To Watch in Sadness and Horror
March 14, 2022
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.