Ukraine – Feelings of Inadequacy

How to Even Comprehend

I vowed this blog would not be a forum for political discourse. But I need to rant.

I have lived a charmed life, all things considered. I have never lived in a war zone. I have never gone hungry. I have always had a place to sleep and feel safe. I have never lived through a conflict, aside from the odd disagreement with my wife. I have never feared for my life, or that of my family.

I am feeling helpless. I am also in awe.

As Canadians, we have never faced this type of adversity. War is fought somewhere else. Always in some far away land. Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria. Always pictures on the newspaper or TV. Always someone else. Always somewhere else. We turn the news on and off at our leisure….tsk tsking as we lament what a shame it is to see people suffering through oppression of their freedoms. Bombing of schools and hospitals? “That’s horrible!” People fleeing for their lives, with nothing but the clothes on their back, looking for safe haven in another country , while risking their lives over unrelenting terrain, or over rough seas? “That must be terrible….how sad!” Chemical weapons? “how can they do that to other human beings?”

I have never watched my kids leave for a far away land, wondering if I would ever see them again. Wondering if they would lose a limb, be shot, or be blown to pieces.

Turn the TV off. Don’t listen to the news – and it goes away. The people are just images. No one we know. No relatives of ours. It’s a temporary blow to our self worth. Our ability to show compassion and understanding briefly challenged.


This conflict has touched me in ways others haven’t. I can’t explain why precisely. Innocent people. Children. Grandparents. Parents. I watch as fathers, brothers, grandfathers, uncles, send their wives and children to safety in another land, as they resolve to fight for their country – for their freedom. Even as they know they may never see their loved ones again. A last hug, a last kiss – through tears and unspoken words.

People that just a few weeks ago, shared similar hopes and dreams as you and I. Looking forward to the future. Kids, grandchildren, school, concerts, sporting events, saving for a new car, a new house. Now refugees sleeping in train stations. Community halls. Arenas. Floors. In tents. All their life savings a distant memory. Desperate to keep their children safe from harm, both physically and emotionally.

I have often said “fear is a great motivator”. But never in the context of living or dying, freedom or oppression. The men and women of the Ukraine are courageous beyond words. Could I do the same? They are fighting for their lives. Their freedom. Their democracy. And perhaps ours.

Some autocratic bastard wakes up one day and decides he wants your country, your natural resources. Thinks if he targets civilians – your kids, your family he will break you. He is a coward and a parasite. He bombs hospitals, schools, residential neighbourhoods – breaking you down. Expecting you to submit and surrender.

I sleep in a warm bed, in a temperature controlled environment. I moan and groan about the price of gas, the price of groceries. I lay my head on a pillow and have coffee in bed. I call my kids and ask about their day and their family. I am an expectant grandfather. I look forward to the end of winter so I can go to a cottage and enjoy the tranquility of the lake. I look forward to my kids future, as it plays out before them in a democracy where we have choices.

What if tomorrow that were all to change? What if our closest neighbour elected an autocrat? What if he decided to invade OUR country – take OUR natural resources? Indiscriminately kill our loved ones. Would we fight with the courage of the Ukrainians? Would we send our wives and children somewhere safe and take up arms against our adversary?

Would I sacrifice my life for my country – for our freedom? Would you?

“Out of the ashes rises the phoenix.” I pray that will be the story told in the end.

Contribute in any way you can. But for the grace of God, there go I.

I feel inadequate. I am in awe.


9 responses to “Ukraine – Feelings of Inadequacy”

  1. Think you have expressed my feelings as well. I truly believe that we babyboomers experienced the best of times. The world was our oyster. And, we had hot pants and mini skirts during our high school years….

  2. Doc, your words ring so true.
    I think often of the quote: The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
    History shows us striking examples from its past, and from my studies being a rather amateurish follower of military history – this seems to have many parallels to the Russo-Finnish conflict of 1939.
    In the end, as Marshall Timoshenko was to have said “we gained just enough ground to bury our dead”. But sadly, there few winners in such clashes, but if the cause is just (freedom) then perhaps it is worth the price…

    • The Ukrainians are certainly not doing nothing. I am amazed with their courage and resolve. I question my own in times like these.

      As always, you have the right words to put things in context.


  3. Well put, Kent. I wrestle with the same emotions and self-assessment. I’ve concluded that thinking, talking, singing or writing about it, as disturbing the subject matter may be, is far better than looking away.

    To me this is well beyond political. Political is ranting about Trump being a wanker (could you even imagine if he were in office now?) … sorry.

    This is more a matter of contemplating humanity itself and the sickening crimes against it. The ruthless betrayal of a ‘never again’ pledge. I’m astounded and humbled by the conviction and courage of Ukrainians – both military and civilian.

    My contribution of support may be modest, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to ‘look away’ and carry on as usual in the relative comfort of a distant bubble.

    Thanks for sharing your sage thoughts on this.

    • Thanks for the kind words my friend. My words pale in comparison to your mastery of the language. But that’s part of what makes us all different.

      Reading your words and listening to your music have moved me more than you know. It is humbling to watch the Ukrainians stand up to tyranny. But, the fight is our fight as well. We cannot look away and pretend we are safe. It scares the hell out of me to watch what is going on to the south of us, knowing that we are not in a position to fight back. Would we? Or would we just roll over in the typical Canadian way and say “sorry for getting in your way”.

      Keep writing and singing pal. You are an inspiration.


  4. First of all I would like to say awesome blog!
    I had a quick question which I’d like to ask if you do not mind.
    I was interested to find out how you center yourself
    and clear your head prior to writing. I’ve had a difficult time clearing my thoughts in getting my ideas
    out. I do take pleasure in writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are generally wasted simply just trying to figure out how to begin.
    Any recommendations or hints? Thanks!

    • Hi Mattie,

      Thank you so much for those kind words. I appreciate you reading and of course the feedback.

      The genesis of this blog was essentially to leave memories of my life for my kids. I want them to be able to look under the covers and see how I became me. I had no illusions that anyone beyond friends and family would be interested in my “musings”, but have been flattered by the response.

      Over the years, I have had melancholy moments which caused me to reflect on my life. Periodically I would jot them down and share them with a few people or shared on Facebook, in the event someone may be experiencing the same sense of the moment. I find we often bury our innermost thoughts and in the world we currently live in, we need to be more present.

      I wish I had a good answer to your very appropriate question. I don’t really feel I centre myself, as much as try to tap into a memory, or something I think important to share – or perhaps to unburden my brain. The idea becomes a framework or a draft as I let it percolate in my head. Then over the course of several days, I write, edit, write again, edit again etc. Sometimes I edit more than 40 times – a word, a sentence structure, a paragraph etc.

      I find if I write a list of topics/titles, it gives me something to reflect on and best topics seems to float to the top.

      I think you need to find what works for you. Find something you are passionate about and just start writing. Your brain does the rest, as you get on a roll. At least that works for me.

      I have no formal training in this, but have had people tell me over the years that I have a “way with words”. I am not sure about that, but it has given me a reason to write as I drift into retirement. Frankly I am better with the written word than the spoken word.

      Sorry I am not more help, but would be happy to share thoughts if you want to discuss further another time.

      Happy writing – trust your instincts.


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