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To even start this post makes me anxious, and yet, it is our current shared reality. I want to be respectful of the profound adversity experienced by the Ukrainian people, and to sit here, in comfort in Johnstown, Ohio leaves me feeling unequal to the challenge. Yet, I want to speak out, join the voices of support for the Ukrainian people and place myself clearly in opposition to those inflicting this adversity, capriciously and needlessly.

Like many across the planet, each day, repeatedly, I turn a watchful eye to the news about the invasion of Ukraine by Vladimir Putin. Like many, I had felt a deep awareness of the disruptions and deconstructions of the past two years, lurking as potential long before that. I did not know what would emerge. For me, the invasion of Ukraine was not surprising; the responses from around the planet were. These had not, I believe, been fully imagined or anticipated by anyone. There had seemed to be either an attack on, or sheer neglect of, the high price of democracy and freedom in many places on the planet. Many passionate and noisy people were clear that they preferred an autocrat. Then suddenly, a tremor of resistance and refusal, made manifest at great cost in Ukraine, found voice and took action.

War is not a problem-solving device, and we are once more validating this as a species. There is suffering, destruction, and terror that is both unnecessary and cruel. There is a quiet throb of sadness and frustration that now shapes my days. For the first time in my life, however, I also feel connected to a web of compassion that spans the planet; I am not alone in my opposition to this war. While many may ignore it, some even support it, what stands out for me is this global web I find, made visible and active. This war isn’t just happening over there somewhere to someone; it is everyone’s war…and for many of us, no war is welcome and every war harms everyone. There is an “us” embedded in the word “Ukraine”.

I have pondered that the fear and fantasies about “nuclear options” may be a factor in our web of compassion. Perhaps for some. The more dominant theme, however, is simple revulsion at injustice and ruthlessness. There have always been anti-war protestors. This seems different, as nations step forward, take action, imagine innovative ways of helping. News changes by the minute, and I do not know what developments will emerge, how much more chaos and destruction will be imposed. It seems clear to me, however, that we can never go back to where we were and we cannot erase this global event and its repercussions.

Most humans in this web of compassion are seeking ways to contribute, to help. UNICEF, one of my favorite problem-solving resources, is meeting at the border mothers and children who are suddenly Ukrainian refugees. So that is where I sent my first donation. I post this information as the appropriately fuzzy photo for today to invite you to join this effort, or whatever other effort you can find that fits your values and beliefs. The “us” embedded in the Ukrainian experience warrants whatever action we might find our way to bring forward.

“Courage is the measure of our heartfelt participation with life, with another, with a community, a work; a future. To be courageous is not necessarily to go anywhere or do anything except to make conscious those things we already feel deeply and then to live through the unending vulnerabilities of those consequences.”

~David Whyte


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