I was going to write about something else, but here the world is today facing a dangerous time with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. I am beyond being able to know how it feels for the people in the region, but I know I share a feeling with millions of others of just being sick of war. I was touched to read fellow war tax resister Geov Parrish’s thoughts today on Facebook*:
Back in 1988, just before the sudden breakup of the Soviet Union, I was fortunate to be part of the American delegation to a peace conference that spent the first week in Moscow. We then took a train to Kyiv and spent two weeks in Ukraine — a few days in Kyiv (which is beautiful – I toured a 1000-year-old Eastern Orthodox cathedral there) and then a cruise down the Dnieper River that divides Ukraine, to the Black Sea and on to Odessa, which is also beautiful. I remember slipping away and saw the barren shelves of an Odessa supermarket, which told the story of the USSR’s tenuous economy that our hosts weren’t telling us as they plied us with vodka…
Change was in the air. Where possible, in Moscow, Kiev, Zaporizhye and Odessa, I slipped off and met with underground draft resisters. They were uniformly hopeful for the future. A man I met in Zaporizhye took me to his home, in the 10th floor of a butt-ugly, Soviet-built concrete apartment tower. After the trip, I was penpals with him for a while, as well as with a group of conference attendees from all sorts of countries who were fellow music aficionados. We bonded at 4 AM one night, slipping past Moscow hotel security guards with pillows to head to a nearly birch forest in the dim, summer solstice light to share songs.
My heart is breaking for all the Ukrainians I met from that trip, and the historic, densely populated cities of Ukraine. I hope they’re safe.
There is so much beauty and wonder in the world, and we see all around us that humans are so much smarter than this.
There are experts to listen to and read for perspectives on this war. Follow Democracy Now!’s coverage. As I write, Amy Goodman just read a tweet about antiwar protests in Russia. Arrests were immediate but all honor and kudos to those activists. Once again the fact that the world has not abolished nuclear weapons brings added danger. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) has a statement on their website (a topic that reminds me of a Nobel Peace Prize winning president’s empty words — but a chance to reinvigorate work on the UN treaty to ban nuclear weapons).
War Resisters’ International has a statement on their website and keeps contact with peace groups in the region, including the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement. I hope they post a link to an online forum they held recently on the current crisis (mentioned in this post).
With its arms sales to and military bases in countries bordering Russia, the U.S. government is not an innocent party in this conflict. I think back to our NWTRCC meeting in Chicago in May 2012 when we joined thousands for a “No to NATO” march and rally. We were right then. We’re right now. Stop funding war. Stop the arms trade. Disband all military networks, especially NATO. Use our resources to confront the real issues we face: hunger, poverty, climate change, jobs, health care.
It’s hard to know what we can do to stop Putin and this invasion, but the least we can do is demand the United States immediately stop the saber-rattling, which only exacerbates the conflict. Which makes today an excellent day to add your name to NWTRCC’s Refuse to Pay for War public sign on statement.
— Post by Ruth Benn