Monday, 16 December 2013

Dumplings and the Revolution in Ukraine

For the last four weeks, I’ve let a revolution take over my life.

My days and nights have been filled not by dumpling dissertations – or many other more important pursuits – but by events on a public plaza in an Eastern European city in the middle of its winter of the weather but its spring of the spirit.

I’ve been constantly following the pro-democracy Euromaydan Movement in Ukraine, my parents’ birthplace, as literally millions of Ukrainians stand in the snow and sleet to sing “songs of freedom”, as Bob Marley called them.

Here in Australia, with friends and very patient family, I’ve been helping to organise “Kangaroo” Maydans where we stand and sweat in the sun in some solidarity. (Our friend, Katya S., on the photo at a recent Melbourne event.)

I write this ep in a suburban shopping mall’s food court, eating chicken mince pan-fried dumplings in triangle shapes. My neighbours are elderly Chinese eating KFC, which has just rebranded green-and-gold to look more Aussie for the cricket season.

And it makes me wonder where home is, and to realise that it’s more in my attitude than in my longitude and latitude. When I have my human rights in abundance, as I do in Australia, and I have the practical opportunity, as I do by God's grace, it’s a simple responsibility to say something about someone else’s. No matter the colours on the flag or the stars I see in the sky.

And it makes me wonder about the ties that bind.  Logically, there’s little probability in me – a son of migrants to the US and a migrant yet again to Oz – making a substantive difference for the people in Kyiv. And, yet, I sign the letters, I lobby the pollies, I get outraged that the media doesn’t share my outrage at kids getting beaten up by security forces... To do otherwise is to undo the emotional glue of culture and family.

And it makes me wonder about a digital world that now lets me and countless millions see matters unfold in Kyiv in live time. How in the same instant the internet makes us feel both more connected to there, and more disconnected from there. How, on the one hand, it deludes us into self-importance through the lure of status posts and likes. How, on the other hand, it humbles us as we can actually watch genuine heroism and faith in action – like the priests standing at 2am between revved-up riot police and young protestors.

And it makes me wonder about the regular lives of the folks out on the Maydan – which must truly be on hold for their worthy cause. I think of the basics – of eating, sleeping, shitting, and showering as thousands undertake the world’s biggest and coldest urban camping trip. How in moments like Maydan – in the sacrifice they require from oneself for others – we show the gracefulness of the human spirit conquering the messiness of the human body. That there is God in each of us.

I recall the story of the quiet young woman with cerebral palsy from Donetsk who has come to Kyiv to battle a corrupt regime while battling her own body. (

Her contribution to Maydan is to take the paper tags off the tea bags so they brew better. From her fragile hands for the warmth of the kids out on the plaza.

If she can be a revolutionary of peace and dignity, so I am obliged to be too. In some tiny faraway way. That we should some day share some varenyky in a free country.


  1. I thought the post was about dumplings. You tricked me into reading it and I am glad you did. Keep it going brother.

  2. Well written, cousin ... I too have been watching from afar with pride and envy, from Ukraine following the posts and tweets for hours on end, and from Australia the effort you have undertaken to publicly bring attention to the heroes and heroines on Maydan.

  3. thx, roxolana. see you in a couple of weeks.