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.
BUT THESE ARE REAL PEOPLE!
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.