I have added at the end of this post a link to a video that shows the solidarity in Poland, and links to organisations you can support for this war and other conflicts and wars.
I hesitated posting the first part as it’s quite political. I don’t think I have the right ideas, the right knowledge, and others don’t. This is my attempt to understand the situation, and not The Truth.
I am trying to make sense of what’s happening at the moment, and of our reaction in western Europe.
I am trying to understand but not excuse, I want to make this clear.
Why is it that we react so strongly about the war in Ukraine when we probably didn’t individually, and nationally, react that way in relation to other conflicts and wars elsewhere in the world?
There is a racist aspect, that belief that white people are worth more than everyone else. Maybe as an individual you have always wanted all migrants to be treated the same, or even are involved in the process. But we live in a racist society. It’s subtle, but it is the case. I never knew how much until listening to accounts of people experiencing it. This systemic racism influences all society and how we related to others, including migrants.
There is a geographical and cultural aspect, I think : we are a bit like cousins who don’t see each other that often.
We are affected by the consequences of that war directly economically but also emotionally. We have in mind the ideal that the European Union was built on: keeping peace, at least on the European sub-continent.
There is the fact that we have gotten used to seeing conflicts and wars in other parts of the world. They should not happen, but we are not so surprised because we have “always” seen them since we were kids.
I talked about it with my mum, who watches the news more than me, and she has the same feeling: we talk a lot more about conflicts and wars elsewhere in the world than when they happen in Europe.
Side note: how much has the West really helped, and how much has it made things so much worse in all those conflicts? We are white of skin but not of actions – and intentions.
Second side note: from what I understand, NATO, the EU, the US and other influential countries have a part of responsibility in the war in Ukraine. Again, we are not so innocent .
A few days ago I was out for a walk with my mum and I asked her:
“Do you think the war will come here?
Should we get ready for it?
And how are we even supposed to get ready?”
Then, as we passed an area full of houses being built:
“There are no underground cellars in modern houses.”
For the past week or so I have started wondering again how I would face a war.
Only this time I am not a kid having nightmares about a war that happened a long time ago, the second world war, and able to wake up, turn on the light and soothe myself. (I was also traumatised by the news during the war in Yougoslavia, if I’m getting the time period right.)
I am an adult thinking she should know what to do, she should get ready, she should know the answers, and the whys and the hows of what is happening.
Mum said the war would most likely not come here.
There will be countless more senseless and tragic deaths, we will most likely send our army, we will feel the effects of the war, but we will not go through what so many are facing now and what I feared part of my childhood.
I don’t even know what to feel, what is OK to feel.
I don’t know how to hold the paradox of feeling the pain of others, the outrage at how some lives are said to be worth more than others – Pushing back Black people at the borders? Pushing back at sea boats full of immigrants? Have you all forgotten the definition of humanity? – and the tentative relief at knowing this will not happen here – or will it?
The paradox of being glad I am safe yet knowing others are not, the paradox of playing with my cat and wondering how many people have left their pets behind…
I will laugh at a video and the next second feel the weight of what we, humans, are doing to our kind.
I don’t know what is OK to feel any more and I don’t know how to hold all those conflicting emotions at the same time.
And yet, somehow, I am.
How are you, really?
Humanity (uncountable noun): the quality of being kind, thoughtful, and sympathetic towards others. (Collins Dictionary)
Solidarity (uncountable noun): agreement between and support for the members of a group, especially a political group. (Collins)
A few days after finishing this article I saw a video made by Karolina Źebrowska, a Polish woman I follow for her posts and videos about historical fashion, about what is happening in Poland regarding the welcoming of Ukrainian refugees.
The video was posted on the 8th of March, so I am guessing things have changed since, but it really show the solidarity in Poland, and the historical, emotional, and architectural ties between the two countries – both former parts of the Soviet Union.
Ms Źebrowska mentions the feeling of returning to a place from her childhood when she went to Ukraine.
She also gives an update on foreign students stuck at the border: some people went to get some of them and bought them plane tickets home.
The video is in English, captions automatically provided.
« what’s happening in Poland right now – a life update »
I also wanted to include organisations to support:
These ones help everywhere:
International Committee of the Red Cross : https://www.icrc.org/en
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) : https://www.ifrc.org/
UNICEF (focuses on children and families): https://www.unicef.org
Doctors Without Borders: https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/
Medecins Sans Frontière: https://www.msf.org/
(I don’t know why there are two different websites since it’s the same organisation and the second one is translated into English and other languages.)
Air BnB is apparently waiving fees on bookings of properties in Ukraine.
They also have a program designed to help people in time of crisis to offer them short term stays – with a list of organisations they work / have worked with : https://www.airbnb.org
To help specifically Ukraine:
The National Bank of Ukraine “Opens Fundraising Account for Humanitarian Assistance to Ukrainians Affected by Russia’s Aggression”. It is overlooked by the Ministry of Social Policy.
The article from their website has all the explanations and account details (in English).