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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

A relict, albeit promising, Ukrainian,

or Seven lessons from Bohdan Hawrylyshyn
18 October, 2011 - 00:00
Photo by Kostiantyn HRYSHYN, The Day

On the coming Tuesday, October 18, Ukraine House will host a high-profile intellectual event – the launching of Remaining Ukrainian, a book of reminiscences by Bohdan Hawrylyshyn, a noted economist, founder of the Davos economic forum, and member of the Club of Rome. The Day will write more about the book and the first readers’ comments next week. And now a little about the history of this book. A few days before the book was published, Mr. Hawrylyshyn, a longtime reader of and contributor to Den/The Day, offered in a letter to the editor-in-chief Larysa Ivshyna to write an afterword to the book. We suggest that you read this text that comes at the end of the memoirs Remaining Ukrainian.

I remember watching recently a short documentary about Bohdan Hawrylyshyn on the Culture TV channel. The footage showed him in his native village of Koropets, Ternopil oblast. You could see and hear Hawrylyshyn recollecting his parents and life in his homeland with respect, warmth, piety, but without artificial bombast. His recounting of the early-20th-centuty Ternopil region was full of eloquent details and touches. One of them was etched on my memory: there were only two books – the Bible and Taras Shevchenko’s Kobzar – at the parental home.

So the great books set up a high bar. It is the first lesson that is important for today’s young people.

A great book can give a spiritually-keen reader much more than an unsystematic and indiscriminate absorption of terabytes of a globalized informational space. But the acceptance and perception of such texts would have been impossible without the beneficial ethic ground, intellectual sensitivity, and the values that were introduced into Hawrylyshyn’s world in an early age. According to the reminiscences, his father traveled a lot and saw the way people lived in various countries.

The second key lesson: the right proportions of the world.

I am convinced that the broad horizon of the Club of Rome’s future member began to be formed at that very time.

It is important for a living and aspiring soul to know that there is a great dream in the world. One must come closer to it step by step every day. I think it was at an early stage that Hawrylyshyn worked up a colossal, albeit selective, intellectual appetite which has allowed him, throughout his lifetime, to apply precious knowledge to an already formed system of values.

Then he would come across true giants on his life path. I will name only two of them: Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky, whose blessing Hawrylyshyn still remembers with gratitude, and Otto von Habsburg.

And it is the third lesson: the role of a personality in the life of another personality.

It is important for me, the Den editors, and our readers that Bohdan Hawrylyshyn wrote specially for this newspaper his reminiscences of an incredible personality, a true uncrowned king, who departed this life last July (see the article “Remembering Otto von Habsburg” in Den, No. 119, July 12, 2011). A great Ukrainian wrote about a great Austrian and a good friend of our people. It is so important that the Ukrainians, who still have a lot of artificial complexes, could appreciate the luxury of thinking in unison with unconventional individuals.

The prominent academic wrote his famous book Towards More Effective Societies. Roadmaps to the Future in 1979 in English. First published in English, it was later translated into German, French, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, and Polish, Ukraine was then in the Soviet Union’s “can” that was tightly sealed and isolated from too valuable knowledge. Hawrylyshyn noted that he had to wait until 1990, the time of great changes, for his book to be published in his native language.

The fourth lesson: the way effective patriotism looks.

As soon as the first opportunity emerged, Hawrylyshyn brought the most valuable thing he had acquired – the modern knowledge of the world problems – into the intellectually impoverished Ukrainian space.

Our meeting with Bohdan Hawrylyshyn also occurred in the aureole of education. When the first Ukraina Incognita Library book came out, I planned to make the first tour of this country’s universities. After the very first forum, the administration of Nizhyn Teacher-Training University requested me to continue intellectual communication with the students. I began to think: who can be the most convincing interlocutor, who can understand the wide world and, at the same time, bears a concentrated charge of Ukrainianness? I immediately thought about Hawrylyshyn and phoned him. Although we barely knew each other at the time (it was 2002), he easily agreed to make a journey to Nizhyn. It may be for somebody just a district center in Chernihiv oblast, but for Hawrylyshyn the University of Nizhyn is Gogol’s alma mater! This shaped the format of his communication with students, which helped me personally discover an extraordinary human generosity and a colossal pedagogical potential in the broad sense of the word.

The fifth lesson: a powerful personality is usually simple and free of fuss and vanity.

From time to time, Hawrylyshyn just phoned in to support me. He readily endorsed the idea of forming the Ostroh Club for Free Intellectual Communication of Young People and promised to find time to mingle personally with its members. It is he who supported the publication of Extract + 200, the 11th book of our newspaper library. And when Hawrylyshyn came to know about the Den Summer School of Journalism this year, he immediately said he intended to meet the students. This person-to-person meeting was perhaps as big an event for the students as are meetings with his great teachers for Hawrylyshyn.

The sixth lesson spelt out by Bohdan Hawrylyshyn himself: “Giving something brings much more pleasure than consuming something.”

This displays a relict, albeit promising, Ukrainian.

Many of our compatriots of different waves of emigration have fitted in with the Western world and achieved decent living standards, but not so many of them have become world-famous public intellectuals who still have not forgotten that they are Ukrainians. We can gratefully recall Ivan Lysiak-Rudnyts-ky, Yevhen Malaniuk, Ulas Samchuk, Roman Szporluk…

Bohdan Hawrylyshyn left Ukraine as long ago as 1943. Over this time span, he has followed a path from a displaced persons camp to international acclaim, teaching in 70 countries, and consulting multinational companies. Living predominantly abroad, he always remains Ukrainian. He knows many languages, but his Ukrainian sounds natural and melodious.

The seventh lesson is decisive and sounds almost like a national idea: identity and modernization.

When you, Ukrainians, are going to other places, you do not need to become German, Russian, or American.

As a role model for Ukrainian youth, Bohdan Hawrylyshyn could say as follows: do not fear to think independently and dream daringly.

By Larysa IVSHYNA, editor-in-chief, Den/The Day