News stories from Eastern Europe detailing the horrific actions of Russians against Ukrainians are enough to almost crush the spirit of anyone following the news. The photos and videos of the relentless depravity of firing missiles into civilian areas, causing deaths and severe injuries, hit the soul of anyone learning of the events.
As the international community ponders how best to respond to Moscow’s Madman, Russian President Putin, there is one person who has stood erect and remains sure-footed about saying what needs to happen.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy did not slip out of his country when the bombs started to fall. He does not mince words about the thug from Moscow who is on a war of conquest. Instead with resolve, conviction, and utter determination Zelenskyy is providing the world something not seen in such quantity in a very long time.
In just 14 days Zelenskyy has been placed alongside another brave man from the pages of history. Winston Churchill was the essential leader in Britain when the bombs started to fall as a result of another madman. While it certainly takes a ruthless and evil person, Hitler then and Putin now, to create conditions that demand a strong reaction from a leader, let us not forget what else is essential to leadership.
Character. Perhaps I should add, character above all. Zelenskyy has in volumes what Churchill also possessed. It needs noting Putin never possessed character–not even a ruble’s worth.
Zelenskyy has become the most recognized man around the globe. Clearly slated to be Time magazine’s Person of the Year. With absolute courage, a forthright attitude, and seemingly endless energy he is marshaling his people to do all it takes to win. And he is asking, pleading, demanding, and in the end trusting that the world community will all do their part, too, in helping Ukraine not fall to a totalitarian monster.
This morning above the fold in The New York Times the story about Zelenskyy had a Churchillian feel. It made for shivers up my arm as I read the news story.
In a dramatic video address to Britain’s Parliament, clad in his now-famous military fatigue T-shirt, Mr. Zelensky echoed Winston Churchill’s famous words of no surrender to the same chamber at the dawn of World War II as Britain faced a looming onslaught from Nazi Germany.
“We will fight till the end, at sea, in the air,” Mr. Zelensky said with the blue-and-yellow Ukrainian flag draped behind him. “We will fight in the forests, in the fields, on the shores, in the streets.”
The speech, the first-ever by a foreign leader to the House of Commons, was the climax of Mr. Zelensky’s darkest-hour messaging to fellow Ukrainians and the world in what has become a typical 20-hour day for him in Kyiv, the besieged capital.
There is a famous political cartoon from history that shows where Churchill was in the 1940s. We know in Ukraine Zelensky now leads in much the same way. With steely resolve.
“All Behind You, Winston.” Created by David Low, Evening Standard, 14 May 1940. Front row: Churchill, Attlee, Bevin, Morrison, Amery. Visible behind them are Chamberlain, Halifax, Sinclair, Duff Cooper, and Eden. (British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent, http://www.cartoons.ac.uk)
Elsewhere there is no shortage of current political cartoons and front pages of newspapers that underscore the linkage between these two world leaders. While no one can write history until it plays out, I know who has almost the entire world praying for him and his people.
And so it goes.