We just need to make an effort.
There is such a disease - night blindness. This is when a person sees much worse in the dark. Shades lengthen, the sun is declining - and the person is getting blind, getting poorly oriented in space. With dawn visual acuity is restored. So, at any time in history entire nations fall ill with this night blindness. We are not an exception. Ukraine as well.
If the correspondent of the Ukrainian radio Pavel Sharoiko had not been sitting in the KGB jail now, but had simply been exiled from Belarus, one could have said: it's good that it happened. Now, at least, Ukrainians will stop saying that everything in Belarus is good, and Lukashenka is a great devotee to freedom and independence. We heard this for several years: they say, he did not recognize the Crimea occupation, he sells us diesel fuel to refuel our military vehicles and even recently publicly said that Ukraine is fighting for independence. And it could be heard with various degree of expressiveness from a Ukrainian official, a journalist, a volunteer, a musician, a taxi driver, a passer-by. Some still could wonder whether we liked Batska (Father). And they were genuinely surprised to learn that in Belarus Lukashenka has not been named like that for twenty years.
In response to any arguments, one thing sounded: he did not recognize the Crimea. Georgia blinded by the lightning war and the loss of its territories in 2008 said: "He's not as bad as you think! He did not recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia! You have it in for him."
Now Ukraine has begun to see clearly. Ukrainian journalist Pavel Sharoiko is in a Belarusian jail on charges of espionage, another Ukrainian Pavel Grib is easily kidnapped on the territory of our country and is in a Russian prison on charges of terrorist act preparations. And finally Vice-Speaker of Verkhovna Rada Irina Gerashchenko called Belarus' voting in the UN against the resolution on the human rights situation in the occupied Crimea the "a stab in the back of Ukraine". But in general, last year Belarus voted in the same way. And then no one spoke of the stab in the back. How many more Ukrainians should be kidnapped, arrested, or even killed here, so that the Ukrainian leadership and the Ukrainian society could finally realize what today's Belarus means?
I deliberately now divide the leadership and the society. Because bureaucrats often have other diagnoses. Their eyesight can stay sharp and does not suffer the night blindness. They usually suffer moral decay and financial interest in cooperation with illegal regimes. But one can always put on sunglasses and pretend that you, like everyone else, just do not see in the dark.
Alas, we are similar. "If Asians are not leashed, they will cut throats to one another" - have you ever heard of this when mentioning dictatorships in Central Asia? Of course, you have heard. "There cannot be democracy in Africa, only another colonization will save them." "Let the Russians deal with their ruthenium on their own." "Big thrill, Crimea was chopped off, but the great Maidan occurred!"
We rush to other people's barricades; being blind we cannot build our own, and it seems to us that others will succeed, and we will not. And they often think that everything is very good for us - girls are beautiful and streets are clean. They say that the darkness is in their country.
And in any country bent by a dictatorship or a war, you will certainly hear: "Is this bad? Here we have..." Shades lengthen, and we first stop seeing each other, and then hearing. But the night blindness does not depend on us; it's just a painful condition, that's all. And we cannot do anything with ourselves. Only if you wander long in the dark and do not try to get out to the light to make eyesight sharp, you can eventually turn into moles which do not need light at all. They feel perfect underworld, and they do not need any sun-drenched streets and lawns. They feel comfortable under the ground. There, in the underground dark corridors, you quickly get used to it, calm down and do not expect anything else, do not want or dare.
But we are different, aren't we? We peer at the darkness trying to distinguish at least the outlines of those who are around, and it seems that the dawn is about to come, just one needs to make efforts. We remember that the darkest hour is that before the dawn.
Iryna Khalip specially for Charter97.org