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Posts from March 2022

Sadness and Horror Equal Dread

Photo by Tina Hartung on Unsplash
Fence proclaiming its stand. Photo by Tina Hartung on Unsplash

The war continues. Watching the news continues. Reading articles and tweets continues. Donating to organizations helping Ukrainian refugees continues. Crying in empathy continues. Being within the fog of dread for what is and what may be continues.

The horror of watching death occur, knowing that more people will die or be injured is an unremitting feeling of sadness and helplessness. But not hopelessness, when seeing bravery, communal and individual. But still, the deep sadness of knowing that death and destruction are so central to what is seen. Why is it always so?

Sitting comfortably at home is a blessing, but to know and not be able to stop it is a different aspect of the horror of war.  

How is this world possible? How is it possible for there to be flooding and drought at the same moment? How are some huddling from the cold while others are harmed by the heat? How is it that some people starve while others, with stocked pantries, have more groceries delivered to their homes? Why is there good and evil, empathy and indifference? It hurts to see that so many people cannot accept people with any difference from what they are. How can I be created in God’s image but not you? Who gives you the right to impose yourself on others? Are war and peace as natural as the seasons? Can we not overcome this aspect of nature as we have used our brains to develop the tools and medicines that improve our lives?

The obscenity of me sitting here watching the sunlight reach out from the dimness of dusk to create a bright day while people in Ukraine will never see the trees, they planted, grow. There should not be guilt in living, a life, a comfortable life.

During my graduate studies in conflict, I came to the understanding that wars and conflicts are based on a person’s desire for power and greed (which is surely a desire for another kind of power). Why do so many of us need to suffer for the grubbiness of people who never have enough, who never see what they have, who will never be satisfied beyond a moment before they desire more?

The war is in Ukraine. There are other wars. There is suffering, more suffering. Will the bully-beasts ever be defeated for long? Long enough to know/care that it is better to grab for less; to see that each life is deserving; to hear the cries of a child, a partner, a parent, and know that it is as important as your rattles of mememememe?  

To Watch in Sadness and Horror

Photo by Olga Subach on Unsplash
The Life of Ukraine's Colors: Photo by Olga Subach on Unsplash


My heart goes out to the Ukrainian people who are suffering from the war that Putin, and Russia, have hurled upon them. As I sit here writing, it’s shocking to realize that just a few weeks ago Ukrainian writers were also in libraries and cafes and at their kitchen tables writing down their thoughts and not struggling to survive the brutality of war—of a war machine—that does not value human life, that sees value in destruction. So much pain and its impact. It doesn’t matter how sophisticated our stuff may be, there is still so much baseness within.

The images of brute destruction of the places where lives have been lived; the voices speaking up and down the scales of pain; the faces expressing horror, exhaustion, desperation, pain, anger, love—fear. The shrieks of why, which may get a response, but, really, can never be answered in the way a heart can comprehend. Why is it so hard to live without trying to hurt someone else?

The other day I spoke to a friend who was a refugee when she was a child, more than 70 years ago. The pain of the loss of her father and the loss of her home and all that she knew have remained with her. She is heartbroken knowing the painful path before these new refugees. The images we see of children pressing their hands against the glass to touch their father's hands before their train takes them away, represents a pain that will never go away. This moment remains forever—its presence is always present.

There have been other images of children that have distilled in our minds, not of a specific war or conflict or tragedy, just the horrible impact of using deadly weaponry to resolve human interactions. Will words ever be enough?  

And while I sit here thinking these thoughts, I get an update from Ancestry that a cousin has added previously unknown relatives to our expanding family tree. My family tree that has branches that escaped death and pain and oppression that were rooted in what is today Ukraine and Lithuania and Belarus. From century to century, there have been horrors. The cycle needs to end.

When will the cries be more powerful than the bombs?

May this war end soon—with a peaceful, self-determined future for Ukraine (and Russia and the rest of us)—with leaders who know how to laugh and know that, sometimes, they are laughable.