My older son has been serving in the US military for about 7 years. As soon as the Ukraine War broke out three weeks ago, he was deployed to a NATO country in Europe. Moments before he boarded the military plane, I said to him: “ My son, thank you for your service.” He was a little surprised to hear this from me, and I said: “In your own small ways, you are defending democracy, freedom, and our way of life.”
I don’t know about you, but for me, after watching on TV the heart-breaking human suffering and devastation in Ukraine, I started to view my daily routines with a new appreciation. I realized that what I took for granted could be taken away, like what happened overnight to the suffering Ukranians. What was a mundane daily routine three weeks ago now seems like privilege, – things like taking a walk and watching people walking their dogs or pushing strollers, even doing dishes in my kitchen that was not torn apart or bombed to rubbles, and sleeping in my own warm bed instead of the cold floor in a bunker…
Seeing the heroic Ukrainians who would rather die to keep their freedom and their fledgling democracy, this war has awakened our consciousness about the evil of authoritarianism.
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More than two thousand years ago, in the middle of a bloody slaughter on a battlefield, there was a total solar eclipse that momentarily prevented warriors from seeing and hacking each other while day suddenly turned into night.
Believing that God was intervening, the warring armies laid down their arms and declared a truce on May 28, 585 BC, in Asia Minor.
Before the Ukraine War, the media was mostly talking about our Republican and Democrat endless grandstanding, bickering, finger pointing…
Like the solar eclipse that stopped the battle, the pre-war heated political debates and disagreements portrayed on TV hardly made it into news after the war. The Ukraine War has eclipsed the American partisanship rancor, at least for now.
Americans came to a rude awakening about how precious our democracy is, as we watch atrocities and devastation unfolding in Ukraine, resulting from Putin’s dictatorship where power is unopposed, unhinged, and without any checks and balances.
“Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The horror of Russia’s onslaught on Ukraine has shocked and jolted Americans of all walks of life and all different political affiliations, as well as people all over the world.
Not only are Democrats and Republicans coming together to support Ukraine, but the entire world’s democratic countries are united in sanctioning Russian aggression. For so many Ukrainians, after their homes, careers, and peaceful life were suddenly robbed by the war, what they are fighting for are their dignity, values, and beliefs. Their will to fight until death for their freedom, democracy, and sovereignty has inspired and touched most of us in the world.
Even though our democracy is imperfect, and not immune to making mistakes such as the US wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Vietnam, and even though our democracy can be frustrating and at times gridlocked, the Ukraine War has made it clear that democracy and freedom are what humanity prefers over dictatorship and authoritarianism.
As we witness the tragic loss of lives, smoldering rubble, destroyed cities, and millions of refugees, nothing is more agonizing than the feeling that one can do nothing, other than watching peaceful and innocent people suffer, while evil and violence is being brutally perpetrated.
Like many of you, I want to do whatever is within my power to help Ukraine. Doing something, anything helps ease my own feelings of helplessness and agony, and puts my conscience at peace. So I have donated a sizable amount of money to NovaUkraine.org.
Some day in the future, I hope that I can tell my grandchildren when they arrive in this fragile world that I did SOMETHING, more than just sitting on my hands, and watching.
We cannot take our democracy for granted. If you don’t have the financial resources to donate any amount, each and every one of us can at least do this: improve our OWN democracy, restore America as the beacon of hope and light, and strive for a more perfect union. By exercising and participating constructively in our democracy, by being good citizens, and by building a stronger American democracy, we are sending hopeful messages to the world that those who gave their lives for freedom and democracy did not make the ultimate sacrifice in vain.
This is not merely a Russia-Ukraine War, it is a war declared on the fundamental values the free world holds near and dear to our hearts: freedom, democracy, sovereignty. It is good vs evil. We have no choice but to defeat Putin’s war.
It is a stress test of democracy under the brutal attack from authoritarianism.
Russia’s invasion into Ukraine is a watershed moment that reveals our courage and resolve to defend our values and beliefs. It reveals our individual characters, as well as that of a nation.
It is also testing leaders of the free world their cool-headedness under pressure, to de-escalate, rather than act on emotional impulses that will spiral into a nuclear war. I appreciate President Biden’s restraint from escalating the Ukraine War into World War III. I do want to see my son returning home from his deployment, standing.
As a brand builder and marketer, I gave my agency 10 Plus Brand, Inc. this slogan (or tagline): “Stand for Something”.
The crisis moments in the Russia Ukraine War provided great examples of heroic individuals and nations that truly stand for something:
President Volodymyr Zelensky refused to surrender to Russia’s bullying and violent aggression. His answer to the offer for leaving Kyiv was “I need ammunition, not a ride.” He inspired Ukraine and the world with his courageous words and deeds, videos, and speeches.
Facing evil disproportionately larger in size and might, the 44-year-old former comedian rose to the occasion as a true hero, as the David vs. Goliath. Zelensky quoted Shakespeare’s Hamlet: “ to be, or not to be, it is obvious it is ‘to be’ – it is to be free.” He also quoted Winston Churchill: “We will not surrender, we will not lose, we will go to the end.” “We will fight at sea, we will fight in the air, we will protect our land.” “We will fight everywhere… and we will not surrender.”
Ukraine: “My face, not my back” defiance by the Ukrainian people towards an aggressor many times larger and more powerful has earned great respect and admiration from humanity.
EU: EU has lived up to the moment, even the neutral country Switzerland–all united in supporting Ukraine with crushing sanctions imposed by NATO countries.
US: I hope the political truce after the “Ukraine eclipse” will continue, and the unity will continue among all Americans and political parties, not only to help Ukraine defeat Putin’s invasion, but more importantly, to help us introspectively, in safeguarding and improving our democracy, and striving for a more perfect union.
I pray for an intervening force that will peacefully stop Putin’s war crime, and for peace in Ukraine.
With my great admiration for Ukrainians who are fighting for their liberty, and my deep gratitude and appreciation for those who put their lives in harm’s way to protect our freedom and democracy, I ask you, again, to donate whatever amount you have to NOVAUkraine.org, or other reliable channels, and relentlessly build America into a stronger, freer, more democratic beacon on the hill.
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Witten by © Joanne Z. Tan, March 13, 2022
Edited by Susan Olson