by Fiona Joy Green, Jaqueline McLeod Rogers, Dallas Cant, and Jessica Hrymack
Ukrainian forces battled Russian invaders on three sides on Thursday, February 24, 2022 after Moscow mounted an assault by land, sea and air in the biggest attack on a European state since the Second World War. https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/ukraine-russia-attack-feb24-2022-1.6362512
I don’t know how to process what’s going on in the world today. How would I feel to have the leader of my country to tell me that given ‘weapons to anyone who wants to defend the country’”? https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/ukraine-russia-attack-feb24-2022-1.6362512
Civil wars abound on the planet, yet, this feels different. Is it because Russia is a large organized military force that has resources to keep a war going for a long time? Is it the nuclear arsenal that is available with the push of a button? This reminds me of the ‘cold war’ that I lived through in the 1980s and the real threat of a nuclear attack from Russia hitting Manitoba as it headed to the US. I feel my anxiety level rising, as the reports of bombings and causalities increase. I worry for the people living in the Ukraine, just as I have been worrying for people in Afghanistan since the US troops and allies pulled out in July 2021after offering 20 years of relative protection. Covid-19 variants still thrive, and the climate crisis continues. There are no easy fixes – each of these realties are brutal, violent and deadly in the destruction of lives, property, society.
This is not a good day, Thursday Feb 24 2022—cold and too much snow here in my spot of the world, but that’s the good news. The bad? Russia invades Ukraine, in full out war. Maybe by next week the news will have somehow softened and there will be some good resolve in a situation that seems to offer none. Or by next week we-those of us still on the outside not directly impacted by bombs and blood– will have learned the timeworn trick of selective listening, so that we stop taking in the details of what’s going wrong and who’s hurt.
The globe is always on fire somewhere. But the obvious worry—my worry—is that we are hitting a collective fuel shortage, running out of things to risk and ruin. My generation—boomers, elders—expected to pass on a viable world and way of life. Yet for all the recent chatter about equity so that global south and north share opportunities/ so that rich and poor move closer to parity/ so that white people no longer enjoy privilege, the real end-game problem may be that none of us humans live to enjoy the world. Lots of books prepare us for this. I think of how John Durham Peters ends his book about communications in everything, The Marvelous Clouds, by marveling that after we blow up earth, there will still be clouds, still be winds and grasses—just us, gone. He muses as a person of faith that this is still marvel enough. As we come closer to an ending like this, I find this cold consolation, not good enough.
What is going on??
A question I ask myself nearly every day. We are collectively living through a moment of many turmoil’s – police violence, state sanctioned warfare, and overwhelming state failures to meet the basic needs of houseless, disabled, institutionalized, and immunocomprised people in the still raging Covid-19 pandemic.
But today, right now, my heart is particularly heavy with news of the Russian invasion and attack of Ukraine. This is the home my ancestors are from. A place I’ve never been and only know through the tanginess of my grandmother’s borscht and holopchi. This is the home my ancestors left during Soviet occupation. But today I am safe, I am cold, I am anxious, and I am fed up. I am fed up with leaders who toy with human lives, who have no interest in the wellbeing of their community. I am fed up the evils of colonialism, of which in part saw and continue to see the mining of Indigenous lands, particularly in Canada, for uranium. I keep holding out for a drastic shift, where one day humans can live to fulfil and celebrate our many needs, not continue on with this push for capitalism, for wealth accumulation.
I am fed up, and I want a better world. I know I’m not alone in this desire. Which in a way, makes things harder to bare. What, exactly, is the tipping point?
Russia is the largest country in the world with the greatest population of Ukrainians outside of Ukraine itself. As you may have heard, Russia has recently initiated war against its neighbour, and behind this conflict is a man who seemingly has nothing to lose, perhaps something to prove, and unlimited access to an arsenal of nuclear weapons.
This is a terrifying scenario and yet, it is another episode in the series of crises that have taken place – and garnered adequate media attention – within the last few years.
I have spent time thinking about the gravity of this situation. I can’t even begin to wrap my head around a reality in which missiles fly overhead in plain daylight, nor can I imagine commuting to work as the sound of a siren – signalling enemy air-invasion – permeates the air. I cannot imagine learning how to use an assault rifle under the premise of defending myself, my family, and my country. I have tried to imagine what it would be like, yet I am an outsider who has a mediated glimpse of the situation unfolding overseas. And, in my own efforts to grasp a reality that is foreign to me, I have not yet considered the impact this war might have on those of us who reside in North America.
While I am a part-time pessimist and a full-time worry wart, I am trying to remain hopeful. Hopeful for resolve. Hopeful for peace. Hopeful as declarations of solidarity fill up my social media feeds. Hopeful as I read news coverage of Russian civilians taking to the streets across Russia to protest this war. I am hopeful.
My heart is with anyone and everyone who has friends or family living in Ukraine. My heart is especially with those who call Ukraine home, for they are currently living a reality that I cannot even begin to fathom. I see you. I stand with you.