Two weeks ago Russia, an autocratic country with the world’s second strongest military, invaded a democratic country, Ukraine, who presented no threat to any other nation in the region. In so doing a Russian President condemned countless people, including the elderly and children, to their deaths. Rarely in the history of human conflict are we faced with such unequal moral justifications for war. Where we can so clearly assert that the defender is fighting a just war against tyranny. And the aggressor, an evil war upon the innocent.
I do not know what is in the Russian President’s heart and I cannot assess his soul by labelling him evil. That is a judgement reserved for only The Greatest Love. But his actions are available for all to see. His actions I can assess for myself and they are chilling. I fear he has yearnings for a bygone era when Moscow dominated its neighbors instead of sharing with them a common vision of peace, prosperity, and humanity.
Or is it that the Russian President feels threatened by his neighbors? Neighbors who can show that democracy after Soviet authoritarian rule is not only viable, but better equipped to serve the hopes, and dreams of its people. Neighbors who can show that the actions and leadership of the Russian President should be relegated to an abhorrent past.
Whatever the reasons it appears the Russian President has misunderstood that he is not just fighting a war against the military of the Ukrainian nation. But also a war against the aspirations of the Ukrainian people. Their aspirations for freedom. To not be subjugated to the yoke of authoritarianism. The people of Ukraine know what the Russian President is peddling. They lived through it before. And they firmly reject it now.
Standing in the Russian President’s way is a nation of professional, volunteer, and foreign fighters. Their courage against such an unprovoked and indiscriminate invasion is inspiring. My prayers are with them, and their leaders.
Caught in between are the citizens of Ukraine. Those who should have never known such death and destruction. Those who never should have been separated from their husbands, fathers, grandfathers, and brothers, but for the actions of an invading army. I pray that these families may be reunited within a nation made whole again. I pray that the children of Ukraine may be shielded from the worst of the inhumanity that has befallen them. And in the tortuous event that the aggressors take their innocent lives I pray that they may find comfort in the arms of The Greatest Love.
I believe The Greatest Love loves all Their children including the autocrats. But that does not mean They do not see the evil in their actions. The actions on which they will be judged. I pray for the soul of the Russian President. That he may find enlightenment in the heavens along with justice here on earth, without further bloodshed. The killing must end.
I believe The Greatest Love abhors war but recognizes that a nation’s people are sometimes forced into war, crying out to be defended. For this reason I do not pray for an unconditional peace: a one-sided peace dictated by the aggressor. Instead I pray for a just peace. A peace that the Ukrainian people can accept. A peace that returns to them their territory occupied by the aggressors, and maintains their hopes for a free and democratically governed nation.
I believe people must sometimes take up arms against aggression and fight against the boot of autocracy. Fight to maintain their land, institutions, and ideals, they have worked so hard to build up. Until that fight is complete I will pray that the Ukrainian forces can remain strong. And that the sanctions the world places on Russia can force that nation’s president, or at least her people, to rethink the path he has chosen to take.
There are some that would argue that the path towards peace lies solely with non-violent resistance. Such forms of resistance have borne great successes, from the Salt March in India led by Mohandas Gandhi, to the Civil Rights Marches in the American South led by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, and others. But when the oppressor/aggressor is willing to declare open warfare against entire populations regardless of their methods, the limits of such non-violent resistance can become apparent. As George Orwell pointed out in 1949: “It is difficult to see how Gandhi’s methods could be applied in a country where opponents of the regime disappear in the middle of the night and are never heard of again.”
A completely non-violent approach would require the Ukrainian people to surrender their liberties for some period of time. To relinquish their fledgling democracy and its associated rights and freedoms until their non-violent activities have had time to replace whatever puppet regime is installed by the Russian army. An overthrow that is far from certain, based on the past history of how the Soviets ruled their satellite states, and depends on how far the Russian President is willing to go to maintain his grip on power.
Is this the path The Greatest Love expects an invaded people to take? To surrender their rights and freedoms to a marauding army until such time as that army is willing, or forced, to return those liberties back to them? Are such principles ever meant to be indefinitely abandoned or quashed? Is this a reasonable price to pay for peace? In an earlier post I said it was the emergence of secular charters and constitutions instilling love into law that had the greatest impact in bringing about our sacred love. Some of the rights and freedoms declared in those texts, I believe, revealed divine truths that The Greatest Love had bestowed on humanity. Truths that were not dictated from the heavens or delivered by a prophet/Messiah, but which were meant to be discovered by humanity’s own moral progress throughout the centuries. And when those truths were embraced by humanity and entrenched into the highest laws of our lands, our love was elevated and became sacred.
What would The Greatest Love then say about giving up such truths in the face of an invading menace? I believe They would say that love is more important than life itself and it must stand up against evil. Love must stand up and take action to prevent its loss from this world. Some of the rights and freedoms Ukrainians enjoy today constitute these divine truths, a universal love, that must not be sacrificed on the altar of peace at any cost. Instead these truths are worth fighting, dying, and even killing for.
Yes The Greatest Love abhors war and the loss of human life it entails; the pain and suffering of the innocent. But there is something far worse than such devastation: the loss of love a subjugated nation may endure when evil is set upon them.