(Almost) All together now

From Reuters: “People hold flares with the colors of the Ukrainian flag as Ukrainians and supporters hold an anti-war protest outside the Russian Embassy in Mexico City, February 28. REUTERS/Luis Cortes.”

None of us knows where this will end. Or how. Or when. So we do what we can to make each moment matter, every day. That’s our job anyway, even without this illegal, immoral invasion of a sovereign nation.

There have been plenty of hints, and the build-up was no secret. Once Russia invaded, though, a remarkable thing happened: NATO countries quickly formed a unified block, with other nations joining in, to condemn Putin’s aggression and take non-military steps to try to counter it. This is the most unified that NATO has been since its beginnings in the aftermath of World War II. It’s a glimmer of hope that democracy might just pull itself together to fight off the authoritarian trend the world has been experiencing.

You’ve seen the news and the photographs, and I’m not here to write about the war. I’m here to share with you a couple of stories that touched my heart, and a sampling of photographs that show how the world feels about this act of Russian aggression. It’s interesting to see Putin being compared to both Hitler and Maduro.

Of all the photographs I’ve seen over the past 12 days, the photo above by Luis Cortes is my favorite. He captured the moment beautifully, a protest halfway around the globe from the conflict. Scroll down to see a few more photographs.

From the New York Times: “People trying to escape from Irpin, a city near Kyiv, sheltered under a destroyed bridge. Photograph by Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press.” There are many photos showing the heart-wrenching and inhumane destruction that the Russian military is inflicting on Ukraine. I included this image because it tells a profound story of of the displacement being suffered by millions.
Tokyo, Japan, from The Guardian: “People in the Japanese capital rally against Russia’s aggression. Photograph: Kimimasa Mayama/EPA.”
Vilnius, Lithuania, from The Guardian: “A hot-air balloon decorated with a Ukrainian national flag floats in the air over Vilnius during a protest against the Russian invasion.
Photograph: Mindaugas Kulbis/AP.”
From Reuters: “Demonstrators hold placards during an anti-war protest following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Caracas, Venezuela March 4, 2022. The writing on the signs read “Putin = Maduro. Justice first” and “Venezuela stands with Ukraine.” REUTERS/Leonardo Fernandez Viloria.”
From Reuters: “Demonstrators hold signs and Ukrainian flags during an anti-war protest march in Podgorica, Montenegro, February 27. REUTERS/Stevo Vasiljevic.
Gdańsk, Poland, from Reuters: “A Yellow dove with olive branch shaped as the Tryzub, the coat of arms of Ukraine by the artist Jakub Sobczak.
Photograph: Michał Fludra/NurPhoto/REX/Shutterstock”

As of this writing, over two million people have fled Ukraine, a refugee crisis of catastrophic proportions. Poland was the first nation to step up; it has now set up a fund of about $1.75 billion to cope with the situation. By Tuesday, March 8, nearly 1.3 million Ukrainians had arrived in Poland.

Other nations near Ukraine are also taking in large numbers of refugees, including Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Moldova, a poor country that fears it will have its own Russian invasion, has received about 83,000 refugees. More European countries are welcoming Ukrainians as well, including Germany, France and Ireland. Russia has received 99,000 refugees. The U.K. has granted 300 visas to Ukrainians.

Le Petit Bizois is a monthly source of local information. The front of the March issue has a call for donations destined for Ukraine.

Driving around our region over the past week, I’ve seen a lot of signs posted by mayors’ offices and other organizations, asking people to contribute either goods or money to aid the refugees. Here in our village, it was an enormous effort; when I stopped by to drop off a couple of checks, the space was piled high with boxes containing winter clothing, medical supplies, and personal hygiene products.

Bize residents have opened their doors to refugees, too, with several households re-organizing quickly to accommodate the newcomers. This morning I had a conversation with my friend Maryse about how our village can help these people feel welcome: shared meals and activities, events that can include children, offering rides and help with navigating life in France. It occurred to both of us at the same time that I might be able to help with language, because we were guessing that our new arrivals might be more likely to speak English than French. We’ll soon find out.

Further afield, I’ve just read about something that took place a few days ago in my hometown of Reno, Nevada. The Reno Philmarmonic Orchestra had a performance this past Sunday, and they took a break in the program to perform the Ukrainian national anthem, with the stage curtain lit up to resemble the Ukrainian flag. My friend Karen Stout-Gardner and her cello were part of that performance. The audience stood for the entire anthem, and many cried. You can watch it here:
Ukrainian national anthem

A note about Vlad the Invader
In the English-speaking world, Putin’s name is pronounced POO-tin. Here in France, people say poo-TEEN. This is easy enough to get used to, but it’s rather unfortunate for the people of Québec, the French-speaking region of Canada. They have a beloved dish made of fries, cheese curds and brown gravy, which is called poutine, and pronounced poo-TEEN. You can see that there might be some confusion.

In both France and Canada, restaurants that serve poutine are at the receiving end of verbal abuse and threats by people who think the dish was named after the Russian president. In fact, poutine was invented in the 1950s, and the restaurant that claims to have been its inventor has now decided on a temporary re-naming in order to distance itself from the invasion of Ukraine. I have a vague recollection of Freedom Fries…

One person had this to say on Twitter: “People, please stop confusing Putin and poutine. One is a dangerous and unwholesome mix of greasy, lumpy and congealed ingredients, the other is a delicious food.”

Meanwhile, a note about Volodymyr Zelenskyy
On March 8, Zelenskyy became the first foreign leader to address the United Kingdom’s House of Commons. It was done via computer, transmitted from his desk somewhere in Kyiv to a packed house in the center of London. At the end of his speech, he raised his fist and walked away to the sound of a standing ovation.

Maybe some day, the name Zelenskyy will be enjoying a long life as a word meaning “more heroic than anyone thought possible.”

There is always hope for the future.
From Today News Post: “Ukrainian citizens and anti-war demonstrators gathered on Beyazit Square in Istanbul to protest against Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Hakan Akgun/SOPA Images


6 thoughts on “(Almost) All together now”

  1. Thanks for the perspective from near ground. It’s frustrating in North America; other than donations and prayers, it’s hard to just watch and wait. Stay safe.

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    1. Thank you! We’re doing our best to carry on living our lives, doing normal things, caring for others as we can. Many prayers offered to the universe.

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  2. OMG Lyn, You are such an amazing writer! I don’t get your posts regularly, but love to read them when I do. Just read an article about you on Smart News! How wonderful that you are building a house–you have found a home! Thank you for sharing your insights in such a beautiful, meaningful way. Barbara

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    1. You’re a sweetie, Barbara; thank you for your generous compliment.
      You are on my mailing list, and I send something out around once a month to alert my readers that there’s a new post. You can also scroll down to read past posts; they’re all there. Or use the search bar to search by topic, like “history” or “food and wine.” Hope all’s swell with you!

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  3. I am just happy the previous administration was not able to disband NATO . Think how this would have destroyed Europe ?

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