I have been sleepless for the last few days. As much as I manage to discuss what is happening and to analyse how or why we got to this point, there is a part of me that refuses to accept this new reality. A reality shaking me to my core and making me shiver whenever I think about what is happening at just 2,024 kilometers from where I live. A reality which I was taught would only exist in history books and could never be replicated again in today’s world, considering how much we have learned from the past. When the news broke out, I can let you imagine what my reaction and thoughts were. We always thought that situations like this one were all bark yet no bite; we assumed it all to be some form of negotiation technique in order to intimidate the other side and encourage them to give in to one’s demands. How blind were we to not see the warning signs that a war was about to break out in Europe once again?
My aim is not to provide a geopolitical analysis of the situation in order to explain why a political leader decided to invade a country, for that would entail taking sides and just providing a single to the story. When such things take place, we are often unable to grasp all the necessary information that would allow us to look at all the facts and fully understand what is going on. All I care about is that a war is happening in Ukraine; a war where lives are taken and families are torn apart. A war where curfews are set in order to limit movement and not tip the other side of one’s position, where the phone’s alarm is substituted with bomb shells and heavy artillery. A war where people are forced to leave their houses and flee to another country, along with the likely thought that they might not have a place to call “Home” anymore.
I have not experienced war in my country within this lifetime, however this has not stopped me from seeing the aftermath of such actions and decisions in a country where everyone could talk and treat each other as brothers and sisters. Until this day, there are no official documents narrating what happened in my country over the span of fifteen years, making it almost impossible to understand the big picture. Such an important void cannot stand as it stops the possibility of learning from the past and avoids making the same mistakes. Then again, with everything that has been going on over the last two weeks, have we really learned anything from the twentieth century?
Following the news does help in understanding what is going on in the East, at least to some extent. After hearing, seeing and reading all the horrors taking place on the other side of Europe, I decided to change my scope towards something more important. I did not want to read the news anymore, for it did not show the horror of war as it should be portrayed. Over the last few days, several pictures and videos have trended on the Internet, showing fathers breaking down in tears as they see their daughters and wives getting on a bus heading towards the border. Other posts portrayed couples who got married instants before changing their clothes and picking up rifles and getting ready for battle.
The country in question finds itself in the middle of an international conflict where it does not get to call the shots or even voice its opinion at times, yet it is dealt all the blows and injustices as the result of other leaders who are unable to sort things out like civilised human beings. That country where pictures and videos of husbands and fathers bidding their families farewell, for the former is staying behind in order to fight while the latter flees to safety. That country where even the so-called “invaders” oppose this war, which is being replicated through the protests happening back home.
Nobody wanted this war, apart from the oligarchy of two superpowered nations who send their respective youth and future to die for a cause that does not make sense to begin with.
They do not deserve to be called leaders in any possible meaning of the term. In all of this, only one man deserves my respect as well as the right to be remembered in the history books for years to come. Two years ago, that man was an actor and a comedian. Today, he is leading his country through the most frightening and chaotic time of its existence. A man who was offered a way out of this conflict while leaving his countrymen behind and yet opted to stay by saying: “I need ammunition, not a ride!“. He represents the type of leaders who lead the way by being the first on the frontline, wearing full military gear and encouraging his surroundings to not give up and keep fighting. If you still do not know by now who the man I am talking about is, I ask you to just remember his name: Volodymyr Zelenskyy. I know nothing of his political agenda or whether I would agree with his ideas; all I know is that when his country needed him the most, he stayed and fought side by side with those who have put their trust in him.
I do not know how this war is going to end. I do not know if that country will still be there for my children to know about it as much as I can hope they will even be able to visit it one day. I do know where this leaves the rest of the world, nor where we are supposed to go from here. I only care about one thing: I want this war to end. I am tired of hearing people trying to analyse what is going through the political and international relations lenses when people my age are out there fighting for their lives, for their families, for the country they were born in and raised. I am tired of seeing people going to war because they are following orders blindly.
All educated people have always been taught to prioritise dialogue and exchange to physical actions and wars when it comes to solving differences and disagreements. Unfortunately, it seems that violence and sending other people to die are the only things politicians of the world tend to live by. In any scenario related to employment, we would consider those people to be too old to work, yet we find it logical to elect them to positions of power and deal with national matters. Am I the only one to see a problem with that approach?
I continue to find myself at a loss for words and for sleep.
I just keep on hoping that this war will end soon and that serious actions are taken in order to prevent such horrors from happening.
Not just in the country in question, but all over the world as well.
To the country holding on for dear life, I can only say: Slava!
“The military do not start wars. Politicians start wars.”
– William Westmoreland