As Legions Before Us. We Will Be Tested

Child victim of War

Foreword: Two previous attempts at this post binned; five days of rehearsing paragraphs in my head before they made it to the page, and I still don’t know if  it is even close to the original intention. The drive would not let me rest though. Bear with me. Encapsulating these aspects of The Human Condition were never destined to be easy.

Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, then Libya, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, Northern Mozambique, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Niger (to name but seven of the approximately twenty plus conflicts in Africa), Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia, (blink and you might miss those two) and now a war in Ukraine which is coming into its eighth year when shorn of the curtain of a fight for independence by minorities was elevated to one which cannot be avoided. These are the sometime headline ones; not the ones packaged into small items on the brutally repressive regimes and the bloody conflicts between communities or criminal gangs.

Ukraine. If we are starkly honest with ourselves, and this is a time to be so, this one takes hold of us by the heart and mind, because those folk and their towns look so very similar to our own. And in the next sentences I walk a literary minefield. Do we notice more because of the colour of their skins. Yes? For the simple reason that familiarity brings a greater degree of emotion. Deep inside lurks the feeling with a myriad of deeper causes ‘That could be me. Us,’  You can’t stop it. No more than someone native to any of the nations above would bitterly think ‘Welcome to our world. You, of The First World,’ Human nature: You might be blessed enough to have the gift of Thinking Before Speaking; dare anyone here claim they have the gift of Perception Before Feeling? You will have to accept, I don’t believe you. No person has that sort of Objectivity. The Invasion of Ukraine, an industrial powered, visceral, savage, unavoidable, twenty-four seven media reminder what has been going on non-stop somewhere, sometime, somehow. For some folk who follow the world news, maybe the last straw. If anyone out there and has been weeping, threshing, howling, shutting down their TV or laptop save for rom-coms, sports feeds, domestic themed shows, or wildlife documentaries….I for one don’t blame you. Just come back to us some time.

And of course there are those issues on your doorstep. Pandemic, voter suppression, job security, rising prices, civil rights, domestic and civic violence, environmental concerns; those for examples. We agonise and rage over what is happening in Ukraine, but we worry about doorstep issues. We even might taste fear over one or more of them, dread them starting to link up, like a series of small forest fires merging into one vast wall of speeding immolation.

A short while back, I wrote about the importance of Hope. A plea to not to give way to despair. In all honesty an easier work to write. This is about the application of Hope. … Firstly we can all Hope, and we can all believe we will sustain the intention in a good way. Until our own Reality comes in; the inescapable truth of a War in The First World. Not just in the fierce imposition of the media, or the stream of consciousness interchanges between others. It comes creeping up on us. Sometimes swirling about us when we planned on going to sleep, or maybe dragging us out of a restless half-place, or maybe hovering there while we go about our daily chores, worse intruding upon our leisure time asking ‘Should you be….’  

You will be tested. I cannot predict how, where or when. I can tell you those myriad of emotions you are feeling are part of rehearsal. Steady yourself for a journey into a Batman’s Gotham City grotesque warping of Doctor Suess’ ‘Oh The Places You’ll Go’. You could already be finding you are wishing one man dead, perhaps joyfully celebrating resistance and shrugging at the sight of dead Russian soldiers, bitterly seeing those in your country who are ‘soft’ on Russia as not just wrong or nuisances but traitors and possibly paid by Moscow. Be prepared to be feeling emotions beyond anger, to find callousness has become part of your prism. You will be drawn in. Conflict and War are most adept at justifying; the shock being you will believe, In This Case, it was right to embrace them. If you ever thought you were angry over something outside of your own personal life, now you are stepping up (or down-depends on your viewpoint) a piece. Beware how you tread; an emotional solution the Ukraine could became your template for problems at home. You might well feel fatigue at some stage, taking comfort when the news slips down the ratings…’Can’t be so bad anymore?’ Really?

Those words disturb you? Do you feel I have stepped too far into incitement, a tabloid rabble-rouser, safe in his age and home? Are you, instead nodding your head and invoking battle criesIf You Want Peace Prepare For War’, ‘Democracies Don’t Start Wars. We Finish Them,’ ‘Justifiable War. It’s In The Bible’ (it’s not actually -Augustine of Hippo might have been the first to write on the subject). Or are you shaking your head and thinking What is he on about? I don’t understand where he is going with this?’. Perhaps you are there gnawing on your lips and saying ‘Well. Yes. But there has to be a better way. There must be. Surely we can’t keep on killing. Can we?’. There we are then. You, me, others; drawn into in a confused internal conflict where principals, ethics we are told about and the ever raw emotions collide, maybe merging in pairs or a trio only to fly apart like some of the more exquisite subatomic particles, or remain in constant antagonism. Whichever; they will plague us with a constant restlessness, even if that be only a far off rumbling of someone else’s storm.

You might cryTested? I did not sign up for this!’ Well sorry soldier, The Human World’s dynamics has the monopoly on this particular conscription, switch on some communication,  step, outside the door. Yep. You’re drafted. Even trying to be detached is some kind of statement. Your only other option is Hermitage while trying to avoid the Media finding out about you and placing you in today’s circus side-show.   

Regrettably there are no test-papers, no Yes/No/Maybe forms to fill in or on-line courses for you to tackle to see if you have passed as an In-Tune Human. (We don’t count social media for this circumstance, there are too many opportunities for pollution by those who wouldn’t even qualify for consideration to try the test; they come from Right, Left and up underneath). Thus you justifiably ask ‘You are telling me an awful lot of grim stuff. Is that all you are dealing in this time. Some Old Testament prophet re-enactments?’ 

Well, maybe. Or look at it this way. This is a journey. The weather is unsettled, make sure you carry an umbrella, a hat, and a shower proof jacket in a back-pack. Ones woven with judgement, perception and reflection. Unsettled weather. Best carry a bottle of cool reason ease the parched feeling brought on by the sudden heatwave of anger. Take opportunities to find yourself some shelter to get out of the extremes; wait for the breaks, indulge yourself in the respite. If you can grasp a short span of calm and understanding, a wish to be charitable or helpful in some positive and constructive way, thus you are coping, you are not destroying. ‘So far so good’; ‘I could have done worse’ ;’I’ll know better next time’  Maybe not the most positive of statements or evaluations, but, in testing times perpetual excellence leads to burn out, or worse Arrogance – the doorway to…..too many bad choices.

To conclude The Testing will not end in the foreseeable future. Your continued, dogged, sanguine efforts to help the victims and stand against oppression mixed with the realisation we are all fated to stumble at times, not living up to expectations; these will be part of the way upwards and outwards. Surviving and then washing away this latest deluge of the dross of Ignorance and Aggression.

Take care of yourselves folks. You are a precious resource.

Treatment Of Domestic Workers In Malaysia

Suffering comes in many forms. As individuals we cannot be everywhere, but we can at least be aware.

The Human Lens

The issue of maltreatment of foreign workers in Malaysia has time and again made it to international headlines. In the absence of proper laws governing the working conditions of domestic workers, from abuses including sexual harassment, non-payment of wages, and poor conditions, the situation has continued to deteriorate.

According to the Human Rights Watch, Malaysia is home to significant large number of “house maids” mostly from neighboring country Indonesia. They are forced to work 18-hour days, seven days a week, and many a times denied their salaries.

Recently the Indonesian government raised its concern of the abusive treatment of its nationals that are employed in Malaysia as domestic workers in harsh conditions.

Among the complaints include the issue of employers abusing their domestic workers by denying them proper rest and sleep time, stalling their salaries and kept inbound house and not being allowed to contact their families and leave the…

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Those Varying Borderlands of Gloom and Light

The Gloom

Working in the gloom was not uncommon. All mediums came with advantages and drawbacks, seldom were they unconditionally generous.

Here, there was Dankness of the dripping sort which had soon put an end to his torch. He never had cared for lamps with their greasy or oily fumes and cumbersome inclinations. Far better to enhance limited vision with your other senses, and of course caution. Arguably you might be better off without a torch anyway, for then you could wield your sword easier without the glare impeding your vision. Find your way by steady step and one hand gliding over the nearest wall. And always remember the watcher whatever or whoever they were had the first advantage, some sort of advantage of your own.

This would be a poor and humiliating place to find luck had finally expired. No grand venture for some noble close to the Imperial Throne, who desired something but whose rank required discretion. Instead in a remote squalid location, simply to make good on an error, a salve to a petty lord with far more vanity and ill-conceived pride than character. A place where small, slithering base things dwelt, their deadliness paid out in sly, instinctive reactions, no sliver of comfort that they revelled in the kill; no roaring out a challenge and bellowing victory over your body. Not for you the bleached skull posted somewhere to mark your end, only the slow ugly decay as smaller things feasted on your flesh, chewed on your bones and what was left was rolled along by a fetid stream to be swallowed by swamp or mud. These were the places which usually claimed the inexperienced or the lost. The humiliation would be of someone finding out where The End had finally been met and for what reason.

He stopped to steady himself, intending to shake loose the creeping tendrils of Desolation such places and circumstances birthed. He had traversed sharper places. He should treat this as no more than groping around in a sewer for a misplaced purse. Time to gather in all the instincts and experiences, treat this as but a task to be done and no more.     

He wanted to move on, for there was no option. However all hard gained knowledge and perceptions warned him there was something else out there, aside from any small creature. Waiting, lurking, watching. Whatever this was had been very still and patient, until his closing proximity appeared to have unsettled this stance, there was a rising of breath, the barest of sounds of movement. He stilled the irrational relief at a possible challenge, there were always the creatures, one careless move could cause them to strike out from their deep, wet gloom, and there would be no contest.

‘Hey fellah,’ the traditional greeting to a stranger came in clear, slightly anxious words surprising him. A greeting by anything so female should be sultry, tempting, lowering your guard before the strike. The eyes not two person’s length away widened, as if to signal there was no threat; a good killer always kept their eyes hooded in darkness, eyes could reflect even the barest of light.

‘Hey yourself girl,’ he replied, also honouring tradition, he kept alert but spoke casually, good manners cost nothing ‘Are you lost or here with a purpose?’

Carefully viewing and measuring the shifting of the shades of gloom, he discerned the outline of someone seated against the wall, legs hunched up to avoid the dangerous pools and watery traces.

‘Never get lost,’ came the sulking reply ‘Don’t reckon on doing so neither,’

The drawl placed her from Hengestatia, a land he believed to be populated entirely by restless nonconformists.

‘How about you fellah? Come in out of the rain? Or,’ a mournful sigh issued ‘You intending to make a fool of yourself too?’  

‘Comments which suggest you know something more than I do,’

‘I wouldn’t say that. I’m hearing an experienced and cultured venturer coming to a soul-sucking forlorn and remote place for no more than a candlestick which would get the finder laughed at on most markets be they open or behind doors,’ a bitter laugh followed ‘Now why would that happen? Unless said venturer been so long in highly thought of quests they forgot to look down and tripped over their own reputation?’

Hengestatians, ever loquacious, even if they were astute. 

‘Very well. On taking a short cut I inadvertently insulted a local lord of low character and intellect when stopping his drunken obnoxious son from forcing his attentions on a tavern serving girl; fists and an introduction to a midden were involved. The lord required I look for this lost valuable family artifact, or he would burn down the tavern as he co-blamed the owner. You?’ the last word was pointed.

There followed the sound of something lightly striking the wall, he guessed it was the back of her head.

‘Nothing as noble as yours. Common enough stumbling amongst the ranks of us lesser venturers. Did start in a tavern though. Got to drinking with fellow scrabblers and we started to swap notions on which would be the most stupid of quests here abouts and someone came up with The Candelabrum of House Waardeloos; them being an object of derision in this princedom, so singularly useless and negligible, folk of your style would not have heard of them,’

‘I have now,’ he said bitterly ‘Go on, there must be more,’

‘C’mon over here classy venturer,’ he stiffened at the overture, relaxed at the sudden weariness causing a thickening of the accent ‘I don’t feel much like speakin’ this out loud,’ a cough of a laugh followed by an obscenity ‘Scraith. Don’t it get tiring?’

Caution his byword as he grew closer, there was a flick of a match and a faint geometric glow from a box she held. A young lined face, framed in pale hair, she was possibly a handspan taller than most women, dressed in travel hardened leathers and buckskins, a wide-brimmed hat flipped back, a tough smile.

‘My. An’t you a looker too,’ she patted the rock gesturing him to sit. He slumped down next to her ‘You’ll like the joke on this one. We got around to cards. I musta drunk a smidge too much. Kept playing the hands bad. Ended up betting my best sword, knife and gauntlets. Lost. At the time, seemed they were being kindly over it. Said if I could bring back that stupid-ass’d candle, it would make up for being so stupid as to lose my gear,’ she tailed off with a long sigh. ‘Least I had the sense to keep mechanical illumination,’

‘No disrespect, I have heard funnier endings to stories,’

‘An’t done yet,’ the sulking again. ‘Cause the punch-line only came to me when I got here. I’ve been down the tunnel a bit, comes to a sudden drop, my little gubbinz here only illuminates to gloom ten paces, so down goes a stone. Counted,’ she held up a hand ‘Six…damn six…. That’s like two hundred paces, ‘bout a hundred man drop. And’ she held up one finger to the gloom. There’s no going beyond that drop. S’ a wall,’ she bumped her head again ‘Set me thinking, those fellows knew it would end up here. No one carries two hundred paces of rope or clambers into nowhere for a market day selling candle. They set me up to fail, keeping really good quality weaponry,’

‘And I by honour bound was obliged to try,’ he said in empathy.

‘There was a splash too,’ she added ‘Frib’ knows what would be waiting down there,’

They looked at each other, the shared expression of two who should have known better, but had let one guard or another down and wandered into situations they had usually avoided.

‘Luck and sense run out with the best of us,’ she said, then suddenly extended a hand to him ‘Betherelle Gettis,’ by way of introduction.

‘Varow Dekyria,’ he replied and shook her hand.   

They lapsed back into silence.

Previously he had expected one day in battle, old injuries, age, over-confidence, poor judgement or some quirky event would be his downfall. Not just running out of confidence and the humiliation of being herded here like some farm animal, tethered by Honour and Reputation.

‘Unless I get that candlestick he will burn down the tavern,’ he said, hoping speaking out the words would give him resolve.

‘Sure Master Venturer Dekyria. You go and try, lose you grip and fall, into some deep ice cold water which’ll rip your breath out, stop you swimming to the plinth or whatever. Or trying to clamber up, cold, shivering, losing that grip again,’ a slight shrug ‘Me, I just lose good gear, walk away looking a fool. I can get good gear again, go to another part of the empire, piece together another ragged sort of a reputation,’

‘You must be short on resources,’

‘At my end of the business a little bit of light  thievery is not frowned upon,’

The word  landed lightly first as an observation, then settled.

‘What sort of light thievery Betherelle Gettis?’

‘Don’t sound so censorious Master Venturer Dekyria. Finding unsecure windows and doors and tippy-toeing into places where folk can afford a small loss,’ a little hurt seeped into her voice ‘All beneath your status I am sure,’

‘I apologise. My curiosity took hold,’

‘You sound suddenly planful,’

A pause that stretched her nerves followed.

‘Much experience of combat with your lost sword and knife?’

‘An interesting question,’ she sat up ‘Since we’re down amongst the drainage as it were, no. Mostly fists and knees, or hilt of the sword on the nogging. Sharp end for defence before running off. Only served mild wounds and maybe two deaths to my name. My line is scouting, look-out, being an extra body to intimidate, relieving of fat purses by hard suggestion and,’ brittle cough ‘That light thievery. Good at it all too,’ her eyes glinted knowingly ‘Combat? You’d probably see me off in a count of five. If I was lucky to get the chance to flee, that is. What’re you scheming all of a sudden?’

‘My experience’ he chose his words ‘Is more in combat. I can moved deftly, but had the luxury of feeling if discovered I could fight my way out. You seem far better based for avoiding danger,’

‘Know your limits I say. What road are we treading? I’m guessing there’s a ‘We’ in this chat,’ 

‘I admit on realising the true extent of this wretched business I fell prey to despondency. Listening to your view of this work I am angry at being caught out by such a wretch and his worthless son. The candlestick is of no importance. The well being of the tavener, his family, staff and neighbours are. This lord is in the way,’

There was a long low whistle.

‘You gonna remove him and his progeny from this mortal world? That’s a turn around, heavy duty, no mistake,’

‘It would not be the first time I have been part of such an enterprise. I only need someone who is deft at finding their way into a place,’

A soft puff of an exclamation.

‘I dunno. I got no quarrel with this fellow. Killing lords hangs around you for a long time and distance,’

‘There again Betherelle Gettis. Success in such a venture also gives you a new sort of status to those higher than mere lords,’

‘Oh my. Here was I thinking you worked only noble causes,’ she fingered the box, light and shade moving across her face’ Mope in here, slouch out. Or?’

There was a  smirk.

‘I’ll see you in then and watch your back?’

‘One extra matter,’

‘Yeah?’ suspicion

‘Best we marry after. Husband and wife teams carry more value and oddly, dignity,’

‘Why, Master Venturer Dekyria. How could a girl refuse such an offer?’

Good People Doing Good Things — Aaron Jackson

A true hero

Filosofa's Word

I don’t know how it is that Aaron Jackson has not flown onto my ‘good people’ radar screen before, but he’s there now and deserves recognition.  Jackson was a CNN Hero back in 2007, a few years before I started my ‘good people’ posts, and he has been noted for numerous humanitarian causes since then.  A bit about Mr. Jackson’s background from Wikipedia provides a foundation before I get into the reason he is on my radar today …

“Aaron Jackson is an American human rights and environmental activist. Jackson was raised in Destin, Florida and attended Valencia College until 2002. After backpacking around the world, he interned at The Homeless Voice, an advocacy group in Davie, Florida, and became director of the COSAC Homeless Shelter. The first orphanages he opened in Haiti were established using money he made as a golf caddy while living in a homeless shelter in…

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MARINA OVSYANNIKOVA NEEDS OUR HELP!

Here is a post in praise of a courageous woman. Remember this name

Ideas From Outside the Boxes

Marina Ovsyannikova is the woman who was detained after warning the people of Russia that they were being lied to, the woman who sacrificed herself to try to STOP WAR!

She tried to help the world. Now she needs help from the world. The whole world needs to loudly protest her detainment, and demand she be presented to the world unharmed.

Please, I am begging you, do whatever you can to save not only this woman, but all the Russian citizens who have been arrested for protesting the War in Ukraine. Stop Putin Now!

And while you are at it, Stop the War in Ukraine Now!

SAY HER NAME: MARINA OVSYANNIKOVA!

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Celebrating #InternationalWomensDay

The Human Lens

In connection to the International Women’s Day, celebrated annually on March 8, here is our special series running at the blog.

As adopted by the United Nations in the year 1977 that was aided by the second and third wave of feminism, March 8 is a reminder to global community about the strength, determination and courage displayed by women across different countries.

Every year, the UN has celebrated the day on the basis of different themes centered on women’s rights and issues.

The 2022 theme for International Women’s Day is, “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow.”

This year’s celebration shall recognize and celebrate the contribution of women and girls around the world, who are leading the change for a more sustainable and climate-resilient future for all.

In lieu of the celebration, the UN Women Executive Director Director Sima Bahous statement read as : “Let us make this International Women’s…

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I Ask Of You A Difficult Task

Truth be known. Some might think this as two tasks. Some might feel the source material and sentiments are not appropriate. Stay with me though.

Firstly I would ask you to read the following Russian (there’s the current trigger word) WWII poem by writer and war correspondent Konstantin Simonov, written in 1941 to actress Velentina Serova. The moving work was carried by many USSR soldiers, wrapped with a picture of their wife or girlfriend, it became an unofficial icon, a means of coping, a hope the bearer would survive.

Wait for Me

Wait for me, and I’ll come back!
Wait with all you’ve got!
Wait, when dreary yellow rains
Tell you, you should not.
Wait when snow is falling fast,
Wait when summer’s hot,
Wait when yesterdays are past,
Others are forgot.
Wait, when from that far-off place,
Letters don’t arrive.
Wait, when those with whom you wait
Doubt if I’m alive.

Wait for me, and I’ll come back!
Wait in patience yet
When they tell you off by heart
That you should forget.
Even when my dearest ones
Say that I am lost,
Even when my friends give up,
Sit and count the cost,
Drink a glass of bitter wine
To the fallen friend –
Wait! And do not drink with them!
Wait until the end!

Wait for me and I’ll come back,
Dodging every fate!
“What a bit of luck!” they’ll say,
Those that did not wait.
They will never understand
How amidst the strife,
By your waiting for me, dear,
You had saved my life.
How I made it, we shall know,
Only you and I.
You alone knew how to wait –
We alone know why!

That was the easy part.

Now I want you to think of that poem not as a soldier to his love, I want you to see the writer as HOPE, writing to you. I ask you to not to think on how moving to read of such intimacy between two people. I want you to think of this notion HOPE we hold so dear, speaking to you. Of course, within you, some of the words and phrases will change to fit your perceptions, this is fine; the necessity is to cling to HOPE.

In the spirt of the poem this is not the soft HOPE we all evoke ‘Gee I hope things will be better’ and then leaving the rest to someone or something else. This is the dogged, persistent HOPE in the face of all seeming evidence to the contrary. The one which keeps us carrying on and not falling into the mires of Fear, Dread, Despair or those wretched excuses for not wishing to face Reality: Conspiracy Theories and Fashionable Cynicism. HOPE which takes you beyond the boundaries of Reason. HOPE which all your experience thus far tells you is a naïve and pointless exercise, because all the evidence, dependant on the situation is whispering or screaming at you there is nothing left but Doom and Gloom, ‘Roll up all the maps’  ‘Shred those inspirational posters’  ‘Sing nothing but lamentations,’ …….and so on. Yet, HOPE is there, just because.

This HOPE is a hard Task-Maker. It does not promise you perfect solutions. It does not try to sell you The Happy Dawn or The Cheerful Ending, Song (and roll credits) This HOPE is about the beginning, the one which is unsatisfactory but better than all the alternatives which could arise. This is the HOPE for a grudging end to fighting and an ill-humoured backing off. This is the HOPE which serves up rations, blankets and some shelter, to stave off the hunger, the dispassionate elements of weather and the fear. But this is the HOPE which lays the groundwork for other HOPES to seed and grow and from them even brighter ones and so on.

This is a tough HOPE. It is used to being mistaken for and called other names such as Fatalism, Cynicism, Realpolitik or Pragmatism. This HOPE knows them well and sometimes even rides in on their vehicles, grinning knowingly because it has turned them to its use.

This HOPE knows it treads a lonely and harsh road. Yet it bids you follows, for without this rough companion your eyes are clouded with grey hopelessness or blood red rage, your ears are filled with screams which will not be blocked out, your meals taste of ashes and you smell burning and dead. Your thoughts are ragged, your heart turns to a husk and your capacities for Compassion, Tolerance and Respect wither away to a sharp stalks fit only to be used to lash out in futility as you stagger in a haze seeking a solace which in the paradox of human nature you deny; Hopelessness.

Wait therefore, beyond the roiling caused by emotions of the latest media feed, and the confusion of a myriad of discordant sounds. Wait not for the perfect dawn, the soft tender brush of first sunlight, the cheer of birdsong and the growing warmth of day. HOPE as you wait for the coming soon of night’s end; HOPE for the storm and the chill to end; HOPE your shelter will hold fast. Then as you rise HOPING for HOPE, embrace its own patch of warmth, its sliver of comfort, its whisper that your HOPE is one voice in a choir which despite all that may be visible never stopped singing HOPE‘s song. For all The World

You may scoff, you may doubt, you may even wonder just what this post was about. You should not be surprised to feel so, I did give you advanced warning of what was ahead.

You may go away, feeling you’ve ‘Got it’. Then in unknown days ahead come to feel the return of the burden of the media feed and things you feel you have learnt and your hold on HOPE start to lessen. You should not feel surprise to feel those either, I know I will. Thus you must return to holding tight to the rough calloused hand of this HOPE.

A Difficult Task to consistently HOPE with all your heart.

IWD2022 -Aurat March Pakistan Manifesto

The struggle for Freedom is always world-wide.

The Human Lens

As the world gears up for the global action for the International Women Day, March 8, here are few highlights from Aurat March organization’s activities in the country.

Ahead of the IWD2022, Aurat March Lahore organization released their manifesto on Twitter and this year theme is “Reimagining Justice” or “Asal Insaaf”.

They call upon the Pakistani society at large and the State to reimagine legal, economic and environmental justice along the lines for gender equality.

This feature will focus on the manifesto and charter of demands for 2022. Here are some of the excerpts including:

1. Radical, structural reform of the justice system should be undertaken instead of superficial gender representation, such as the mere integration of more women or gender minorities into structurally patriarchal policing and judicial systems.

2. Survivor-centric welfare institutions receive more funding and are strengthened to provide shelter, housing, healthcare, economic and psycho-social services to survivors…

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Today It Is Ukraine. Yesterday It Was Elsewhere. Tomorrow? This Never Rests.

Where do we begin? How do we explain?

24th February 2022. Another Date To Remember….So many events, actions and commentaries since the day Putin and his court decided to take the next step in their endeavours to bring The Ukraine back under Kremlin control. The avalanche into the medias has been such that I literally had to check the start date. It was as if Time measured in days had ceased to be a relevant method of recording, all that counted was The Narrative, every daily action is affected by The Narrative, even Sunrise and Sunset are but part of the backdrop. So many folk are asking ‘How could this happen?’ Understandable.

Under the lens of the seemingly disturbing and dispassionate study of International Relations’ Realism theories what is happening in the Ukraine is predictable, almost inexorable. However this is not the arena to be bandying terms such as ‘Anarchic World System’, ‘Biopolarity’ or ‘Interests’. Their uses are better suited to academic discussions of less vivid times and not against the scenes of raw death and suffering.

As with most events, cases and mindsets in Europe and East of the Dnieper into Russia to focus on How We Got Here is a long road. In terms of Ukraine one which requires a journeying back centuries. To Kievan Rus of the 9th Century (No Vlad you got that wrong about it not being a nation), its disintegration in the 11th to 12th centuries and the subsequent seven centuries of empires, nations and tribes fighting for territory until by the 19th Century it became part of the Russian Empire. There is a pause. Then with the intense industrial wars of the 20th Century the whole complexity of nations, peoples and beliefs starts again. For nothing is simple in Europe / Russia; arguably a portion of land which in terms of area and populations has been a place of more conflicts than any other part of the world. Heritages, folk memories, ethnicities ,injustices often correct, and always very selective run deep. No coincidence the arms industries and sciences settled then proliferated here. Blame America of the World’s ills? Blame its parents.

None of this excuses Putin and his court. They had enough recent lessons to know this would not be a swift walk in. Finland 1939. Ukraine Nationalist Insurrection 1944 to…1955?. Afghanistan 1979 to 1989; a toxic baton taken over by the West in 2001 to 2021. Chechnya (a running sore, still)  The USA / UK’s hubristic invasions of Iraq 2003 to 2011. To name the more prominent ones. And those were ones with military costs (aside from the minor fracas over the 1980 Olympics). Another big power, deluded by its apparent military might falls into another quagmire, an old, old story they never bother to read. They don’t get to walk away from this one though. This is happening in The First World.

And suddenly Western Europe is flexing financial, political, social, cultural and commercial muscles. China is concerned and arguably the USA is running to catch up. Where did that surge of anger and resolve come from? Two decades of teeth grinding frustration at the rise of suspect money? Two decades of seeing Russia is quite as capable of dishing out even more than The USA can in terms of military ‘solutions’. Maybe all those decades of The Cold War and what could happen if it turned warm and those echoes of two world wars came crashing back? Take your pick; mix and match? Though this is harder to fight against Putin. You can blow up a tank, it’s not so easy to destroy a series of expulsions from an international community; you can try to threaten to invade everybody, but you can’t be everywhere at once.

Not that this is of much comfort for those huddled in a cold basement somewhere in Ukraine, short of food, water and maybe important medicines; children crying, walls and floors shaking; the sounds of war getting nearer. Not much help when you have been on the road for days and are in a situation where you are grateful for the least of shelters and supplies which only go from day to day, uncertain of where you family are, not knowing what will be left to return to. War was ever like this. There will never be a clean, swift, surgical war. They tear, they grind, they are careless as they thrash around once the first plan and initial ideas burn up in the consuming destruction and counter destruction. What is happening in Ukraine is bad, it is unthinkable!… No. Think again. You know war did not stop with 1945, but was not just limited to those which made the nightly news. To a villager in some far away third world location to destruction visited by local security forces, militia or self-styled resistance groups, the horror and the suffering are the same. If you are distressed by one, then you should be equally distressed by them all. Selective outrage just does not cut it for the innocent. Ukraine is on TV, it is an example written in burning letters twenty stories high, laced with the choking tang that comes with the conflagration, the fuel of which you are advised not look to deeply at; your imagination will suit.

You should feel anguish. You should donate aid as best you can. You should shout against this invasion. You should also give some of your wrath to those who try and justify naked aggression or worse divert attention because it suits their own blinkered views. There are folk out there on all sides of the political divides who by default have blood on their hands because they could, but did not react or claimed reaction was wrong. A crime just as bad, in the dead or weeping eyes of the innocent. You see nothing is simple, we are fortunate this very visible one in Ukraine seems so. There are some in small shadowed corners of the world where the lines are blurred and twisted.

So we watch and we wait. But we don’t get to switch channels or turn to the sports entertainment or fashion pages so easily. This is First World ‘Business’. It demands and sucks in the attention of all. But remember, if we in the rest of the First World do get out, without a Covid-like spread, there will be a First World nation to repair, while across this Globe, the same miseries and sufferings will continue.