in some countries. I am grateful to Ukraine for the people who, despite all the crises, find the strength and start their own business. They don’t emigrate, although they could. They invest in business development in Ukraine. I see prospects for myself, prospects in developing cities. I would like to wish all of us a focus on the development that our state gives us.”

Irina Schmidt, director of KOMPARUS.YUA

“The opportunity to take part in such an event isn’t frequent. It’s very thrilling for me. How can I tell why I do love a part of my body? Ukraine is a part of me. I was born here, I live, and I love. For me, Ukraine is, first of all, our history. Ukraine for me means our traditions. I am very glad that we have a tradition of celebrating Christmas. Ukraine is our incredibly beautiful nature. Ukraine is our cities. Each one is incredible in its own way. As for me, people are the greatest value in Ukraine. I am infinitely grateful to the people who fought for our freedom at the cost of their lives. I congratulate all of us on this wonderful holiday!”

Yulia Berezhko-Kaminska, Poetess, Secretary of the National Union of Writers of Ukraine for Work with Young Authors

“I am glad to be with you today. This holiday unites all Ukrainians. Everyone has his own answer to the question: Why do I love Ukraine? We learn ourselves and our emotions by discovering our country, our land. I’m not talking about my love openly. It is such a delicate thing, an energy that must seep between what we do. If you invest something of your own in it, it is more valuable. I want to join the best wishes for Ukraine. Let`s show our love for Ukraine by actions, not words.”

Note. The mission of the “Active Community” is to achieve prosperity through the democratic development of Ukrainian communities. The goal for 2025 is to activate and involve at least 1% of citizens in decision-making and promotion of reforms in Ukraine on a systemic basis for the well-being of Ukrainian communities. The initiative was created through the activities of the “Institute Respublica”. We are working to increase the civil activity of citizens.

Author: the head of the press service of the Institute “Respublica” and

the All-Ukrainian initiative “Active Community” Tetiana Kavunenko