Putin has declared that there is no such thing as Ukraine or Ukrainians. He denies their existence, their culture, their very lives. We are seeing it happen today in real time. This war has been planned deliberately, executed since 2014, and there is no sign of stopping.
President Putin has made clear what his aim is: To end Ukraine as we know it. He denies that Ukrainian people even exist. He has been waging war against the country and its people since 2014. He is following Soviet tradition, ranging from the violent inclusion of Ukraine into the Soviet union, the deliberate mass starvation of the Ukrainian people during what is called the Holodomor, and the many attempts to minimize Ukrainian sovereignty after the fall of the Soviet regime of terror.
When Putin called the end of the Soviet Union the biggest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century, he openly defended its crimes, its terror, its violence and its imperialism. His vision of the world was further laid out when he criticized Lenin for maintaining even the limited national identities of the people caught in the Soviet prison house of nations.
Putin is deliberately bombing cities. He is sending his army against innocent civilians. He is menacing Europe and the world. He is sacrificing his own people in the slaughter of another.
Make no mistake: This is about all of us. Putin has worked to destabilize democracy for years, spreading fake news, misinformation, discontent in democracy and the rule of law, enabling extremist nationalists, reactionaries and fascists all over the world. Because of our desire to maintain good relations with Russia, we have tolerated his behavior. This needs to stop now.
Putin’s history is a history of genocide: Chechnya, Syria, and now Ukraine. We have seen this pattern before. He is now planning to do to the cities of Ukraine what Nazi Germany did to his hometown of Leningrad.
If we do not act now to do everything we can to stop this, it must happen now. A lot has been prepared already. But we cannot let this slaughter continue. We are not living in an imaginary future in which “unthinkable” things cannot happen anymore. We have lived through several of these moments already. We stood by during Srebrenica and Rwanda.
But how are we supposed to act? What are we supposed to do?
We cannot risk nuclear war. Will there come a time when such a thought becomes necessary? How could anyone even consider such a thought? If there is a crime being committed, how can we not intercede?
We all are probably feeling what it means to be completely helpless right now. For too long have many of us become used to life as something personal, individual, intimate. My life, my choices, my destiny. There is peace and freedom in this. But we are reminded now that this does not come easily, and that we may have been living a dream.
This is real. I have no idea about what to do. All I can do is write and teach. I hope people are paying attention. The least we can do, is be a witness. And to learn and keep teaching, keep saying “no more” till, maybe, some day, this will indeed happen no more.
I am hoping, maybe against hope, that the worst will not come to pass. A line of tanks and military vehicles, 2-3 of them next to each other, 40 miles / 60 kilometers, approaching Kiev. I don’t even know how to pray about this. But it is not about me. It is about what is happening in Ukraine, and what hopefully will not happen.
No matter the outcome, the intent, the design is clear: and so is the perpetrator.
Maybe Psalm 23 helps:
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want;
he makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil;
for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff,
they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
thou anointest my head with oil,
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
Otherwise, there is only silence now. And night will fall.