I grew up not really knowing what it means to stand in the face of something that you have no choice but to fight. I could almost always pick my battles.
I’ve certainly been angry about things that have happened to me. I’ve stood my ground when I felt I had to. I’ve spoken up about things that have gone too far. I’ve even given up, retreated, saved my energy for more important fights. Or given up in the face of something that I knew I could never win against.
It was always my own interest or someone close to me that motivated my actions. But I’ve never had to stand when every fibre of my being down to my bones told me that my death would be the likely outcome. Like walking out into the street spreading my arms wide and being shot dead by an invading soldier. Was I spreading my arms in supplication to God, in my own weakness, or in welcome of a peaceful solution? The Russian soldiers in Ukraine don’t seem to care one way or the other.
Soldiers of course know this feeling well. Some felt called to the profession whether or not they learned the hard way what it was all about. Others were forced into it for other reasons. My father was in the US Army but I was never called, internally or externally, to being a soldier. I have no disrespect for those in the military, I’m simply expressing how my life went another direction.
Recently I saw a photograph of a young and beautiful Ukrainian woman, seemingly not much more than a teenager, with her entire life still ahead of her. I’m an Artist so my eyes started analysing the picture and I was confused about what she was carrying on her back. After a few seconds I realized she had a machine gun of some kind slung over her shoulder, carrying it like a backpack or purse. The juxtaposition was bizarre and jarring.
There are many places on our planet that unfortunately have military conflict ongoing. We see it reported in the news almost every day. But the conflict in Ukraine, it’s obviously a war and a savage one, has managed to bring these conflicts right to our doorsteps. Certainly the European Union has seen that. Everyone is amazed at the outright cruelty and destruction that has come from what we thought was a modern country, Russia.
I see a difference between what was in that photo and what we here in the USA think of when it comes to gun ownership. Seeing that photo of the woman with her gun slung over the shoulder now made perfect sense to me and I realized that she had every right to it.
Of course I stand with the people of Ukraine, if in nothing more than my words written here. I hope that this young woman lives a long and happy life in a free Ukraine.