March 14, 2022

The Heartbreaking Things we don’t know about when Politicians Declare War.

I saw my Ukrainian friend today, and she told me about how her sister refuses to leave her boyfriend in Ukraine and how her mother’s heart is breaking.

She is scared.

She is so scared for her little girl.
War is started by politicians and suffered by people.

People like you and I.

Imagine, one evening you are sitting in your living room working on your laptop and drinking tea, daydreaming about where you want to go on holiday next.

You didn’t know that the next day you would wake up at 5 a.m. and be told you needed to pack now to leave the country.

Take as little as possible. We need to travel light.

When you get to the border, you are told you can leave, but your boyfriend can’t.

You don’t want to leave without him. You can’t leave him.
You love him and he is your world.
So you stay. You stay together and wait to see what happens.
But now it’s escalating.
And your mum is scared.
Your sister is scared.
You are scared, but you are pretending it’s all okay.

You tell yourself, it’s going to be okay.

It has to be okay.

I don’t really know anything about the political situation…about what is actually going on between Russia and Ukraine, Putin and NATO.
I don’t know.
I’ve read all about it.
I’ve heard all about it.
I’ve tried to get as many facts as I can.
I still know nothing of the truth.

Not the truth that you read about in the paper just now.

The actual truth.

The exposed facts are contradictory and two-faced, and they are tangled up with conspiracy theories from every angle.
There are no two sides to this.

I cannot fathom it. I just can’t get it.
And as much as you want to, neither can you.

We know nothing of the bigger picture, so let’s look in the direction of what we do know.

We know that people are suffering.
We know that people are scared.
They are not hard-nosed people who are “used to this sort of thing.”
They are like you and your friends, your family and your neighbors.
There is a 14 year-old-girl who got her nails done the other day for the first time. They are pink with white tips.

A french manicure.
There is a four-year-old boy who got a football for his birthday last week and wants to go out and play.

He doesn’t understand why he can’t.

There is a man who will celebrate his 80th birthday soon.

Alone in a basement, separated from his family.
There is a mother whose son just turned 18 last month. She was so proud.

Yet now, she is terrified.
There is a 30-year-old woman who finally met the love of her life a few months ago. She is pregnant with their first child.

How many more are there?

Children who will never wake up again.
Mothers experiencing the most unimaginable pain.

Terrified children being sent to the front line.

How many more will there be?

My friend and I talked about how when we would see war on TV, we knew it was terrible, we knew of the suffering. But without personal connections, we didn’t feel that pain.

That pain she is feeling now.

Her sister and boyfriend, along with many of their friends, are living in Lviv now. My friend says it’s safe there.

Safe: “Not in danger, or likely to be harmed.”

They hear air raid sirens day and night.
They don’t feel safe.

Her sister works remotely with a team that is scattered all across the country. Some of them have been hiding in basements, some cannot get food. If someone doesn’t “show up” in the morning, they fear the worst.

She and many friends are volunteering.
In my friend’s old university, they are making equipment for the soldiers.
Her best friend’s husband is going to fight.

He is 26.

The city is still functioning relatively normally, apart from the air raid sirens and restricted facilities. Everyone knows where to hide when the sirens go off.

My friend told me that her people just want—need—to be heard. Not the politicians, not the leaders or the people you see reporting the news.

The people.

The people are scared.

The people need help.

The people want to be heard.

“Older men declare war. But it is the youth that must fight and die.” ~ Herbert Hoover

Politicians declare war. But it is the people who suffer.


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