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13 April, 2012

Everyone Is Guilty in Oksana Makar’s Death

We can reassure ourselves that both the crime committed against Oksana Makar and her eventual death struck like lightning out of the blue sky. It was an unexpected natural cataclysm that could not possibly been foreseen or prevented. There is a great temptation in this horrible story to pin all the blame on the three young men that committed the crime. But in fact, the indifference and conformism of each one of us are the true root of problem that resulted in the rape and death of the girl.

If we need new victims like Ihor Indylo, Makar and thousands of other people whose names are unknown to us, we can search for the underlying cause in harmful TV series or action films that promote the cult of violence. But we need to muster courage and ask ourselves: What have I done to prevent this crime?

In 1982, two Harvard-based researchers, James Wilson and George Kelling, formulated the broken windows theory. According to the theory, if someone breaks a window in an abandoned house and no-one replaces it, soon all windows in that house will be broken and looting will start. Clear signs of disorder and departure from accepted norms of behaviour prompt other people to also forget about rules and behave like pigs. Eventually, a chain reaction results, and a decent urban neighbourhood can quickly turn into a foul and a dangerous place to live.

The broken windows theory has another merit: it shows what human indifference can lead to. And it points to the only correct way to overcome most social maladies. It demands that citizens keep only three simple rules: do not loiter, clean up loitered places in a timely and quick manner and do not let others loiter.

The destructive force of indifference was also noted by Polish writer Bruno Jasienski who famously wrote in the novel Zmowa obojętnych (A Conspiracy of the Indifferent): “Do not fear your enemies. The worst they can do is kill you. Do not fear friends. At worst, they may betray you. Fear those who do not care; they neither kill nor betray, but betrayal and murder exist because of their silent consent.”

Catastrophes (not human-made) and tragedies make all of society responsible.

For example, the “mysterious” death of the student Indylo was a result of the unwillingness of previous state leaders, including former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko who is now behind bars, to reform the Ministry of Internal Affairs. After this young man was killed in a police department, no-one put any special pressure on parties and presidential candidates to commit to a reform of law enforcement agencies. That is the reason why we see, time and time again, new reports of people being tortured by the police.

At elections, we do not cast our ballots for people who propose systemic reforms. We choose populists who offer a wide assortment – from cheaper bread and utilities, free education and health care to the simple promise to remove Viktor Yanukovych from power.

To many citizens — even those with good awareness — elections are not a tool with which to determine the future for themselves and their children and give preference to any available alternatives and concept of development. Elections have turned into an opportunity to fleece politicians. At the same time, donations from average citizens are the main source of income for electoral funds in all civilised countries.

What can be said of a people who have turned one of the effective ways in which citizens can influence the election process — I mean rallies, protests marches and pickets — into a source of personal income? Both the opposition forces and the government take advantage of this approach.

We sheepishly put up with drunken groups who go out into the streets to “beat suckers”. We do not care when domestic violence erupts in a neighbouring family causing the children to run outdoors. We prefer not to see a catastrophe in the upbringing of children. For example, we are happy that remittances come from Ukrainian labour migrants who work abroad but fail to see their children who are left without proper care in Ukraine.

In fact, if we take a closer look at Makar’s biography, we will see that she was a victim of this lack of upbringing and family care. Her indiscreet actions were the steps that led to a tragedy.

By being indifferent and apathetic and by silently accepting the status quo we become accomplices to every crime committed in the country. The demoralisation of society is manifested in a failing state.


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