Dear Ukrainians, we all owe you a big apology… We have forgotten about you and gone back to the comforts of our everyday lives. Zelensky? Crimea? Odessa? Kyiv? These names and places were all “hot topics” for us for 2-3 months, but then we got used to the idea that “there is a war in Ukraine… What can we do?”
The war in Ukraine started in February of this year. It had our undivided attention throughout March, April and May. We were living it. News channels showed us the horrors of cities being destroyed and the lives of innocent Ukrainian people ruined. Burned-out buildings; horror stories of women being raped and property looted; a tide of refugees fleeing for their lives; good people in Poland, Romania and Hungary taking families into their homes. A war “at its best”. It had us hooked. This war had everything it needed to be newsworthy. “The good, the bad and the ugly”. “Just like a good war should be”. Social media was full of war-related traffic – offers of help, new volunteering organisations, a collective outpouring of sympathy and support for the victims.
But then came the summer and with it the sense of a post-Covid need for freedom.
Long queues at the airports; cars full of families crossing borders on the way to beach-holidays; restaurants and hotels back to full capacity. Two years of lockdowns and we all needed light and air.
The war brought in its wake new economic worries. The cost of fuel and energy is sky-rocketing. Food too is becoming more expensive, and governments are desperately trying to cope with inflation, and rising taxes and interest rates. With rising food prices, the threat of energy poverty and simply managing our day-to-day lives all now clamouring for our attention, the war has somehow become “yesterday’s news”
Putin might well have expected the initial reaction of the West to be one of total shock and anger. But not for long. We get used to bad news; new pictures every day on TV and across the media showing the latest horrors from Ukraine have become commonplace; we have perhaps even become somewhat indifferent to them. “Not as alarming and as interesting as it was in March”. Zelensky’s daily speeches repeat the same messages; we have just got used to it all. Moreover, I have met some individuals who support Russia, advocating Putin’s right to demand Russia’s western border be free of any NATO and EU presence. I was astonished to realise someone could believe this could justify such a brutal attack on an innocent and peaceful society as that of Ukraine.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine will leave its indelible mark on all of us. Russia has removed its name from the list of countries that serve as a pillar in maintaining a peaceful world order, ensuring responsible leadership and caring for the wealth, health and welfare of their own society. Russia has resumed its place on the “black-list” of nations that allow themselves to commit crimes against humanity. As we can see, the passage of time does not erase a nation’s presence from this list, nor the criminal acts they perpetrate. Russia has now secured for itself a neighbour filled with hatred and a growing, everlasting hunger to exact revenge.
It is our obligation to keep the ongoing war in Ukraine on the agenda. We must not lose sight of the fact that over the centuries our countries and nations have been targeted by all kinds of “Putins” who have left the pages of our history full of pain and horror.
It is the obligation of each and every one of us, as individuals, to raise our voices against such outrages. We cannot permit ourselves to go back to any kind of normality while cities in our neighbouring lands are burning. We must educate our children to seek peace, to avoid racism and to defuse conflicts.
The circumstances of the war in Ukraine could provide a platform to show how poor and shallow political justifications are given for inflicting evil on people.
Today is Independence Day in Ukraine. I would like to dedicate this article to the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, and express my deep appreciation for his outstanding leadership and for standing up to the Russians with their cruelty and arrogance.
Long live free Ukraine!!!
Your long and free existence is a safeguard for us all.
Zahal Levy, President of MediHelp International: