I prepared the March articles before Russia invaded Ukraine. I interrupt what I had planned to write, for #StandWithUkraine.
It is hard to decide how to appropriately respond to the gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, mind-boggling news about the atrocities inflicted on the Ukrainian people, who only want what we all want – the ability to determine our own national destinies.
Listening to the news is particularly poignant as, before Russia invaded Ukraine, my book club decided to review The Dutch Girl by Robert Matzen. It is the biography of Audrey Hepburn and her experiences during World War II in Holland. I’m listening to the audio version and feeling especially connected to the folks in Ukraine as I hear the author describe in vivid detail what Audrey and her family experienced during the war that was supposed to end wars.
Desperate Situations Yield Heroic Responses
In Audrey’s situation, children went into the fields and forests in search of anything edible. The Nazi’s didn’t pay much attention to children, but frequently shot adults for no reason other than they could. In the Ukraine situation, people are responding in all sorts of amazing ways. Hundreds of people are booking AirBnB reservations they will not use to get funds into the hands of Ukrainian hosts. Corporations are refusing to do business with Russians. Dock workers won’t unload Russian cargo.
Seeing such a unified response has been as gratifying as witnessing the ruthless violence has been discouraging. The worse in some always draws out the best from others.
Make a Difference
Last Sunday we learned that one of our congregational members has a grandmother living in a Slovak community less than 50 miles from Russia. She is a member of one of four Lutheran churches yoked together into one congregation. The congregation is served by a husband/wife two clergy team. We have been asked to officially partner with them. In a recent e-mail from the pastors we learned they are trying to help 80,000 Ukrainian refugees displaced into their community.
The situation is desperate. Anything any of us can do will make a difference. The donations of money and supplies help, not only because both are needed, but also because donations send a strong signal that the rest of the world knows and cares about their plight.
Compassion, Not Revenge
Every generation has known evil monsters who care nothing about others. Greedy and power hungry people will stop at nothing to inflict pain on men, women, children, infrastructures, antiquities, and wildlife. The best defense against such mindless slaughter is compassion and aid.
Though I am deeply disturbed by the carnage I’ve witnessed, I am also encouraged by the global response. Perhaps the human race has finally come to terms with the reality that what happens in one part of the world affects what happens in all the other places.
Wars do not resolve problems. Power is never permanent. Empires come and go. Our basic human needs for food, water, shelter, meaning, and community do not change from one generation to the next. We are bound together by invisible chords of mutual need for these things.
Our Turn to Respond
While military leaders, heads of state, and diplomats struggle with how best to put a stop to the indiscriminate destruction, we can respond with our prayers and our donations. There are many reputable organizations rushing aid to the front. Pick one and make a donation. It matters.
“I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time — waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God — it changes me.” C. S. Lewis
May our prayers and donations change the situation in Ukraine in their favor
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Mayflower Chronicles: The Tale of Two Cultures covers the Pilgrim’s escape from England and much more of the interaction between them and the Pokanoket people. Available wherever books are sold in paperback, eBook, and audio.
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