GOD HIMSELF IS A CITIZEN OF KYIV
For today and likely many days to come, Ukraine has become honorary Pain-2-Power world headquarters and a global classroom on how to find strength and dignity amidst extreme adversity. For anyone who has had to fight a bigger kid, struggle for light under the towering shadows of depression or fight despite the seductive Sirens of fear, Ukraine will feel like familiar ground to you. For anyone who has yet to confront such adversity, Ukraine will fortify you with lessons for the future, if you listen to her and watch her and are willing to learn from her.
Ukraine, of course, has been invaded by Russia, a country whose columns of tanks, missiles, naval destroyers and bombers should not only have paralyzed her roads and bridges and communications and banking systems, but also drained her of pride and determination and the ability to resist surrender. After all, when armored vehicles take over your highways and explosions light the sky up with fire and leave buildings as heaps of rubble, the desire for self-preservation can eclipse one’s deepest sense of self.
Not so in Ukraine. And that is why, regardless of the geopolitical factors that resulted in Russia invading Ukraine, regardless of whether wisdom argues against rash decisions that could spark a World War, the people of Ukraine are not different than the patriots who defended America from England during the Revolutionary War or those who have defended Israel from destruction by its neighbors, again and again and again. That is why the people of Ukraine are no different than families all over the world who rise up to fight in the face of poverty or illness or hunger or neglect or loss or authoritarian governments (including, at this moment in history, our own). That is why the people of Ukraine are already providing every one of us with stories that can help us stay strong, no matter what we have to confront in our own lives. And for all these reasons, that is why every one of us is, today, a citizen of Kyiv.
One need look no further than the Ukranian border guards on Snake Island, twelve miles out in the Black Sea. A Russian invader radioed them, “This is Russian military warship. I suggest you lay down your weapons and surrender to avoid bloodshed and needless casualties. Otherwise, you will be bombed.” To which a border guard, after consulting with another guard radioed back, “Russian Warship, go fuck yourselves!” All 13 guards were killed. But here I am writing about them, and you reading about them, more than 5,000 miles away. So, who really won? The Ukranian border guards did. No contest.
Or how about the elderly Ukrainian woman who was videotaped walking up to Russian soldiers in uniform, armed with guns, and engaging them in this conversation?
Woman: Who are you?
Soldier: We have exercises here. Please go this way.
Woman: What kind of exercises? Are you Russian?
Woman: So, what the fuck are you doing here?
Soldier: Right now, our discussion will lead to nothing.
Woman: You’re occupants. You’re fascists! What the fuck are you doing on our land with all these guns? Take these seeds and put them in your pockets so at least sunflowers will grow when you all lie down here [dead].
How wrong could that Russian soldier have been? Here we are, 5,000 miles away, with me writing about that discussion that he was so sure would lead to nothing. Here you are, reading about it.
By the way, sunflowers are the national flower of Ukraine. And, now, Ukraine has become honorary world headquarters of Pain-2-Power.com and a global classroom on self-esteem, national pride, chutzpah, nerve and how to miraculously turn darkness into light, and despair into hope for all mankind. This is alchemy for the human soul, for all of us to watch.
If I were Vladimir Putin right now, I would wonder whether I want blood on my hands from a man like Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Jewish President of Ukraine, who remains in Kyiv at this very moment, utterly defiant, despite likely being targeted for death. Because that would mean that Putin, forever more, would be the living symbol of how a dead man can turn out to be more powerful than an entire Russian army. Just watch. Just wait. And learn everything you can.
Miracles are about to unfold in Ukraine. You see, God, Himself, is a citizen of Kyiv.
Dr. Keith Ablow