An inferiority complex is inherent in Ukrainians. We are talking enthusiastically about countries that, having approximately the same starting conditions as us, have achieved much more. For example, Poland. It is close both territorially, mentally, and historically, because just like Ukraine, it was in captivity of the communist ideology. But it managed to escape from there, it managed to create its own economic miracle. And now it feeds Ukrainian workers and their families. All this is true, but a little different.
Our western neighbor is not without its own shortcomings: in particular, the dominance of Catholic conservatives, who have a significant impact on government policy. The story of the ban on abortion in Poland is a vivid evidence of this. But this is not the only such example.
Minister and virginity
There is such a Minister of Education in Poland—Przemysław Czarnek. Recently, he has been tirelessly working to create as many newsbreaks as possible (perhaps this is his goal—to attract more attention to himself?). For instance, among the priorities of school education for the next year, Czarnek outlined the upbringing in the family of "female virtues", chastity, and obedience among girls.
According to Czarnek, "family values'" in Poland and Europe are under threat. And the Minister sees the solution in the "proper education of girls." "We are not genderists," he comments. Czarnek is convinced that women are to blame for the decline of the family, all responsibility for the family should lie on the shoulders of women, men have nothing to do with it. And if a woman does not have or does not want to have a family, she is inferior. Polish women, however, paid him back in his own coin and responded to the Minister with ironic avatars, and also promised to teach girls real feminine dignity: independence, the ability to defend their own opinions, empathy, high self-esteem, courage, determination, and caring for themselves and their needs.
That is, Jeszcze Polska nie zginęła, and this is already very good. But the right wingers do not just give up.
Now the Polish government has promised to develop a so-called "package of freedom of speech for conservatives." It will enshrine the rights and freedoms of the teachers and scholars who adhere to traditional values. Recently, conservatives have been subject to obstruction in Poland more and more often. This runs counter to the policy of the ruling party Law and Justice which positions Poland as almost the last bastion of true Christianity in the European Union. However, Polish youth are more and more imbued with the "European spirit" and are less and less inclined to adhere to the position of their parents and grandfathers.
In the teeth of the youth, Czarnek states the following:
"In recent years, a trend has come from the West to Poland to silence everyone who disagrees with the liberal view of the world. In recent years, I have been regularly informed that opponents of legal abortion, LGBT values, and gender ideology are being harassed by colleagues at universities. Therefore, we are starting a real fight for the rights of the conservatives."
According to the Minister, responsibility will be imposed for restricting the freedom of speech of teachers, students, and scientists, as well as for their persecution for their personal beliefs.
However, as we joke here in Ukraine, "don’t say "Hop!" until you cross over Chop" (it means "don't cross the bridge until you come to it"). The final decision on the adoption of the "freedom package" has not yet been made. And Poland remains one of the countries of the European Union, and that means that it is at least sensitive to the assessment of its actions and steps in the West.
As for the "collective West", they sharply criticized Andrzej Duda's words in 2020.
"There was Bolshevism that imposed its ideology on children. Today, they are also trying to impose an ideology on us and our children, but a different, completely new one. But this is neo-Bolshevism as well. If ideology sneaks into school in order to change the point of view of children and establish their view of the world, sexualizing them at an early age, then this is contrary to the logic of human maturation in a calm and balanced manner. This is an ideology and nothing else," Duda said a year ago, running for a second presidential term.
Later, these Duda’s words were cited in the report of the US State Department as "an example of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity." The document also quoted the aforementioned Czarnek, a member of Duda's campaign headquarters at that time. Czarnek put it this way about LGBT:
"Let's stop listening to this idiocy about some human rights or some kind of equality. These people are not normal."
For his part, another well-known politician—the chairman of the party Law and Justice and the twin brother of the late President of Poland Jarosław Kaczyński urged:
"We don't need to stand under the rainbow flag. We will stand under the white and red one. We started building a house. The foundation of our home is the family, and we decided to support the family."
Naturally, Kaczyński had in mind a family of the so-called traditional type (in fact, a nuclear family, because the traditional one provides for several generations leading a common life, as, for example, we see in Nechui-Levytsky's story Kaidash's Family—ed.).
Every family has a… Czarnek
Shakespeare’s Prince Hamlet, delighted with the performance of the actor who turned into Hecuba, the widow of King Priam, speaks of the shock from such skill. And It would appear, says Hamlet, "What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba?" To paraphrase the popular expression, one may ask, what is Poland to us? Let it live as it wants. If only it did not encroach on our sovereignty, like another unstable neighbor.
But this is not the correct view of things. Of course, we cannot dictate our rules of the game to Poland. But the planet is too small and the world is too small. Ideas (of any kind) have the ability to circulate and penetrate the minds, even those unprepared. Ukraine has enough of its own Czarneks, their list can be cited for a long time. But here is one of the brightest representatives of this "breed": the mayor of Ivano-Frankivsk Ruslan Martsinkiv, member of the party Svoboda.
On July 19, Mr. Mayor published a post on Facebook expressing his disappointment at the fact that the Ministry of Education "stabbed" Christian ethics in secondary schools. That is, it made it impossible to teach such a subject. We are talking about courses "Fundamentals of Christian Ethics", "Biblical History and Christian Ethics", "Christian Ethics in Ukrainian Culture", "School of Family Life" and the like. "I believe that the study of Christian ethics is necessary and always relevant!" Martsinkiv is indignant. "Do you think children should have such a subject in schools?"
His followers answer the mayor's question in different ways. Someone, of course, writes that yes, Christian ethics is needed. Someone ironically reminds him of the old Soviet slogan "Religion is opium for the people", someone notes that every religion is in too much of a hurry to attract a child into its ranks, performing its rituals on them long before the development of critical thinking, and someone succinctly notes that "you, Mr. Ruslan, are a disgrace to Ukraine."
But all this is indifferent to Martsinkiv. The man known for inviting priests to consecrate elevators in high-rise buildings and the stage after the performance of music bands, who erects a "cross of sobriety" in the city to protect the citizens of Frankiv from alcoholism and who declares that "a gay cannot be a patriot" is unlikely to react to such criticism.
His high rating as mayor is probably due to two factors. Firstly, Martsinkiv is actively involved in the utility sector (and this is a sensitive issue for many townspeople). And, secondly, he personifies certain centrifugal tendencies—at the beginning of the coronavirus epidemic, Martsinkiv was among those mayors who opposed the imposition of a lockdown. And such disobedience to the center was appreciated by the townspeople. But will they like the way Martsinkiv defends and similar "traditional family values"?
Just don't tell Zelenskyy about it
Political scientist Bohdan Petrenko, in a conversation with , does not exclude the possibility that the idea of protecting "family values" can cross the border of the western region and become the "asset" of the entire country.
«When it comes to elections in our country, very often not so topical issues are raised as, perhaps, artificially promoted ones. That is, those that are not really relevant to everyday problems, but people, unfortunately, lap it up. Zelenskyy will no longer enter the second round with "putting corrupt officials behind bars" and "tariff reductions", because all this was in his first cadence. Therefore, he would rather take some kind of artificial issue, the same "traditional values". Especially considering that he is a big fan of speaking up for all the good and against all the bad. And this does not oblige him to anything—the majority of Zelenskyy's voters will be quite happy with this.»
That is, not only the individual head of the regional center can raise the "traditional family" to his banners, but "even" the president:
"Many political forces are now talking about traditional values, but in order to defend them at the state level, they need to have such a weighty subjectivity that, for example, the same Polish parties have. Tracing Poland can occur, but at a more local level. In addition, in our country the implementation of electoral requests always "suffers" in the end."
The fact that politicians in the end do not fulfill their election promises (and this is what Petrenko hints at), of course, is a rather small comfort. Much more reason to rejoice is given by the news mentioned above: the decision of the Ministry of Education not to introduce Christian ethics in schools.
«The biggest problem with these subjects is that they impose religious practices on children and involve uncritical adherence to church tenets. And this not only violates the requirement of the Constitution that education should be secular, but also the fundamental principles of the New Ukrainian School—science, critical thinking, equality, and respect for diversity. In addition, stereotypical and discriminatory ideas about gender roles were imposed on children.»
People's Deputy from the faction Voice (Holos) and lecturer at the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy
"Interestingly," she adds, " that the commission under the Ministry of Education that provided the stamp to programs and textbooks on ethics, included Yevheniia Bilchenko herself, a lecturer at Dragomanov University. It was she who called the law on ensuring the functioning of the Ukrainian language as a state one "a lymphnode on the body of a cancer-stricken American colony", the war of Russia against Ukraine a "fraternal" one and talked about "neo-Nazism" in Ukraine."
In the end, all is well that ends well. And, comparing the situation in Ukraine with the situation in Poland, Sovsun notes that it is unusual to remain the only island of common sense and progressive ideas among the neighbors.
But the example of Poland once again reminds us how vulnerable the values of human rights and freedom in any country are, and we have to fight for them constantly and every day, the deputy said.