heavy hearts for ukraine

It’s currently 3:18am and I am sitting in my bed with the heaviest of hearts. I understand all of the reasons that we [the United States/NATO] cannot currently interfere.

But I still just don’t understand. My heart can’t comprehend what my head knows to be true. There are some excellent resources I will link below if you are looking for some reputable reporters as well as some resources that can be used to help Ukraine.

There are a lot of reasons why we wouldn’t interfere to this point, strategically it would do a lot more harm than good and historically we take a back seat unless our hands are forced. To date the only direct ‘attack’ was on February 12th when they engaged a US submarine in Russian waters. They used what I feel to be a cop out- along the lines of they asked the submarine to leave the territory and they were unresponsive. What is unknown is if the submarine was actually in Russian waters. Read more about that here.

Now, I think it is important to note that you are allowed to understand but also not agree. I understand why we can’t but what I can’t understand is how we can sit idle by and allow this malicious attack. I keep hearing audio of Russian Soldiers asking Ukrainians to lay down arms. Unironically, if Russia lays down arms there will be no war. However, if Ukraine lays down arms, there will be no Ukraine.

This is not a new conflict. Tensions have been high since the 1994 Nuclear agreement. We have been aware of this conflict and the potential for escalation for over 25 years. In the end it’s about power and money and empathy always takes a back seat. Throughout our entire planetary history, it seems to me that money and power has always been first priority. You’d think after so much violence we would learn but it is ignorant, and it is toxically positive thinking. The truth is it will always be a race to the most power and the most money. If it is not your mother or your brother who are in immediate danger or suffering, humans tend to close their eyes and push it to the side.

This is not meant to shame anyone; we have to do what we have to do to protect our own mental health. I know so many people with an amazingly big capacity for love and empathy. And that expands to strangers. And it is what makes us human, if you didn’t care, that would be more concerning. It is okay to take space as you process the tragedy of others. This is also not meant to be pessimistic. There are so many beautiful moments of human interaction and love. And not all power is bad. If you have not seen the power of our fav Ukrainian grandma standing up to Russian soldiers-go watch.

I also have watched the effect this has on past and present soldiers. I ask you to think of them during this time as well. I have seen some inspired to go to war to help others. And I have seen some who feel the dark shadow of past war traumas that whisper in their ear.

“Will I be recalled?”

“How do you feel about the death and destruction?”

“Look at the soldiers who are coming home in boxes…remember when we had to bury our friends?”

I would like people to remember that this could be very triggering for some. Soldiers as well as anyone who may have family or friends near the Ukrainian and Russian war area. Please take a minute to think before you speak and please…

ASK CONSENT before approaching a soldier or someone who may have friends/family involved in the war for their thoughts/opinions.

If you come across someone who seems to lack nuance or simple empathy for the conflict, remember that empathy is learned. Not everyone is raised to develop the skills needed to approach conflict with empathy and as a result we see a lot of people who come off as heartless. There are many who only will see the logic and lack human decency. This doesn’t excuse any poor behavior, but I will remind you that expending your own energy getting angry will not teach them. Instead, remove them from your discussion and occupy your space with safety and love.

All of this being said, I am mad. Fuming. One of the worst parts of my human experience thus far has been watching history repeat itself. We are stuck in this vicious cycle of greed and violence; and it is exhausting. I will never be able to comprehend how world leaders can extend words of support as we simultaneously watch others die.

The worst part is the guilt. I know that I have to protect my mental health first. Frankly, I didn’t initially have the space to process this. I know I can’t be a good ally if I am not mentally sound. So, I avoided seeing any news at first. I put my phone down and didn’t pick it up for days. But eventually the guilt of avoidance ate me up, so I made the decision to dive into the news. My heart broke. It broke for everyone involved. I cried all of last night as I watched the influx of videos [thanks to TikTok modern day war feels so personal]. That heartbreak includes the innocents involved in all of this. My mind wandered to the Russian army. I wonder how many of them are stuck in a war they don’t want to fight. Many Ukrainians and Russians live in harmony with shared ethnicities and nationalities.

Often, I think we lack compassion for the Russian civilians as well. I have watched and heard the stories of civilians on the streets of Moscow and Saint Petersburg who are screaming the rhetoric of anti-war and peace. I have watched videos of them [protesters] dragged away by police kicking and screaming as they are stripped of their voice.

My point is that there is so much humanity out there, and it is so important to remember this.

After the guilt… came the feelings of helplessness. Again, this is not to get you down; It is just my honest thought process. I have donated what I can of my own money. Now all I can do is stay informed, have an open heart, and share resources for others who can help. I know that these are the things that are in my control. Still doesn’t make the feeling go away.

For those of you with big hearts, take space to take care of yourselves. Allow yourself to understand the ‘why’ and still feel the ‘why not’.

I am going to try to journal my thoughts on this periodically. For now, my heart is in Ukraine and goes out to anyone who also has a heavy heart.

Take care of yourselves, let’s get through this.

Resources


Vice World News– online and on TikTok if you would like a more personal look inside the war.

Now This- I specifically like the TikTok as they repost a lot of footage coming straight from Kyiv, Ukraine.

NPR– I also enjoy NPR as a news outlet.

Conflict Timeline– I think this is easily digested and can also steer you in the right direction for further independent research if you are looking to learn about the history of the conflict.

Donations


Voices of Children– provides support to children affected by war.

United Help Ukraine– distribution of food and medical supplies.

Vostok– SOS support conflict affected people and internally displaced people.

Revived Soldiers– medical aid to Ukrainian soldiers and provides support to their families.

Support Ukrainian Journalism– now it is more important than ever to protect this right.

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