Most of us in America are here because of suffering that we or our ancestors endured or could no longer endure. Oppressed. Enslaved. Tortured. Starved. And those who were already here, they, too, endured those crimes. Perhaps some came to escape perpetrating crimes, while others came to perpetrate them. Some of us have learned that we must help those who suffer, while others have learned that it pays to oppress. An ugly, horrid web.
Seeing the carnage on the streets of Ukraine shows so bluntly that wars may be motivated by the grotesque ego of those sitting on their hollow thrones, but the men who carry out their plans of conquest are not innocent. They shoot people who are trying to survive and rape women who, perhaps, represent victory to those who are tiny in their hearts and minds. Perhaps they are motivated by hurt and imagined indignities, not beauty or compassion. This is a hard world.
We learned about “rape and pillage” from centuries of war, and thought (hoped?), naively, that there could be a time—that this was that time—that is post-war. But that was just us not paying attention to over there and there and there and there. Has that time ever existed? It seems to be a base/basic method of human expression; surely, our worst method. Can we ever have peace if we are basically the same people we have been for thousands of years?
Communication. Miscommunication. Misleading communication. Words lead to debasing actions. To death. To destruction. To denying another’s right to live unfettered in body, heart, and mind.
I watched a video of a displaced child talking softly of the green gardens of her hometown that are now gray rubble. What has been won? What has been lost? There is no balance.
The ache continues here, in its way, as I also read the news of America. The brutality of pushing against one’s neighbor, of imposing one’s venomous vision on others, makes it so clear that the push to oppress is not just done in air raids, but in a blindness of ethics, for how can it be ethical not to recognize the rights and dignity of those who aren’t you?
We see the cruelty that seems always to be lurking, ready to exert itself. We know fear—the feeling of anticipating that the worst could, yet, happen. But we have also been inspired by wisdom and the actions of those who have come before—those who always seem to rise—those who have not succumbed to holding power—over. They must be supported.
Those images of bodies—hands tied behind backs, lying on the streets of their city, fallen guardians—reach in so deep, to the fibers within that twitch with ancestral memory—human memory. This cannot be. Yet, it is. It should not be. Yet, it is. I refuse to accept that, concede to this dark reality. We must each, in our way, stand up and push back and protect. Move forward, undeterred by what is, focused on what should be.
May the war end soon and with it may the violence, the destruction, and the killing end.
May those who have been harmed find healing and safety and trust and peace.
May those who have harmed others acknowledge in anguish, remorse, regret, and grief what they have done and who they are, and may they be guided evermore to redress what they have done, as much as can be.