Protesters pass the parliament building in central Kiev, Ukraine on Saturday...allegedly (Photo: AP)
If we take away the emotional reactions taking place on all sides of this crisis, we are left with facts. However, it is not as simple to get to the true facts these days as one would think. There are so many sides to this story, just as with any conflict of this nature. One should truly question if what we read in the news is being told objectively. The newspapers in Ukraine, Russia, and the United States, for instance, are all undoubtedly embedding their own personal view in their reporting. A certain amount of bias is unavoidable of course, since it is difficult not to have bias when reporting on such controversial events and when one's individual history will always somehow come into play. Even though journalism is meant to be factual and impartial, this is often not the case for a variety of reasons, whether it is one's position inside or outside of the situation, one's political standpoint, or one's inability to not report from a position of defense or offense.
So before we read the news and then jump to conclusions, we should remember to not take sources, no matter where they come from, at face value. It is easy to vilify one side over another. It is easy to look at situations as either black or white. While at some point we must choose which side we agree with more, first let us sufficiently ask the right questions and not make assumptions until we know as much of the story as possible. Let us not obnoxiously insert an uneducated opinion just because it's the hot topic of the moment. I admit that I have in the past made the mistake of speaking my opinion on a political issue before truly understanding the whole picture.
I realize that seeing a photo in the paper that displays soldiers walking around with weapons in hand, placed above an article about how Russian soldiers are now invading Ukraine, would make one easily assume that Russian soldiers have now invaded Ukraine. And while I am in no way claiming that this is not happening, what I am saying is that we should attempt to question this and all other sources before we make our final decision. Let us be investigative readers who are informed in our opinions. Let us ask questions such as, 'Why should we rely on this source? Are we sure this photo is an honest representation of the current events? Could these be the same Russian soldiers that have been legally placed in Ukraine under the bilateral agreement that has been signed between Russia and Ukraine? Or are these new soldiers that have been sent to Ukraine in response to the conflicts, and therefore not necessarily held legally within the binding of the bilateral contract?'
And additionally, let us do our homework on the situation as a whole. There are some important questions I am asking of this matter. What is the history of the Ukraine-Russia crisis that has led up to this current crisis? Is Russia at all justified in their intervention? Would Ukraine be justified in retaliating in the name of self defense? How do Ukranians and Russians feel about the current crisis?
Instead of just reading articles from Western publications writing on the Ukraine-Russia crisis, I am digging for articles that are not all from the most mainstream Western news sources. When I read the Western sources, there is a clear bias toward Russia. What I find difficult to acquire is an unbiased account of the cold hard facts. Even the articles that claim to provide a straightforward account still do not provide a very deep explanation of what has led to these protests. Yes, we know that the most reported cause of the current riots is linked to President Yanukovych's choice to not sign the EU peace accord in November. But there is more to this story, it is definitely not that simple. These reports should additionally include quotes from actual Russians and Ukranians who are living through this and have families who have been around long enough to know the subtleties of the story that did not just begin when this crisis hit the newsstands.
Someone wisely pointed out to me that this situation is much deeper than just what's going on right now. It is also about where these issues stem from in history and the relationships between the two countries. It is also about the Second World War, and about 25 million people who died fighting Nazism, and the affects on all the generations of families. It is also about the feelings of that disaster and about the feelings on the meaning of nationalism, a nationalism that is also feared.
It is easy to point the finger and make automatic decisions on who is right or wrong. But with any normal family that has its fair share of dysfunction, there is usually no side that is completely free of blame. The U.S. should not just say Russia is wholly wrong just as Russia should not in turn claim that Ukraine is fully in the wrong. And everyone should remember that there's always another side to the story, one that is just as legitimate and worth hearing out.