The thing is that Americans should be following the current crisis in Ukraine. This is an important sociopolitical situation that affects our econom-- OMG, Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis are engaged?!
That Americans don't care about Ukraine because it's too "complicated" is a myth. Americans like complicated. Inception made hundreds of millions of dollars, and I'm still trying to figure out the spinning top at the end. (Wait, so the spinning top at the end means that Leonardo's J. Edgar movie was just a dream? Because that was a really long, boring dream.) Heck, the best way to get an American's attention is to literally list your Facebook relationship status as "it's complicated."
Besides, the situation in Ukraine isn't even particularly complex. The western part of the country generally wants to be economically aligned with the European Union. The eastern part of the country is generally loyal to Russia. The Ukrainian president, Olympic figure skater Victor Petrenko, rejected a deal with the EU and instead accepted a financial bailout from Russian President Vladimir Putin. Angry protests ensued. The police responded with violence. Then a nude Putin, while wrestling a moose with his bare hands, deployed military troops into Ukraine, essentially taking over part of the country. Putin claims the military action is necessary for Russia's personal security and to maintain the sexiness of the Russian's women's curling team. However, the international community sees Putin's actions of aggression as a violation of international law... although the international community does agree that the Russian women's curling team is super hot.
Yet it's just so hard to get Americans interested in this important news story. And it doesn't matter how the headlines are worded. It doesn't matter where the story is posted. So many Americans want nothing to do with European politics. Ukraine is like the new "David Schwimmer's film career."
Some people use the excuse that the Ukraine crisis doesn't affect us. But of course it affects us! It's 2014! It's 2015 if you're reading this next year. We live in a global society. We're all connected. They're listening to Katy Perry all over the world. Your household products are made all over the world. Time Warner's customer service sucks all over the world. Everything affects everybody now. Distance is no longer a justification for ignorance.
Perhaps Euromaidan doesn't affect you directly. But America's same-sex marriage laws only affect the 60 percent of Americans who are actually gay... and yet it seems like everyone has a say in the matter. People think it's important. And it is! It's important because it's happening in our world.
The United States needs to be involved in what's going in with Ukraine. No, I'm not suggesting military action. Our troops already have their hands full fighting this never-ending war against Canada. But we must be engaged -- cognitively, economically, diplomatically.
Despite Russia's brutality, I can understand its desire to maintain a spiritual "ownership" over Ukraine. Ukraine has only been independent from Russian rule since 1991. And even the western part of the country, from what I know of it, feels more "Eastern European" than of the Western world. I dated a Ukrainian girl once. And, honestly, she seemed pretty "Russian" to me -- although she dumped me just like an American would: by text.
Nevertheless, thuggish dictators can't be allowed to invade other countries for financial gain. I believe it was Dick Cheney who first did that... I mean said that. Zing! No, but seriously, we can't. Ukrainians must be able to determine their own nation's fate, through internal political maneuvering and unimpeded citizen protest.
And we, as a world community, can help make this happen without firing a single shot. There are tools at our disposal, be they vocal or economic or Hulk Hogan in nature.
Incidentally, it's simply called "Ukraine" now. It's not "the Ukraine" anymore, which makes sense because the "the" is kind of stupid. I mean, it's not "the Italy" or "the Japan" or "the United States of Ameri-- OK, well, I guess in this case it's OK.
Actually, I would recommend schooling oneself not just on this topic but on Eastern Europe as a whole. The whole place is pretty wacky. The countries just come and go... and just when I learned how to spell "Czechoslovakia." And don't even get me started on Yugoslavia. Heck, I'm still waiting on parts for my Yugo. (The passenger-side door, the steering wheel, and three of the wheels fell off.)
America's attitude and interest toward world events is a statement on our relevance as a society. A strong civilization is one of healthy debate and concern and compassion and anger and even uncertainty. But an empire can't stay strong when it's fueled by collective indifference. The Ming Dynasty wouldn't have lasted nearly as long had it been populated by emo teenagers.
Obviously, we can't know everything about everywhere. Australia is so secretive. But it's not too much to watch the first five minutes of the news, or to read the top headline on your Internet news feed -- the one right above the second headline "Celebrity Reveals Side Boob!"
So my tip of the day is to take a minute, every once in awhile, over the next few weeks, to check up on what's going on in Ukraine. Yes, it's kind of boring, but you can handle it. And who knows? By staying informed, you just might meet the man or woman of your dreams. Eh, probably not. But at least you'll be a little bit smarter.