Again There Is War

 Ukraine Civilian home

There is war. Again there is war on the European continent – war of type and magnitude not experienced in Europe since Hitler and the racism imperialism of Nazi Germany.  The war now is Putin’s war.

Last night, this morning, tomorrow, always the same. War is murder. It is organized murder on a large scale. War technology increases the scope and intricacies of war’s death and destruction, ever increasing the targeting of civilian populations.

Last night, this morning, tomorrow, always the same. Aging men with wealth and power, growingly conscious of their own mortality, send masses of the young into harm’s way, to kill and be killed.   Those in power secure and expand their power and the youth on all sides of whatever is the current conflict and militarized aggression lose their lives or lose their limbs being sacrificed to lies that distort and reduce reality, and make of young persons, depersonalized, numerical parts and pieces of the machinery of murdering, terrorizing populations, and destroying habitation.  War kills and maims breathing, aspiring, bleeding individuals. War also assails and disfigures the viable image of humanity and obscures, or buries, dismantles, acceptable recognitions of inclusive human dignity and affirmative cooperation.

Last night, this morning, tomorrow, warmongers justify their criminal intentions with propaganda identifying the enemy, the enemy who does not deserve life and peace, the enemy to be defeated, to be annihilated.

Race and living space were the ideological core of Hitler’s war and race and territorial empire is the motive force behind Putin’s war. And in each of these, as with every other, war is murder. Organized murder on a large scale. Whoever pretends otherwise is doing just that, pretending. Whoever defends intellectual evasion to military aggression opens the way to further aggression and future atrocities. The multiplication of criminal acts and magnitude of inflictive destruction and death in the blitz of modern, technocratic warfare speedily reaches levels of atrocity.

Because I, as a person, stand on the side of democracy; because I stand with the human value of freedom, freedom of conscience, freedom and responsibility; because I affirm life, resisting unjustified death, affirm spontaneities of joy above the oppressions of affliction and suffering; because I believe in peace, the simple decency and beauty of peace, and resist the horrors and madness of war; I am clearly certain that if I was Ukrainian and in the Ukraine on this day of war, my name would be on a list of dissidents in the hands of political assassins, to be apprehended, murdered, or expediently disappear.  Of course, this war, Putin’s war, is not about me, not directly engaged against me. Or is it?  Injustice and oppression will always strive to make itself look innocent, justified and acting on the side of right. Tyranny cannot maintain itself without removing and hence silencing voices of opposition, the open articulation of common ground, dialogue and inclusive dignity.  Perhaps if everyone reading these words took it to heart to look at war along these lines, for the sake of shared human values, an important change in permissibility and human identity would be in motion?

But what is the solution to this now, latest act in the long, ensanguined history of politicized inhumanity? Of course, nobody, at lease in the West, wants to see the war against the Ukraine expand further and pose the threat of escalating into a third world war.  Sanctions are important and the more unified, comprehensive, and even harsh, the more sanctions can be effective. But while fear and suffering will continue, while administering death will inevitably increase, the actual cessation of war is in the hands and will, hearts and voices of the Russian people. When they reach the point of saying no to Putin and his circle of oligarchs, sickened by crimes their children are committing and sick of their sons and daughters being brought back to them in body bags – when enough people in Russia herself want a peace and place of trust among the nations of the world, the invasion of Ukraine will end, the army come home and the dark ambitions of a ruling minority be replaced by affirmations of  self-determination and the rights of others.  How slow will this be in coming? How much death will be endured before the people of Russia arise and redefine themselves and their country?

Can it help at all to bring into view that there was a time in Russia’s history when creative voices of values and culture spoke of the Russian soul and significance of spirituality to Russian identity? In the long run it is a reawakening in the Russian people that can bring an end to the present war and provide a global example for developing non-murderous alternatives to future wars.

Putin chose the war against the sovereign nation and democratic people of Ukraine.  It will be up to the people of Russia, in the vigor of an activated collective Russian soul, to restore peace.

Let all of us, everywhere, who have public voices to speak for what Albert Camus called the constant, overarching decision “between hell and reason”, express both humanitarian support for the courage and resistance of the Ukraine and the courage and effective protest within Russia.  Suffering is a condition shared and courage is a requirement of change.

David Sparenberg is the author of CONFRONTING the CRISIS: Essays & Meditations on Eco Spirituality. He is a teacher of existential ecosophy and Eco-poet who lives in the Pacific NW of the United States.


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