The language has always been the cornerstone of the Ukrainians’ centuries-long struggle for the right to have a state of their own with all its attributes. We can name hundreds, without an exaggeration, outstanding people who took part in this struggle one way or another. A large number of them were Gulag camp prisoners, many were destroyed physically. Suffice it to recall Bykivnia and Sandarmokh whose 80th sorrowful anniversary we are marking this year. And how many unfairly forgotten names there still are on the language field of victory! And the ongoing war in eastern Ukraine was caused, to a large extent, by the language question. The battles that broke out in some European countries over Article 7 of Ukraine’s recently passed education law show that the language problem is increasingly topical, especially on the political field.
This only adds importance to the National Radio’s initiative to hold the 17th All-Ukrainian Radio Dictation of National Unity on November 9. The Ukrainian Radio began this practice after the establishment of Ukrainian Language Day on November 9 to honor the memory of Venerable Nestor the Chronicler (Decree No. 1241/97 of the President of Ukraine “On Ukrainian Language Day”). The name of Nestor the Chronicler (c. 1056, Kyiv – c. 1144), a writer, hagiographer, founder of the Ancient Ruthenian historiography, first historian of Kyivan Rus’, scholar, thinker, and monk at the Kyivan Cave Monastery, is obviously known to everybody – first of all, for his more-than-20-year-long self-denying work The Tale of Bygone Years.
This outstanding chronicle (1113) is not only an invaluable historical document of Kyivan Rus’, but also one of the most prominent milestones in world culture. This titanic opus covers historical events on the territory of Ancient Rus’ in the contest of common human historical processes and focuses on common human values and problems. Like The Tale of Igor’s Campaign, this chronicle is an undoubted hallmark of Ukraine’s Europeanness. The well-known writer and critic Mykhailo Slaboshpytsky called Nestor “the father of Ukrainian history” and said that his heritage was literary and historical, artistically brilliant and concretized. According to historians, the personality of Nestor is impressive for its learnedness, industry, morality, purity, honesty, firmness, self-sacrificingness, and patriotism. He was a stoic who tried, courageously and steadfastly, to reach the summits of spirituality. For his descendants, he is a model of true Man. Cicero’s formula “A man lives to become Man” is quite applicable to him. It is worthwhile to heed his opinions, such as “Learning by books is very useful, for we draw wisdom and restraint from the words of books.”
Venerable Nestor belonged to the most educated people of Kyivan Rus’ in the late 11th – early 12th centuries. Let us be proud of having the example of such a humanist. Let us try to follow him and rise as a monolithic educated nation. Nestor the Chronicler stood up for the unity of people, reproved princes for their imprudent enmity, and warned about danger. He was not indifferent to the destiny of his native land. So let us step out of the shadow of this enlightener, the true son of the Ukrainian soil, and do things the way he did in his hard life.
The radio dictation is a unique occasion for all of us to unite for the sake of the Ukrainian language.