What motivates Ukrainian boxing stars and champions Vasyl Lomachenko, Oleksandr Usyk and Vitali Klitschko, and supermodel Anastasia Lena to leave behind their lives of fame and glory to don the military uniform of their country?
What moves Yuriy Vernydu, coach of the Sheriff Tiraspol professional football team, to replace the whistle for a rifle and bayonet?
What drives thousands of Ukrainians not to flee from danger and to stay in their country to fight the invaders from Russia, with its superior military power?
The answer is simple: love of country.
The exercise of dignity to defend the fundamental principle of national sovereignty. The elementary idea that, in the face of unquestionable injustice, one always has personal courage and dignity as the best weapons to defend oneself, at whatever cost.
It is absolutely understandable and justifiable that thousands of Ukrainians have had to leave their country and take refuge in Poland, crowding the few railway cars that make the journey. It is a basic act of survival: protecting children from the tragic consequences that often accompany the atrocities of war.
But when CNN correspondent Clarissa Ward asked a Kharkiv resident why she had decided to stay in the city, the woman answered with great determination that she had no reason to flee, that Ukraine was her homeland and that if someone had to get out, it was the Russian invaders.
And that patriotism is the fuel that encourages the unwavering will of the Ukrainians to heroically contain the advance of one of the most powerful armies in the world, in the face of a militarily superior force, not only because of the number of soldiers, but also because of the sophistication of its war weaponry.
Before the eyes of the world, we have seen how ordinary women and men of all ages, young and old, mothers and sisters, are wielding arms and risking their lives to stop the invasion. On one of the access bridges to the capital Kiev, this improvised army held off a column of Russian tanks. Images of the smoking remains of a tank went viral on social media. Someone could rename that scaffolding as “the bridge of dignity”.
Ukraine and Ukrainians are teaching the world a lesson: when it comes to defending the motherland, your home, your family, on the principle of not being intimidated by a bully and doing everything humanly possible to stop an unjustifiable injustice, everything is put on the line, even life itself.
And how not to mention the thousands of Russians (at least 6,000 have already been arrested) who put their own security at risk to condemn in the streets the inadmissible invasion ordered by their president. And tens of thousands more who have done it in European cities and here in Washington, Boston and other cities. More and more governments and organizations are imposing sanctions on Russia and showing solidarity with Ukraine by sending arms and food.
We do not yet know the outcome of this heinous invasion, but the world is teaching Vladimir Putin a lesson: We are all Ukraine.