As I write this post this morning, my heart is heavy, knowing the beautiful city show above, Kyiv (often also Westernized as Kiev), is under attack by Russian troops seeking to take over the country. There have been explosions and fighting and already hundreds of deaths and casualities, many if not most of them among civilians.
Any time there is any kind of armed conflict like this is a source of pain. Like what I imagine everyone else feels, I’m sad about the loss of life, the tearing apart of families, the destruction of homes and communities and schools and other facilities, both gorgeous and commonplace. I regret the failure of our institutions to prevent this war, which we’ve seen coming for quite a while. And I feel guilty about the role that I believe that past US policies have played in letting down Ukraine and encouraging Russia.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has remained in Kyiv while acknowledging that he is Russia’s Target #1…and his family is Target #2. He has called upon Russian President Vladimir Putin to engage in peace talks to prevent the loss of more lives, but Russia has indicated that only total capitulation by the Ukraine will satistify them. Zelensky also claimed that his European allies could be doing more to stop Russian aggression.
I don’t know about that, but I suspect Zelensky is probably right. And, of course, the US dragged Zelensky and the Ukraine into our internal political fights prior to the 2020 elections, including the infamous phone call that led to former President Trump’s first impeachment by the US House of Representatives (although he was not convicted in his trial in the US Senate). While President Biden has announced our support for Ukraine in the strongest terms, I can’t help feeling that as a country, we failed to support Ukraine in the past in a way that might have prevented this war.
So what can we as individuals do to help alleviate this situation? I don’t know. From what I’ve read, the number one thing Ukraine is requesting immediately from average citizens is money. I’m not going to list places here because I haven’t vetted them personally, but online there are places to donate to buy supplies for the Ukrainian military, if that is your preference, and other places to donate for humanitarian support of people displaced or injured by the conflict. One place where I have given some money is an English-language newspaper produced in the Ukraine called The Kyiv Independent (kyivindependent.com). It seems to be an independent and reliable source of information coming directly from the Ukraine, rather than filtered through our Western media sources. I appreciate being able to read what is going on directly from the people living through this event in addition to my usual US or European journalistic sources.
Of course, we can also support Ukraine in non-material ways. I believe sending positive energy to the country and the people, whether through prayer or meditation or chanting or music or whatever spiritual practice you engage in, can only help. I also believe in including the Russian people in such energy, many of whom don’t want this war either––although, of course, there are many who do. Even in the US, there are some famous people who have publically supported Russia in what they are doing…but I’m not going to dignify their remarks by saying anything more than that. Nevertheless, in general I don’t think anybody wins when we go to war, and I definitely believe that about this war. So I personally will be sending energy to Russia to return to a state of peace in addition to sending energy to Ukraine to be sustained through and healed from this conflict.
My perspective may not be that insightful or helpful. This is an evolving situation, and perhaps my wisdom will grow. But wanting to shine some light, bring some hope to a terrible situation, I will end this post with something that always inspires ME, at least, which is the subject of heroes.
To me, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is a hero in this situation. Despite the personal danger to himself and his family, he has stayed at his post, trying to support his people and trying to inspire, prod, or guilt other international powers to intervene as a massive power tries to overrun their small country. But I also believe he is the public face of many other Ukrainians who are doing the same thing in their own smaller and less famous ways.
Apparently Ukraine has established a policy at the borders that no male citizens between the ages of 18 and 60 can leave the country. So the borders are filled with men who have escourted the women and children in their families to flee into Poland, then returned to defend their country. Many say they have no weapons or no idea how they can stand up to Russian troops. Still, they are following the mandate to do whatever they can. Reports are also that there are many Ukrainian men who were living in neighboring countries who are rushing over the border to come back to their native lands to help protect them. We do not know their names, nor see their faces, but we can know them as heroes for their country.
I’ll end with this beautiful sand story by Ukrainian artist Kseniya Simonova (http://simonova.tv). She came to the world’s attention when she won the competition on the TV show “Ukraine’s Got Talent.” I always find these sand stories to demonstrate unbelievable talent while telling heart-touching stories. I’ll quote her about the meaning of her latest creation, released online only days before the Russian invasion. Despite the text being written in Ukrainian? (I presume, but definitely not in a language I can read), the video speaks directly to my heart, as I hope it will to yours.
This sand story is about men, it’s called «Heroes» and tells a simple thing: heroes not only fight or are on war… heroes are among us, in everyday life. They heal, build, save, repair, cook, draw, create…. and not only. Real heroes are those who can help. For example, a husband who helps his wife at home, in the kitchen. Or plays with kids. The one who shares love. The one with alive heart and soul.
Music for this video was written by my eldest son Dima. I’m happy with our collaboration and I hope you will like it too!