From my Ukrainian friend: “I pray that this dark hour will give way to a rosy morning.”

From my Ukrainian friend: “I pray that this dark hour will give way to a rosy morning.”

Please donate to provide humanitarian aide to the people of Ukraine. One good organization to support, among many, is “Nova Ukraine” Go to www.novaukraine.org

Today we continue to mourn the suffering, death and destruction in Ukraine, now three weeks into the Russian invasion. My heart hurts from the senseless and brutal violence day after day. No one knows when it will end. It’s hard for most of us here in the US to truly imagine what’s it like, even to imagine just being there. But I can, at least a little bit – because, over 30 years ago, I was there, as a peace activist, when the old Soviet Union was just starting to come apart. I love the beautiful land of Ukraine, and the amazing strength of its people. I spent a lot of time with a dear Ukrainian friend, Olena, and her family, who are from the northern city of Chernihiv. I remember one beautiful spring day by a nearby river when suddenly a boat floated by with the now-familiar blue and yellow flag of independent Ukraine as a mast, but back then, displaying it was quite forbidden. The fearless spirit of the people really struck me, and that’s why I’m not surprised at how fiercely and effectively they are resisting now. I have no doubt that they will never give up, no matter the odds, and they will eventually prevail.

In the meantime though, Ukrainians are suffering tremendously. Olena has been living in the US for many years now, but much of her family is still in Ukraine, still in Chernihiv. The city is under siege with constant shelling and bombing, and just yesterday, 10 people standing in a bread line were killed from shelling. Olena wrote me, “These two weeks have been extraordinarily difficult, emotionally and otherwise. We tried to persuade my mom and stepfather to leave before the war began but we didn’t succeed. Soon after Russia unleashed the all-out war, it became very dangerous to leave. So they remain in Chernihiv. Their situation is still bearable but growing more difficult… Still, this is a lot better than for many, many Ukrainians. Both staying and leaving are very risky and, thus far, negotiations have not resulted in ‘evacuation corridors’ for civilians from Chernihiv.”

And in her Facebook posts, Olena wrote, “People in Chernihiv are trying to survive after more than two weeks of savage Russian airstrikes that damaged all vital civilian infrastructure, including sewage, water, electricity, gas, heating, internet and telephone. bombed apartment buildings, killed civilians, and destroyed vital infrastructure … But that’s not enough for them … They are also destroying theaters, libraries, schools and our beloved soccer stadium… Everything that was built and preserved over decades and even centuries… People are trying to build toilets outdoors because the sewage system doesn’t work. People are trying to cook outdoors because electric and gas stoves do not work. People are trying to recharge their phones at scarce generators running on hard-to-secure gasoline.”

Those who have known me over the years know I’m quite strongly against war and violence of all kinds, but I definitely support the Ukrainian resistance, much of which actually uses classic nonviolence tactics against a numerically more powerful military force. For the Ukrainian people, it is a matter of survival.

Please help the people of Ukraine. There are many organizations providing humanitarian aid and assistance. I donated to one that Olena recommended – Nova Ukraine. Their website is: www.novaukraine.org

And check out Olena’s Facebook page for updates on Ukraine:
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100006693828357

This is a time of great sadness, but also great hope. As Olena posted yesterday, “I pray that this dark hour will give way to a rosy morning of a more united, more just and more caring world committed to the collective defense of peace and human right”