They reminded us that we can believe things with more or less intensity, weakly, with words, or deeply and fervently, with conviction in the bones. They reminded us how the events of recent years have contributed to weakening our faith in ourselves. They reminded us of how setbacks and humiliations (Donald Trump, Afghanistan, racial injustice, political dysfunction) have caused us to doubt and be passive about the gospel of democracy. But despite all our failures, the gospel is still resoundingly truthful.
It has been a week of restored faith. In what exactly? Well, first of all, in leadership. We’ve seen so many leadership failures lately, but over the past week Volodymyr Zelensky has become everyone’s leader – the guy in the T-shirt, the Jewish comedian, the guy who doesn’t fled but who knew what to say: “I need ammunition, not a round.
It wasn’t just Zelensky. Joe Biden has masterfully and humbly helped organize a global coalition. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz understood the moment. Just like Emmanuel Macron from France and Fumio Kishida from Japan. Across government, business and the arts, we have been well led this week.
Faith in true patriotism has been restored. In recent years, we have seen so much sour right-wing ethnonationalism, a form of angry, xenophobic patriotism. From the left, we have seen a disdain for patriotism, from people who vaguely support abstract national ideals while showing limited gratitude to their own heritage; people who rightly focus on national crimes, but neglect national achievements. Some elites, meanwhile, have drifted into soulless globalism, an effort to rise above nations in an ethereal multilateral stratosphere.
But Ukrainians have shown us how the right kind of patriotism is ennobling, a source of meaning and a reason to risk one’s life. They showed us that a love of a particular place, of their own land and people, warts and all, can be part and parcel of a love for universal ideals, like democracy, liberalism and freedom. .