Like most Ukrainians, Yulia and I want to get on with our lives. We are not interested in living in a state of perpetual war. We moved to Ukraine to grow a beautiful garden, fix an old house, and maybe even enjoy ourselves. We are doing that and try to blog about it whenever we get a breather from our very busy lives.
But we also came to Ukraine because we love the country. We love the land and the people. I have more family than I ever realized living here. Yulia and I try and treat everyone with respect, whether it be family or strangers. We are doing our best to be responsible caretakers of our land.
Along with that responsibility comes the job of protecting it from people who want to destroy it. We have attended protests and railed against international fossil fuel companies who were planning on drilling for shale gas in our immediate area. Thankfully, that threat has passed for now. Unfortunately, war has been spreading across our country for quite some time now, and we can't ignore it. We do not relish writing about it on our blog. We wish we could write about eating healthy and planting trees (and we will). But I just wanted to share some thoughts that came out of a conversation Yulia and I had not too long ago.
Like many people who live far away from the battles, we read about the war in the news. I was particularly sickened by the attack on Mariupol, where rockets were fired from behind Russian lines into the city. Thirty people were killed. All but one were civilians who were going about their daily lives when they were suddenly killed.
The Russian side has been called many names since this conflict started. People say that they are "zombified" (due to the high level of brainwashing happening in the Russian world) and refer to them as potato beetles because of the orange and black striped ribbons the separatists often wear. However, the fact remains that they are human just like all of us. I believe that very few people are actually evil by nature.
What would prompt someone sitting in a truck to fire unguided rockets into a city of 500,000 people is beyond me. Trying to understand a person with such a mindset has been sobering. I've lost my former naivete. I no longer think our enemy in this war is just trying to build what they think is a better country. I think they are trying to create an environment of chaos as their end goal. Up until now they had a chaotic environment provided for them by Ukraine's criminal presidents (most notably Leonid Kuchma and Viktor Yanukovych). Now they face the prospect of Ukrainians building a more enlightened, democratic society, and they are frightened that they will have to start living like responsible adults.
I shared these thoughts with Yulia, and she said she thinks that this war began long ago. It has grown out of a collective culture which allows people to act without fear of consequences. I think she's right. These are broken, traumatized people whose psychological disorders have never been addressed. Their sicknesses did not just develop overnight, so I don't think it is accurate to say that these people are simply resisting the democratic changes that have swept Ukraine in the past year. The sooner the Ukrainian side realizes this, the better. Their psychological wounds have been festering for a long time. Sadly, Ukraine still faces a long road of collective rehabilitation after the violence stops.