The terrible devastation in Ukraine disturbs me at a very deep level. It closely resembles the launch of World War II when Hitler invaded Poland. That war is personal for me; it traumatized and damaged both my parents and as a consequence, created untold disturbance in my family.
My mother’s French lover was killed six weeks into the war. Later, she was bombed and buried under rubble in the London Blitz. The resulting brain damage caused chronic pain and a distortion of her personality. Basically she became unfit to be a mother.
My father was an RAF bomber pilot who destroyed cities across Germany. All his close RAF friends were killed. In Dresden he acted as a Pathfinder (first in, last out) and witnessed the raging firestorm that seared and suffocated thousands of innocent civilians. He knew it was wrong and it scarred his soul.
On screen, we see pictures of wreckage and ruin, bodies battered and broken. What we do not see is war-trauma slithering through the generations, strangling lives and devouring children yet to be born. War is an eruption of the dark inhuman shadow; it seeks to snuff out the light that illuminates our lives.
In the face of so much evil, it is too easy to get obsessed or turn our heads and look away. It is hard to stay attentive, open and compassionate. When inhumanity stalks the world, when a soulless demagogue wields his bloody weapons, our task is to cherish the inner radiance of true humanity.
Individually, we cannot stop the war in Ukraine, but we can meditate, pray, practice love and act with integrity and generosity. In the blackest night, hold the flame up high.
To pray, perchance to dream,
Longing for a kinder world
In which the man, caressed by care,
Lays down the heavy iron gun
And takes up arms to hold and hug.