This February Week

“May you live in interesting times” is supposedly a Chinese curse.  Even before this week, our times felt accursedly “interesting,” and then came the sorrowful invasion of the Ukraine. 

It is hard to know how the world will ultimately react; whether, in other words, there will be a will to stick to sanctions.  A lot of Americans (and others) likely don’t feel very close to the Ukraine, and sadly, the only way that attention may be garnered or maintained will be through terrible human losses.

I too know little of the Ukraine. When I think of it, a Ukrainian neighborhood I once lived near coes to mind, one with wonderfully warm restaurants, windows fogged with the steam of delicious soups; plates stacked with challah french toast which shone like slices of sun.

One such restaurant had a tree growing up through the ceiling and the roof. We loved to see the waitresses and waiters scoot around it. Customers on the way to the teeny restroom also had to side step its slender, yet muscular trunk—you know how certain trees look actually muscled, with that wiry kind of muscle, the kind developed through life, not gym.

The Ukrainian-American I best knew was a pre-school assistant teacher at my daughter’s nursery school who somehow managed to rescue my daughter from potentially deadly situations twice in one year, once in a swim class, one from a lunchtime sandwich.

She had spiky (naturally) blonde hair, laughing blue eyes, and emanated perseverance, a strong sense of making do and making good. She was also decidedly not Russian.  I don’t know how this came up—maybe it arose in a discussion of the church in the neighborhood, which I may have wrongly denominated as Russian Orthodox 

I remember too my parents visiting Kiev, on a trip to the old Soviet Union, and their telling me of conversations with someone on a park bench telling my Dad, as he practiced his halting Russian, that they were Ukrainians in Ukraine, not Russians.  

I remember too all the talk of Ukraine being the bread basket of the old Soviet Union–one can readily imagine what will happen to their agricultural, mineral and consumer goods, if occupied.

All of this is anecdotal, of course.  But I worry that many Americans will, at some point ,simply shrug, vaguely convince themselves that Ukraine somehow belongs with Russia, especially if sanctions cause a rise in gas prices. (I hate too by the way the insanity that Trump would somehow have stopped this.  Sadly, Trump made autocrats around the world feel like “geniuses,” while also making allies doubt our allegiances.)

I don’t purport to know best next steps. And I do know that all of us have to look away from the world stage at times—it is too overwhelming–but at least we should recognize that a sovereign nation should not be invaded and occupied simply because another country can.

ps – the picture above was not intended to be about Ukraine, but when I was looking through recent drawings this morning, it made me think of the suffering there, and what I fear will be the rest of the world’s reluctance to accept the economic pain that may be a fall-out of sanctions on Russia. 

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One Comment on “This February Week”

  1. M Says:

    how can there be a peaceful outcome, now that the Czar has unleashed the machines of war? and to think some ‘conservatives’ in this nation support the crime. I try to imagine how Reagan or even Bush Sr might have regarded Putin… and I somehow doubt the word ‘genius’ would have been uttered. ~

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