If you’re like me, you:
- Feel an obligation, a compulsion, to consume news about Ukraine,
- Are paralyzed with horror by the words and images you see,
- Can’t help but wonder how this is all going to ultimately impact YOU and those you love,
- Have contemplated the possibility of all-out thermonuclear war, and
- Have sent a little money to one or two or three organizations that are purportedly helping the Ukrainians, without much hope that it makes even a smidgeon of difference to that situation so many thousands of miles away, and with a sneaking suspicion that that money might be put to better use locally to ease local suffering. But what can you do? You can’t give everything, can you? You can’t give everywhere.
Right now the eyes of the world are focused on Ukraine. Countless pundits have been analyzing Putin’s motives and psychology. Most seem to be saying that he has somehow “miscalculated” or even that he’s losing his mind. And everyone is exalting and extolling the courage and resilience of the Ukrainian people in the face of overwhelming odds. The invasion has not proceeded quite as quickly as may have been anticipated.
Yet no one really doubts that Putin will win, at least in the short term. Russia will destroy Ukraine. They may not gain much, ultimately, but they’ll beat down the Ukrainian resistance because they are so much mightier.
And the Western world dare not intervene militarily for fear of nuclear bombs.
You could say Putin has a winning hand.
You could say this is simply one terrifying lesson in raw power.
Power trumps love.
Power trumps courage.
Power trumps integrity.
Power does whatever it wants to, because it can.
What’s God Got to Do with It?
A friend of mine recently wrote that she is looking for a form of the Divine that she can relate to, but is having trouble finding one that doesn’t come loaded with cultural and historical baggage that feels alien or off-putting in some way.
I understand. Also, most images of God that I can summon are pretty fearsome.
Life is always consuming life, from the micro to the macro realms. Many animals live cooperatively but that doesn’t mean they live in peace any more than we do. Not even microbes live in peace. All life has to struggle to survive. We have an illusion at times of being insulated from this elemental struggle. But within that false security exists great stress.
I think maybe the best we can do is to try and maintain some unvarnished, not-yet-disillusioned sense of security in our children for as long as that can last. And maybe that gives them a foundation of sorts.
Love exists; we know that, but does it require certain conditions to obtain before it can even arise (like bread dough)? Does it have more than a utilitarian evolutionary function in our universe? Is love – somehow, somewhere – as powerful as power?
Here Is What I Think About God
I’m agnostic, which means I don’t know if there’s a God and I don’t think it’s possible (for a human) to know. (I think that’s what agnostic means. That’s my view in any case.)
Furthermore, if there is a God, or a Divine Will or what-have-you, then She, He, or It has made me agnostic, and must want me this way, because look at life! Look at the circumstances we’re born into. On the one hand, we have these amazingly complicated cognizing brains that can apprehend and contemplate so much, and at the same time we’re confronted with the conundrum of human cruelty as well as Nature’s apparently dispassionate ruthlessness.
And … actually … here is something I do believe with a rock-solid faith:
There is no force in the universe that is going to come and make things easy for us. I mean, for one thing, we’re all going to die and we don’t even know what that is. Right? That’s not easy.
So if there is a Savior, if there exist any answers to the dilemma inherent in being human, then we are surely thrown upon our own resources to find those answers within. (Even if there is an outward corollary, an external God too somewhere, life requires us to look inside first.)
Trusting the God within Others
Recently, a friend forwarded me an email from a good friend of hers who’d been a Peace Corps volunteer in Ukraine. This friend of my friend was requesting donations so that she could wire money directly to a schoolteacher in the Ukrainian town where she had lived, where supplies were being gathered to “support the local boys and men heading to Kyiv to fight.”
My first (misguided) response was:
I do want to send some $$ for what it’s worth to help the Ukrainians. I have a question about this avenue though.
“It sounds like this little fund is going to help this group of young boys and men defend Kyiv, but I don’t think Kyiv is defensible. I think Russia is simply going to level the city. I think the struggle of these ‘local boys and men heading to Kyiv to fight’ is breathtakingly courageous and honorable … but at this point I’m thinking it might make far more sense to simply help support the refugees in some fashion, and send money their way, for humanitarian purposes. “
A day or two later, I realized: Who am I to question the inner source (or instincts) of these brave Ukrainian boys and men? Sitting thousands of miles away in a warm room, who am I to judge that their home is indefensible?
So, given that this person was the most direct link to the Ukraine I’d seen (no website or administrative costs), I sent my available money her way — and a little to another organization, Razom for Ukraine, that she recommended in her very courteous response to me as another safe and worthy avenue for donations.
So there you have it. I’m ending on an abrupt note here but suddenly I have nothing more to say!
Life is like that sometimes.
I’m glad I sent money. It’s not much but it feels right.