As Ukraine’s 2013 “Revolution of Dignity” unfolded, it became clear that this movement was as much about articulating Ukrainian core values as it was about breaking a corrupt administration. The genesis of the revolution was students peacefully protesting Viktor Yanukovych’s balking at signing a promised association agreement with the European Union. But the dynamics drastically changed after November 30, when Ukraine’s Berkut riot police meted out a violent surge against the protesters, in an attempt to squelch the movement. As images of the violence and bloodshed flooded the airwaves, Ukrainian citizens had had enough: Family members marched on Maidan to support their children, and the revolution grew to upwards of a million people. There was a notable presence of grandmothers, and one Babushka angrily summed up her reason for protesting against Yanukovych, when asked by a film maker: “You will NOT hurt our children!”
While the focus of the protest was directed at Viktor Yanukovych, it did not escape Ukrainians that Russian president Vladimir Putin was centrally involved. In fact, many felt that Putin pressured Yanukovych to act, out of fear that this movement would spread to Russia, and various news agencies reported as much. Consequently, the rage to protect children was an international cry, directed both at a weak Ukrainian leader and a Russian leader with great international power. It was a message that would resonate all over the world.
The question at hand is how our leaders affect children globally, even if that connection may seem intangible at best. When Trump corrodes alliances, it affects children globally. When the Trump Administration dismantles climate accords, environmental regulations, and fossil fuel emissions standards, it affects children globally. When Trump and his sycophants are racist, misogynistic, or ignore human rights, it affects children globally.
Through our administration’s actions we now are morally, if not legally, connected to these children because of the tangible hurt America has created. Consequently, on some level, these children – who we all should see as beautiful human beings – have become part of my world. And as an adult who cares very deeply for our youth, I have only one message for our president of hate: You will NOT hurt our children!