I have mixed emotions about Nadia Savchenko who was recently freed from captivity in Russia. On the one hand, like many Ukrainians, I admire her stamina and her straightforwardness, her uncompromising character and her love for her country. Those are the features rank-and-file Ukrainians would like to see in their politicians, but instead they see only underhanded maneuvring. On the other hand, I’m not sure whether a person who deliberately walks barefoot in Parliament is the best candidate for presidency. One more thing that made me skeptical about the new “political messiah” for Ukraine was Ms Savchenko’s speech she made at the Final Bell event in the Kyiv school she had once finished. Addressing class-2016 she said she had not particularly liked school, however, as she put it, she grew to be a “normal person.” I don’t think Nadia’s confession gave wings to many young people who were listening to her. For me it sounded as if President Yanukovych could have boasted about his staying in jail for criminal offences, but eventually becoming president. Or as if our today’s Prosecutor General were insisting that there was no need to get a degree in law to occupy his position (he had graduated from a university with a degree in electronic engineering but was forced through to his present position by the President who wanted to see his crony in it).

Last Friday, yours truly and his Class-1966 had a reunion meeting at their school No 32 in the city of Kirovohrad, still bearing the name of the communist leader (and Josef Stalin’s close associate) Kirov before this name is changed in accordance with the De-communization Law now being implemented.  My former classmates entrusted me to deliver a message to this year’s graduates. The naïve and humble retiree (as I turned out to be) addressed the school-leavers with the following quixotic message:

Dear graduates of our school 32, who are finishing this school in the 16th year of the 21st century,

I will probably use a hackneyed but classical comparison saying that  now you are stepping on board a ship which you have been building with your teachers for the last 11 years. We, who were standing at your place 50 years ago, hope that this ship will remain strong and steady, and that its masts will never break, and its sails will never be torn but a favorable wind will always blow into them.

We hope that on the ship you wil be not passengers but an enterprising crew. Don’t hesitate to take responsibilities upon yourselves. A person grows under the weight of duties in the same way as a tree grows by overcoming gravitation.

Remain always young. Being young doesn’t depend upon your physical age. It is believed that a person is young as long as he/she wants to learn. We are sure that our School 32 has charged you with the desire of further learning. We hope that you will not lose the ability to be surprised (the way only children may be surprised) whenever you discover anything or learn anything.

One more wish for you: please come to this school yard (come as many as you are now – without any “losses”) and take part in the Final Bell ceremony addressing Class -2066. Please, say the following words to them: “We remember those incorrigible and never-aging romantics of the 20th century who finished our School a hundred years ago. They were wishing us well before our take-off into Adult Life. Their wishes have materialised: our Life turned out to be long, at times not so simple, but interesting and happy.”

 (Our Class-1966 added a finishing line to my speech: “And don’t forget to invite us for greeting Class-2066 together with you too.” 🙂

 Yes, remembering what Ms Savchenko said, it looks that our times – with their rationality and practicality – have put a stop to the idealism of my youth. However, like Galileo under the pressure of the flightless world, I keep muttering unrepentingly: “AND YET IT MOVES…”


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