War is a daily challenge for those experiencing it, there is also a challenge for those of us outside of it
We met on Zoom as we do every Friday at 9 pm UK time for a Quaker Meeting for Worship. Amongst the 27 there was a friend in Ukraine. Each week for the last month Ukraine has been on our minds. Andriy (not his real name) has been with us most of those weeks. He and his young family left Kyiv a few weeks ago for refuge in Western Ukraine with few belongings.
While Covid may have gotten many of us on Zoom now we experience a connection that transcends Covid. He tells us he values the silence that the meetings observe. This is a new experience in that we can hold a meeting with multiple nationalities including those in a country at war.
I recall last year when he first appeared he was simply ‘from Ukraine’, a year later ‘from Ukraine’ means a whole lot more.
I like many have had thoughts prompted by the war in Ukraine. It wasn’t until Thursday that I read the below article by Oliver Robertson.
Faithfully maintaining our testimony against war
Friends, let us hold in the Light the people of Ukraine. Let us hold in the Light the people of Russia. Let us hold in…
I had felt an internal challenge as to whether I was more interested in the war in Ukraine than any other conflict. I knew of Syria, Yemen, yet I hadn’t shown the same interest.
I googled and Wikipedia gave me a list of current ongoing conflicts.
List of ongoing armed conflicts - Wikipedia
This list of ongoing armed conflicts identifies present-day conflicts and the death toll associated with each conflict…
It shows that last year according to one source more than 40,000 people were killed in Afghanistan, in Myanmar possibly up to 11,000, in Yemen more than 31,000, in the Tigray more than 19, 000.
Robertson's opening paragraph recognised this,
Friends, let us hold in the Light the people of Ukraine. Let us hold in the Light the people of Russia. Let us hold in the Light the people of Afghanistan. Let us hold in the Light the people of Ethiopia. Let us hold in the Light the people of Myanmar. Let us hold in the Light those affected by conflicts we have forgotten or have never even heard of, because the consequences of war will scar lives just as they are doing in Kyiv. Let us hold in the Light the people working for peace. Let us hold in the Light the people who are not.
As I read Robertson’s words I felt he had read my mind and if mine many others, the following sentence reflected my own experience.
Pay attention to the news you notice and the events that move you, as it can be a window into your priorities and your prejudices.
I was also aware that racism had shown its face as reports were circulating that Black people in Ukraine and its borders were experiencing it. Again Robertson had also picked up on this,
When I think of people being shunned, I think of those people fleeing Ukraine who are not white. People of colour in Ukraine, students from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, have been reported to have been hampered or attacked as they tried to flee, denied support and accommodation in Ukraine and neighbouring countries because they are not Ukrainian. How can we support them, and in so doing uphold the notion that all refugees should be treated equally?
War is a daily challenge for those experiencing it for those of us outside of it there is a different challenge, how we do respond to it?
The full Oliver Robertson article can be heard on the video below