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Valentyn Stetsyuk (Lviv, Ukraine)

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Ukrainians in Self-esteem

The stateless existence of the nation for centuries prompted both scientists and politicians to look for reasons for this, and they often found them in the national character of Ukrainians. However, the conclusions were drawn not on the basis of some research using a specific methodology but were based on their own observations and on a superficial analysis of historical facts or folk art without trying to separate the causes and consequences of the peculiarities of being and self-expression of Ukrainians. At the same time, almost no one tried to look at the "Ukrainian soul" from a different angle, and therefore its traditional characteristics remained unchanged. Professor Onatsky wrote about the results of studying the national character of Ukrainians as follows: "All researchers of Ukrainian spirituality unanimously came to the conclusion that Ukrainians are marked by an emotional nature, in the sense that emotions play a big role in their lives and often even prevail over intellect and will" [ONATSKYI Ye. 1992].

This sentence is not very well constructed. All peoples, as well as their individual representatives, are endowed with emotionality and its level cannot be determined without comparison with the emotionality of other peoples, otherwise, the assessment will be unambiguously subjective. It would be more accurate to say that Ukrainians are marked by less emotionality than, say, Italians and more than Swedes. But for this, it is necessary to study not only the character of the Ukrainians but also the same Italians and Swedes. And, on the other hand, it is impossible to study the national character without taking into account the historical, geographical, social conditions in which the nation exists. Further, Professor Onatsky continues: "… each of us had the opportunity to directly observe how easily our people get angry, angry, offended, inflamed, influenced by various demagogues, how easily they believe various slander, how easily they are indignant and change their political orientations." Yes, this can be seen frequently. But is it a national character or a level of culture? The question is not idle, because the fact is indisputable that people at a low level of development in their actions are guided more by emotions than by reason.

In our time, it is generally accepted to think (for example) that the Germans are disciplined and organized people. Yuriy Lipa even wrote that the ancient Goths instilled in Ukrainians "discipline, a sense of order, and the need to obey." However, two thousand years ago, when the Germans were still "barbarians", the lack of discipline in the army prevented the talented German commander Arminius from successfully conducting military operations against the Roman legions. Happened after the first successful attack, the German soldiers rushed to rob the remaining Roman convoy and did not pay attention to the commanders, who urged them to pursue the enemy in order to inflict a final crushing blow on him. Mohammed's warriors in 625 and Ukrainian Cossacks in the Battle of Khotyn in 1621, Polish soldiers in the battle of Berestechko, etc., behaved in the same way. This behavior is probably typical for people who act predominantly under the influence of emotions and have not yet learned to control them with the mind and obey the will of the commanders. But this is not a feature of the national character, it is only the lack of proper and persistent education for several generations. As a result of purposeful work, a person can learn to control his emotions to a greater or lesser extent. On the other hand, even a person himself, under the same conditions, will behave differently depending on the state of the soul, which is influenced by both pleasant and unpleasant events of everyday life. Thus, ordinary observations of people's behavior can lead to erroneous conclusions.

The opinion about extreme Ukrainian individualism is also traditional. In favor of this assertion, facts are cited more often, which can be given a different explanation. And among them may be the immaturity of the researchers themselves, who, having no solid school behind them and violating the laws of logic, operate with poetically defined concepts, and metaphors. For example, let's take the following definition of individualism, given by one of the Ukrainian researchers: "Our individualism is originality, originality of form. Our individualism is pre-philistine freedom, the steppe until it is plowed with a plow, the steppe is wide–will." There is also a lot of emotionality in this definition, which is inappropriate in scientific work, but it would not exist if the researcher was guided in his definition by one fundamental requirement of logic – the definition of any concept is made according to the formula: genus plus specific difference. Good knowledge and understanding of the subject and tools make it unnecessary to use any metaphors and emotions in general.

Since we are talking about researchers of the "Ukrainian soul", one oddity should be noted. It seems that approaching the study theoretically correctly, combining deductive thinking with inductive-empirical experience, researchers already at the second step resort to pure fantasizing. For example, having divided the psyche of Ukrainians into certain components, or "aspects" – racial, geo-psychic, socio-psychic, etc., the scientist begins to reason for himself how the steppe and forest-steppe or the peasant structure of society can influence Ukrainians, already having ready-made ideas about his soul instead of studying that soul in more detail first. A typical example is the search for the origins of the Ukrainian soul in the Trypillia agricultural culture, which allegedly formed certain traits in Ukrainians and special respect for the mother-woman, a kind of newest "matriarchy".

At the next step, explaining the reasons for the emotionality or individualism of Ukrainians, scientists have already explained the failures in the struggle for statehood with these qualities, and it immediately turns out that emotionality and individualism are bad. Churchill's emotionality did not prevent him from being a sober politician, and world discoveries are generally made in an individual way. The question can only be how much a person can control his emotions, regardless of whether they are strong or weak, and whether he can combine individual creativity with a tolerant attitude towards the individuality of others. In the end, Vyacheslav Lipinsky did not consider individualism a great sin, citing the example of the British. The most important is self-control and a realistic assessment of one's own strengths, which makes it possible to find one's place both as an individual in society and as an individual people in a multinational world. It is widely believed that a talented person can succeed in everything. But it's not. A talented writer does not necessarily become an outstanding scientist. And if under the influence of various factors, he undertakes scientific work, then it is unlikely that he will achieve success in this area. In our history, more than once, writers and poets have taken up work that was unusual for them and failed, but this is not a feature of the national character, but only the absence of culture, namely, the culture of critical thinking. And culture, as you know, is brought up by cultured people, and not genetically inherited from them.

Much has also been written about the "lack of will", pessimism, and sentimentalism of Ukrainians. These features were especially emphasized by Dmitro Dontsov. But he, however, like everyone else, spoke about nationally conscious Ukrainians, forgetting about those who served someone else's idea. Meanwhile, an analysis of the character of prominent figures of Poland, Russia or the Soviet Union of Ukrainian origin could contradict many of the conclusions made by the researchers. In contrast to Dontsov, Yuriy Lmpa characterized the ethnopsychology of Ukrainians positively: "This is patience, silent courage, foresight, modesty, caution, persistence from the chosen line, composure in case of failures – is this the image of a settled way of life and at the same time a type of Ukrainian peasant?"

There is another feature of Ukrainian ethnology – attempts to explore Ukrainian spirituality with the help of the works of prominent Ukrainians, but outstanding people cannot be the personification of the typical features of the people due to their originality. The manifestation of genius is purely individual, and although to a certain extent, it influences the development of the national character, it is formed mainly under the influence of other factors. So, let's try to identify the difference in the ethnopsychology of Ukrainians and Russians in their self-expression on the basis of proverbs and sayings collected by Nomis and Dahl.