It has become customary for presidential candidates in the U.S.A. elections to engage in debates, which are considered a part of election process. The main target in these debates are undecided voters. I don’t think that either a Republican or a Democratic candidate would win the election if he refused from debates while the candidate from the opposing party would insist on such debates. However, what cannot happen in another country, happens in Ukraine. In the 2010 presidential election campaign the candidate Yanukovych was supposed to discuss the most controversial issues of the time with his opponent Yulia Tymoshenko. That evening Viktor Yanukovych, showed the white feather and didn’t come for TV debates, which is why Yulia Tymoshenko was speaking to an empty chair. After a few days Yanukovych was elected President, and a year later Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years imprisonment on laughable charges by a kangaroo court.

Don’t these two approaches to debates reflect the mentalities of the American and Ukrainian peoples? In the U.S.A. they think that a person must be able to think clearly and to express himself in order to act rationally. If the person is tongue-tied, it means that his understanding of the things under discussion is poor and he will hardly act positively.

In Ukraine a taciturn person creates an impression of a person who acts and gets things done – a “man of deeds, not words”. In a similar way, politeness may be considered a sign of weakness, and a smile addressed to a person you don’t know – a strangeness of character. To say that a person is given to smiling (Russ. улыбчивый) would imply a rather negative characteristics.

I earnestly believe that before Ukraine gets into Europe, as it declares it would like to, it should learn to appreciate an intelligent speech, to accept politeness as a value, and to give a friendly smile to somebody who is “just a stranger.”



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