Share the Pain 

            It’s hard to know what to do about the war in Ukraine. We are far away here in the US, yet somehow we realize that our future is deeply connected to the outcome, even if it’s hard to put into words exactly how. 

            Unfortunately, the most likely immediate outcome is the fall of Ukraine and the assassination of its inspiring president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy. This will not mean a victory for Russia. Russia is being severely decimated by the war and the international response, and the reputation of its military is down the tubes. Because of its nuclear capability, this actually makes it more dangerous. It has fewer other options for leverage. The world is even scarier now than it was when I was a child crouched under my elementary school desk during regular “bomb drills” in the 1950’s. 

            So what can we do? 

            We can give money to charities that are helping. There are many. We can support people we know who are more directly connected. I have an acquaintance who is from Ukraine and who works with others from Russia and Georgia. I contacted him just to let him know I am concerned for him. (He is very concerned for his family there.) 

            We can realize that many Russian citizens and expatriates are horrified by what is happening and be supportive of them and not be threatening to their heritage. The Russian nation has given amazing gifts to the world community. That doesn’t end with this. 

            We can let our leaders know that we support their actions, however imperfect, in opposing the Russian invasion and supporting the Ukrainian resistance. Every action sends a message to the world that this isn’t okay. That’s enough for now. 

            I want to feel closer to the suffering though. 

           There are risks. World politics is an unending game of chicken with no surefire winning strategy, and peace alone is not enough. A graveyard is peaceful. Any peace must include a path towards reconciliation and world community, a path towards life for all sides. Until we can see that, peace is not the answer. 

            All I know to do is be willing to sacrifice what I may be asked to sacrifice in support. If I pay more, a lot more, for gas, if I pay more for a lot of things, if I give more to food banks to help others who can’t adjust as easily if I can, if I give up who knows what other things because of that, maybe I can feel more like I’m involved. Because I am. I may need to do more. I hope I can. 

           This fight is a test of the free world against the unfree world. Not that the US or any other country is perfectly free, but the principle and hope of a free world is ours to defend. If we don’t support democratic freedom, however imperfect, who will? If the autocrats and oligarchs are right, the free world is a lame fantasy that never had a chance of surviving their reality for long. If we are right, it’s a work in progress that will take decades if not centuries to mature, but it is the future of humanity. 

           It's that hope we are struggling to preserve. That is our dog in this fight. 

           I want to share as I can in what is happening in the Ukraine, if only because it is on its way to me anyway if we can’t stop it there. If I can feel it, maybe I can help. We’re going to have to take some risks and make some sacrifices. 

           How can we help Ukraine? 
           Find ways to share the pain 

Hugh Moffatt 
Watertown, Massachusetts 
March 13, 2022