I’m a little appalled at the apathy I’m seeing towards the invasion of Ukraine today. Whether or not you are a citizen of Ukraine, or know someone who is, this should matter to you. We are watching history happen in real time. And if this doesn’t scare you, you need a reality check. It should.
Do I believe that this attack signifies the beginning of a third world war? No, not until more time passes and we have more information. I do still believe that it’s naive to pretend that the only people who are affected by this are citizens of Ukraine. It’s dangerous for us to keep minimizing how dangerous Vladimir Putin is. People are losing their lives right now. The people in Ukraine are sitting in their homes right now, scared, hoping that it’s not their city that’s bombed next. The President of Ukraine has pleaded with the people of Russia, not as a leader but as a citizen, to truly consider whether or not they want war. And the fact of the matter is, most people in Russia do not want this.
We have to face the reality. Vladimir Putin has had time to prepare for something of this magnitude. He has enough power, enough money, and enough ego to bring everything down in a matter of minutes. This isn’t new, it’s been ignored. Whether it’s for our false sense of security, or because it’s distant enough that we allow ourselves to forget, we don’t pay attention to the facts. This ignorance isn’t just our own. It is also the responsibility of our leaders, who have chosen to wait until the 11th hour to decide this is serious enough to act upon. It’s the responsibility of everyone who watched Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping form an alliance and didn’t stop to think: maybe this could lead to bad things.
None of us should be surprised this is happening. Between Russian cyber attacks, and influence on the U.S. election of 2016, Putin has long ago established himself as a threatening force. Now, he has promised unprecedented consequences to any nation, or government who dares to intervene. While these may very well be empty threats, and we shouldn’t force ourselves to live in anxiety because of them, we should still take them seriously; perhaps even at face value. At this moment, Russia has the second most powerful military in the world. It is ten times that of the military that Ukraine has. Not to mention, Russia also has the support of China and Belarus. If this invasion goes in Putin’s favor, how do we know that he’ll stop? If anything, the sheer unpredictability of this conflict is daunting.
Forget the politics, forget the headlines. This isn’t just the news; this is a nation of 44 million people and their homeland has just been turned into a battleground. They’re using bombs. 40 people have died in just the first few hours of the invasion. These are all real people who are losing their lives, and in the Digital Age, we are more connected than we ever have been. Apathy is the most dangerous stance we can take right now. Minimizing the reality of this will only hurt us in the long run. This isn’t a call to action, and this isn’t about politics. It’s a plea for people to look inside of their heart. War has no winners. The only people whom it benefits are the ones sitting in the big chairs and making all the decisions. So, ask yourself: What is the cost of a human life? How many have to die before we truly care about what’s happening right now? The destruction doesn’t cease to exist simply because people have chosen to turn a blind eye to it.
Image credit: UP9, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons