It was William Shakespeare's character Malvolio, in Act III of the play "Twelfth Night," who said, "Some are born great... some achieve greatness... and some have greatness thrust upon them." It's an important quote, especially given what is going on in the world right now. We have been watching as a powerful autocrat, Vladimir Putin of Russia, invades the neighboring country of Ukraine, trying to take it over-- the first step in his dream of one day re-creating the old Soviet Union.
Of course, Ukraine has no desire to be part of Mr. Putin's dream. Ukraine is a free and independent country, and it would like to stay that way. It does not want to rejoin the Soviet Union, nor does it want to be ruled by Russia. All over the world, including in Russia (where protesting has been criminalized by Mr. Putin), people understand that. Many have been marching and demonstrating in support of Ukraine, and against what Russia is doing.
The Ukrainian military is badly outnumbered, but as I write this, they've held Russia at bay, much to Mr. Putin's surprise. They have fought bravely, refusing to give up and refusing to give in. And what has been especially inspiring is the leadership of Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelensky.
Few people expected him to come through. After all, he was a former comedian and actor, and when he was elected, his presidency got off to a slow start. Many in his country began wondering if he would ever be the kind of leader Ukraine needed. But as it turned out, he was exactly the kind of leader Ukraine needed, and the past few weeks have proved it.
President Zelensky has rallied his country, giving eloquent speeches in defense of democracy. He has motivated his fellow Ukrainians, even as he fearlessly confronted Vladimir Putin. Zelensky had at one time played the role of a president on TV. Now, he was doing what an actual president should do, refusing to back down, refusing to let Mr. Putin intimidate him. (He even endured the bizarre spectacle of the Russian leader calling him a Nazi-- Mr. Zelensky is Jewish and he lost relatives in the Holocaust, making Putin's name-calling even more offensive.)
I'm not good at predicting the future, so I cannot say with certainty that Ukraine will win this war. It's a war that should never have happened, and the Ukrainians who are fighting to preserve their young democracy deserve our support. I applaud President Biden for bringing the allies together and getting everyone in NATO on the same page. It wasn't an easy thing to accomplish, but he got it done. Mr. Biden understands what's at stake, and whether you like him or not, the fact remains that he too has risen to the occasion.
But the person who deserves the most praise is the former comedian, the former TV actor, the man everyone underestimated. Volodymyr Zelensky has had greatness thrust upon him, and he wears it well. May his leadership continue, may Ukraine's independence survive, and may all the enemies of democracy be defeated...whether in Russia or wherever else they may be.