Posted on March 30, 2020

COVID-19 in a White Country

Yaroslav Podvolotskiy, American Renaissance, March 30, 2020

I live with my wife and son in Ukraine without the blessings of diversity. Thanks to worldwide coverage of the pandemic, I can see how well COVID-19 mixes with diversity.

It seems to me that diversity and panic tend to go together. Because I’m an American, most of my attention has been on the United States, where governors and mayors are calling out the National Guard and imposing or threatening to impose restrictions on what you can do.

In Ukraine, schools and many businesses are closed. Early on, there was fear and even anger about the restrictions we face. People were particularly upset about the public transport shutdown and they worried about food shortages. But people are calm. Those who work paycheck to paycheck will struggle for several weeks, but, there are no threats to deploy the army or ministry of internal affairs troops. There has been no panic buying, at least not as the United States. In the grocery stores, I see orderly lines of pleasant people buying only what they need to buy.

One reason people are orderly is that Soviet Baby Boomers and Gen Xers went through severe food rationing in the late ’80s and early ’90s as the Soviet Union collapsed. But there is something else. I’m reminded of how I hear Britons acted during the Blitz. They were calm, orderly, and confident enough in themselves and in their King and government.

People in Ukraine certainly do not trust their government, but they believe in themselves and each other. In a crisis, they know they have a network of friends and family. In my village, my neighbor lets me use his backyard well until I can get one drilled. Another neighbor offered to help me burn a pile of junk I cleaned out of my barn, while a second has offered to help me replace the out-of-date electrical wiring in my house.

In exchange, I have offered free English lessons to the daughter of the man who gives me water. Other neighbors know that they can count on me to help with projects I know how to complete. Since the trains are not running, my car is a free taxi for those dependent on the rails. The other day I remarked to my wife that this must have been how settlers on the frontier survived: they helped each and didn’t give it a second thought. No one here is rushing to the gun store.

There was a time in the United States when people depended on their neighbors and those neighbors depended on them. That was when the county was 90 percent white. You can’t have an Ozzie and Harriet society and diversity. In America, the government has to step in when there’s a crisis because so many people can’t count on neighbors.

In Ukraine, we may all be poor or on the edge of poverty, but at least we have a country. I feel a sense of solidarity with those around me that I never felt in the United States. I know that no matter what happens, my family and I will be safe.