With the melodrama playing out in Ukraine, the sad devastation of the country, its critical infrastructure and the miserable suffering of its people, together with all the mess that is our World at this present time, I needed to find something that would distract me, and so I landed on our local PBS Station airing the life of the great Edith Piaf interspersed with her (an eerily similar impersonator) amazing voice. It was a beautiful program during which I teared up listening to all those incredible songs, amongst which was one of my favorites, La Vie En Rose. The songs, as well as the trees in the forest behind our house coming to life and budding their blooms above ground after a fall and winter in which they had been diligently toiling and preparing underground, herald that Spring is right around the corner!
After the Virus first hit us about two years ago and just as we thought that we were beginning to have it under control, the Variant hit us and sent us scurrying back behind our masks and inside our homes, and, just as soon as we thought that we had that one under control and were beginning to look forward to resuming our pre-Virus lives again, we got hit with yet another tragic War that dampened our spirits once again! No rest for the weary, and for the usual anticipation of Spring Rituals such as planting our little pots and gardens; putting away gloves, hats and coats; bringing out our lighter garments; planning for all the Holidays that take place during this season; deciding on our summer vacation destination and all those other seasonal Rituals that we all look forward to! Rather, we find that we are on edge again wondering whether the nukes will be flying soon as Political Leadership reverts to its endemic and Ritual machoism, war-mongering and saber-rattling! Wouldn’t daring Peace, with all the bitter compromises that it demands, have been a better and doable option? Undoubtedly!! Undoubtedly!!
The most daunting aspect, and the one that keeps repeating itself, is that so many of us – my generation especially – have been through this agony time and time again! It is the same in every damn war with innocent human beings who had nothing to do with the decision to go to war in the first place, and may have even protested it, paying the biggest price, while those that ordered it were safe in their bunkers! It is unfair and unjust! Whether it was WWI, WWII, Vietnam, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Palestine, Libya, Rwanda, Ukraine and on and on and on we have seen almost exactly the same images: dead bodies in the streets, shelled and blasted buildings, mothers running away with their children, elderly people hobbling themselves to safety, shelters full of people cowering in fear, schools and hospitals attacked, doctors and nurses struggling to take care of the injured, humans out to buy food being blown away, mass graves, pregnant women giving birth in the most unsanitary and frightful conditions, despairing and traumatized, shell-shocked human beings! The same damn images in every single war that has ever taken place except that the lethal weapons evolve and become more deadly; forbidden weaponry being used again and again and again as if the decision to ban them was meaningless; propaganda, lies, deceit, demonizing the enemy and manufacturing consent being part of every war – No Exceptions; world forums, UN Resolutions, sanctions, threats and protests failing every single time to stop a war! When will that slogan: War Is Not The Answer ever resonate enough with inept world leaders – none exempt! – who need a crash course in Diplomacy and Peace-making before they ever run for office???!!!
As the World around us has been sent spinning into this dangerous Free Fall, many of us living away from war zones revert to our usual mundane Rituals so as to create a purpose for which to get out of bed each morning and try and avert sinking into depression! Such Rituals have been an integral part of the daily lives of the millions of worldwide refugees living in the most dismal camps where, as examples, the women get together every morning to sip coffee or tea and update each other of the latest happenings around the camp: venting their frustrations; complaining and commiserating; who had a baby; who was sick; who was raped, beaten or wet their pants; who needed help; where to pay condolences for another dead body; who was getting married and so on. The men, too, get together over a hot drink and play backgammon, or a game of cards as they exchange what news they have heard of. Meanwhile, the kids play soccer, hop scotch, tag or other games. These little Rituals have sustained refugees, and maintained much of their sanity during the deprecating circumstances of wars. They will do so for the people of Ukraine also, because human beings whether they have blue eyes or brown, straight hair or kinky, are tall or short, speak English or only know their own language, dine on a table or on the floor, live in an apartment or a hut will, at the end of the day, feel the same despondency, terror and sadness of any war as they pay the biggest price for it! Eventually, eventually this war we are all witnessing will also come to an end. Meanwhile, I find myself with every new war feeling more distracted, listless and crestfallen. This feeling of utter helplessness to do anything meaningful takes me back to so many upheavals and wars that I, and millions of others, have been through. It does not get easier. Not ever! One cannot be nonchalant about events that threaten our humanity and insult our civility whether they occur in Ukraine, or anywhere else! Perhaps I can only hope that the World will be La Vie En Rose one day for all of Humanity! Unfortunately, this does not seem to be around the corner like Spring in Virginia. Let us just hope that it will not carry on until next Spring!