Thoughts from Kyiv — Afternoon Sunday March 6, 2022

Evil exists. I used to believe Evil was simply a lack of Good. But now I’m convinced: Evil exists and it is active.

Evil exists in pure form: in the motivations of a man who organizes the mass killing other human beings, the destruction of cities, hospitals, schools, homes. Pure Evil is identifiable, concentrated, powerful.

However, Evil can also exist as a force that corrupts Good.

If you are religious, you might think that I am referring to “sin”. Corruption by evil in this context would refer to a temporary deviation in behavior by a person who is fundamentally virtuous. I’m sure that too is caused by Evil, but even though it’s Sunday, the evil of sin is not what I seek to unmask here.

The Evil that currently corrupts our friends in the West is the evil of fear, doubt and hesitance/denial. The corruption it causes is not temporary. This Evil is causing a crisis of souls — a conviction that Good principles are limited in scope by the bounds of self-interest: “it’s not really my problem, so I’ll stand aside and stay virtuous.”

Evil exists. It corrupts people who are generally and mainly good.

This outlook is not a temporary “sin”. It reflects a worldview: a “fortress mentality” whereby the Good (us) must not be allowed to be penetrated by Evil (them). But building fortresses is in itself evil. If the Good is all-encompassing, then to parcel it up, or to give it bounds, can only be the result of its corruption.

I have been reading commentary and discussion on western websites as to the proposed No-Fly Zone over Ukraine. Ukraine’s political leaders and citizenry have been pleading with the West to impose it. NATO leaders, and many non-Ukrainian citizens of western countries resist.

The arguments “against” can be summed up in three main groups.

1) We fear that Putin will react by launching nukes on the West.

2) We doubt whether the Ukrainian cause is truly righteous, after-all NATO did expand eastward, and that may have caused valid Russian security concerns (i.e. Russia’s invasion is the Ukrainians’ own fault).

3) We should wait before engaging Russia directly because maybe this war can be won with proxies (i.e. soldiers of fortune, retired military personnel flying outmoded aircraft, valiant Ukrainians supplied with western weapons, etc.).

These arguments exemplify how Evil corrupts Good: through fear, doubt and hesitance/denial.

I have tried to counter arguments against a No-Fly Zone with appeals to the fundamental values of western democracy: life, freedom, opportunity… These have generally fallen on deaf ears.

Evil exists. It corrupts people who are generally and mainly good.

Thank you to those who demonstrated their support for Good on the squares and streets of cities throughout the civilized world. You are the flame of hope that we here are heard.

The Good must prevail!

Слава Україні!

* Thoughts from Kyiv is a series of flash essays by Mychailo Wynnyckyj from February 2022

Author: Mychailo Wynnyckyj, Ukrainian Social Scientist, Public Intellectual, Academic Development Officer, Professor at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy

Illustration by Christina Katrakis. The Ferryman. Mixed media on canvas, 2010 

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