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When Thoughts Are All You Have

I don’t often comment on current events, but I believe in the power of words, so here we go. It’s not pretty or poetic, but I have to believe that saying something is better than saying nothing.

The world feels very small right now.

In years past, when armed conflict have affected other countries, I don’t remember it feeling this close, or this personal. But this conflict with Russia and Ukraine has me rearing back in surprise. It seems crazy that Russia expects to be able to invade Ukraine without throwing the entire world into chaos (which concerns me on a great many levels, because I have to wonder what the real objective is, but I digress). We use our phones and computers to communicate with the whole world. Ukrainians aren’t some mythical creatures that we can’t understand or relate to. We know these people. We see them and hear them. Global relations don’t consist only of one government’s officials speaking to another government’s officials. Global relations are about all of us. We all have the chance to reach out, to learn and understand people on the other side of the world. Ukrainians don’t just rely on the propaganda of their government to form an opinion on the Russians. And that goes both ways. Russian citizens are crying out, begging their government to stop. They are lamenting with the Ukrainians. It isn’t just one country verses another country. We are individuals. We know each other as individuals. And we’re standing up. Companies, of their own accord, are standing up, cutting off Russia from their services. Governments aren’t the only ones in the game.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but it’s difficult for me to know what to do in this situation. I don’t have any power, authority or influence on what happens between two super-powers, do I?

Most of us don’t have the means or connections to DO something. Our reach and influence is very limited. Often, the only thing we can do is take to social media and do those small, seemingly trivial things like showing the Ukrainian colors, or giving our condolences, or just saying, “This is wrong.” Thoughts and prayers are often mocked as useless. But are they? In a world that grows smaller and smaller with all the communication tools we have, is expressing support really useless? I don’t think it is. Thoughts have power. Words have power. Half the battle of dealing with our own trauma is the need to be seen, heard and validated. We can’t stop the Russian government, but we can at least let those who are suffering know that they are seen, that we mourn with them, and that despite the utter ineptitude that most of us feel, we will use what limited influence we have to hold them up.

Meanwhile, we all have lives that move forward. I believe that living in fear is detrimental, so though it feels strange, we all should strive to keep smiling, keep finding the good, keep moving forward in our lives. A friend of mine showed me a photograph the other day. They have friends in Ukraine who fled to the countryside and were hiding out in a cellar. The photo was of those people, huddled with others in the hard, cold cellar—smiling. They were smiling. Because their life moves forward, and despite the fact that they had to literally flee to safety, they are making the best of it, helping their children to view it as an adventure.

Because that’s what we do. We take in the bad, acknowledge it, and then breathe out hope.

So while I must move forward and handle the every day tasks of living my life, I will hold those strangers in my thoughts. I will mourn with them, and stand up for them in my very small way.

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  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this horrific situation. I feel your helplessness. I have family members in Ukraine, one who is a nine-year-old, whom we have no news of in 5 days. We pray every day that they are safe and hunkering down somewhere until they can get out.

    • I’m so sorry to hear that! My heart breaks for you. I hope that you are able to hear word soon about your family and that they found somewhere safe to stay.

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