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Member Viewpoints:
The Ukrainian Universe

By Ihor Wyslotsky - ihorchicago@aol.com

Letters from our members do not necessarily reflect the position or viewpoint of the Ukrainian Engineers' Society of America.

The events of major historic proportions, of barely a decade ago, have forever eradicated the Soviet Union from the map. The threat of the bolsheviks taking over the world has vanished, gone. Ukraine, the "The Unexpected Nation" emerged and claimed it's natural right to exist free. Armed with world's third largest nuclear arsenal Ukraine had, for a time, the ace card. The world powers had to negotiate and to agree to Ukraine's independence and to it's security. For this the Economist named Ukraine "The Unruly Child of Europe," an influential western intelligence agency issued a report predicting a very short lived statehood for Ukraine. Russia's foreign minister Kozyrev used that report to the detriment of the fledgling new state.

In spite of the adversity, Mr. Krawchuk stayed the course and Ukraine obtained the right to exist as an independent country. Ukraine also gained the security assurances. For a while, at least, Ukraine became the "obedient child", even something of a darling of the West. This, however did not last long. Very soon Ukraine became the forgotten child. With all tangible and non-tangible state assets of USSR located in the world having been awarded to Russia, Ukraine was left to it's own devices and at a mercy of academic prodigy wunderkinds, each with impressive academic backgrounds and rather limited understanding of the unfolding historic event and a deep human drama. The laissez-faire capitalism has a place in a legislated, democratic and open society with a strong and independent judiciary. A functioning democracy is built from the bottom up. For the democracy to function, the society has to reach a compact and form the laws within that compact. Only then the government is elected to implement the law. Ukraine followed the free market teachings. The economy was set free and a loosely legislated, lawless market economy was created. In this vacuum a window of opportunity was offered, for those in power, to strip the country of it's assets and to acquire the license to exploit the population. In a society ruled by law the individuals with such initiative would have been very constructive for the country. In the haste to implement the "shock therapy" no legislative base for such drastic changes was provided. Being in a haste to capitalize on the newly acquired status, the new overlords started dumping on the world markets the goods that their new assets were producing. The world markets reacted and soon exorbitant duties were imposed on goods from Ukraine. The Ukrainian business acquired a terrible name. The markets closed for the Ukrainian goods.

The Ukrainian diasporaís acceptance of the independence, at first spontaneously exuberant, then clouded by reports of itís doubtful future was accepted with mixed emotions. To many it was a disappointment. Ukraine was not what we dreamed about and what our forefathers left behind, now generations ago. The experiment was not what we expected and the politicos of Ukraine were not listening to our advise. This was, and still is heard more frequently then not. For the dreamers of ideal Ukraine it is difficult to accept that the genesis of the political development is taking place in Ukraine and not abroad. Yet slowly the reality is setting in and ever more we come to terms with the new landscape which emerged after the plate tectonics shifted in the Ukrainian Universe.

The New Landscape

The historic developments and the consequent catharsis of the diaspora community made clear that the centripetal forces in our community and the circled wagons around our camp, are now much less relevant to our self preservation. It is ever more obvious that circled wagons philosophy must be disbanded and replaced with a live and active ideological position based on our moral and cultural strength coupled with our desire to be part of the world. In order to be alive, this process must continually tap the source, it must be continually strengthened from it's fountain. Equipped with continually replenishing cultural strength from Ukraine, bolstered by economic progress, we in the diaspora, for the first time in the modern history, are able to enter the mainstream of our communities as contributors and as partners. We have witnessed the shifting of the tectonic plates. This displacement has created a new landscape and it is still undergoing the aftershocks as it is gradually settling. This newly created landscape is by far more favorable to Ukrainians, world wide, and in Ukraine. We need to react, learn and adjust to it. In the process of returning to a growth pattern, Ukraine offers the opportunity of economic growth to the diaspora as well. It offers the unprecedented opportunities for business entrepreneurship for the open minded and willing to persevere. The developing well being of Ukraine has a great potential to reflect directly on the well being of Ukrainians in the whole world.

Diaspora Organizations

Most Ukrainian organizations in the diaspora are fulfilling functions which are needed by our communities. Others, in the new landscape, are going through the process of soul searching for their missions in the new landscape. As the result, some may become obsolete. UESA was formed half a century ago by a group of Ukrainian engineers for the purpose of keeping us together, learning from each other about employment and other opportunities and, yes, to get together now and then and to play a game of bridge, usually after the monthly meeting of the branch. This was the motivation. As time passed, every one understood that for a true professional development one had to belong to professional American engineering society. UESA could not offer the services of such large organizations. The need to periodic meetings gradually waned as other social interests and gathering venues for each member developed. Rightfully so, we are questioning ourselves what is UESAís mission today. This questioning is very healthy. It means that the Society is alive.

Within the new landscape, many organizations, which are alert and which are reacting to th new landscape, are researching for new missions and many are finding them. The Ukrainian Medical Group is doing a wonderful work in medicine in many parts of Ukraine, the Ukrainian National Association (UNA) is organizing an insurance promotion drive for itís own strengthening yet, ultimately for the benefit of the Kyiv Mohyla Foundation of America. This action is strengthening UNA and it is building intellectual strength at Kyiv Mohyla Academy. Self Reliance, FCU is actively pursuing the founding and cooperating in the establishment and operation of similar institutions in Ukraine. Other organizations, with alert leadership are restructuring as well. UESA, as an engineering and technology body, by definition, has a very important function in any society. UESA functions for the benefit of the Ukrainian community, contributing to itís strength. The Society can also be a vehicle for the economic improvement of the Ukrainian community in the world. Such improvement is very feasible when coupled with the development of business.

In parallel with this the Ukrainian Engineering Society of America can perform a unique and outstanding service for the community and for itself. The proposed service can materialize in a project which will be tying together, to a center in Kyiv, all Ukrainian communities around the world into one electronic communications network which will bring us all together. A continuous stream of culture would emanate from the center to all Ukrainian settlements in the whole world. Taking advantage of the modern means of communications, we can today create a surrogate equivalent to the German Goethe Institute or French Alliance Francaise with a much more cost effective base. The IT center at Kyiv Mohyla Academy in Kyiv is anxious to launch this program. The proposed electronic network would serve the needs of a Ukrainian school in Curitiba, Brazil or in Obera, Argentina or Ridna Shkola in Chicago, New York, Luhansk, Lviv or elsewhere. The most remote locations would be informed on all developments in Ukraine through an open, non controlled e-media. It would be accessible to every school, organization or individuals everywhere. The Ukrainian Engineering Society of America, by sponsoring such a program, would have a mission, purpose and a function to fulfill. Funding for a project of this magnitude is low and the benefits can be immeasurably large. It can have a historic significance.

Once established the network can be amplified to the business development of the Ukrainian communities. Never before was business more tied to the technology or the technology to the business. It is in our hands. In the hands of the engineers.

Written in Ottawa, Ontario
Ihor Wyslotsky - ihorchicago@aol.com

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