If you haven’t heard by now, last week Russia escalated its war on Ukraine by invading. I think it’s an important detail that sometimes gets overlooked. Russia has occupied parts of Ukraine for about 8 years now. This invasion is just another extension of a policy of violence.
My heart goes out to the people of Ukraine. Over the past few months, I had to watch as one nation built up troops on another nation’s border. Blame had been going around in the 24-hour news cycle. All of it forgets that there are real people dying over whatever excuses – real and imagined – strike a person’s fancy.
What makes this hard to bear is that there’s nothing I can do to help. I have neither a passport nor the funds to donate. The local blood banks won’t even take my blood – the irony being it’s because I lived in Europe in the late 80’s/early 90’s. All I can do is sit and wait and hope that the people of Ukraine can outlast their tormentors.
The tragedy doesn’t just end with Ukraine. Others are going to suffer too, from refugees to foreign volunteer fighters to ordinary Russian soldiers who had no say where they were going. In the latter’s case, I hope many of them find a way to surrender in protest. Perhaps if enough of them do, the Russians responsible for this attack will be forced to see sense and sue for peace.
I don’t know if sanctions or strong rhetoric from Europe will help. Threats of them did not stop this invasion from happening. People are now dead. Nobody knows how many more will perish while the world waits for an outcome to occur. Russia’s been in Ukraine for almost 8 years. No one can promise this won’t last for another 8.
Again, my immediate concern is for the people in Ukraine who have no choice but to be exposed to this violence. It has come to my attention that Ukraine’s national flower is the sunflower. I heard about it from reports of a Ukrainian woman offering a Russian soldier sunflower seeds. She told him to put them in his pocket, so that when he dies, something beautiful will grow from the ground. I have been struck by her courage as well as the courage of Ukrainians like her.
I hope the people of Ukraine survive this. I hope that they will get to see their sunflowers grow on their own free soil. And I hope that there won’t be too many soldiers feeding the flowers.
Glory to Ukraine.