By James Woodward
The situation in Ukraine makes us feel so helpless. What can we do? Add this to our weariness and anxiety about the pandemic, climate change and the economy and we are left wondering what the future looks like for us and future generations.
These images of warfare haunt us: damaged buildings; families struck dead as they attempt to flee for safety; explosions from ground and air. The wall to wall coverage deepens the sense of threat and helplessness.
Although Ukraine is a fair distance away, the conflict will affect us over the next few years, even if warfare is contained in the region. We are interconnected through the international markets for goods from energy to arables. The United Nations estimates there could be 4 million refugees, maybe more.
The respite of our existential angst between covid and this war was all too brief so how do live in a world which feels under imminent threat?
First, we might remind ourselves of the values that have an eternal quality: truth, freedom, justice, compassion, human dignity, respect, faith, hope and love. These need to be held and nurtured in us and our communities. We should name the truth of the ultimate weakness of the display of aggression.
Second, what can we do to help? How do we put words into action ? The burdens of all this mayhem should not be borne only by those who are weakest and already battered by the economic crisis. We all want to help tangibly. The best and most effective help we can provide is by donating to the Disasters Emergency Committee and writing to your MP about visa flexibility for refugees.
Third, we can pray. We can nurture hope in our prayers. Love and hope is sustained by the divine presence. Hope means believing in spite of the evidence and then waiting and working for the evidence to change. This includes listening for and encouraging the voices of hope in our midst. This includes a change of heart for all those who perpetrate violence.
Fourth, we can learn to be a non-anxious and hopeful presence in this troubled world because we know that our unswerving commitment to truth and justice have an eternal quality that evil acts like brutal invasions and indiscriminate bombings will never have!
Fifth, we must keep ourselves informed about what develops but avoid relentless exposure to those traumatic images that have etched themselves onto our hearts.
Finally a prayer for you to share:
A Prayer for Peace
O God, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed: Give unto thy servants that peace which the world cannot give; that both our hearts may be set to obey thy commandments, and also that by thee we being defended from the fear of our enemies may pass our time in rest and quietness; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Saviour.
A version of this piece appears in the 24 March 2022 Footnotes column of the Salisbury Journal.