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Posted: 2022-04-11 13:57:06 By: thebay

They say that those who don’t study history are bound to repeat it. Not being a history buff by any stretch of the imagination, I have nevertheless seen the same patterns of aggression in today’s wars as I have observed in other conflicts throughout the ages. I’m sure that governments all around the world have watched with concern as Russia and China built up their armies, allegedly, for their own defense against their enemies, but with that military might, there is always the threat that hypernationalism and a poor economy will light the wildfire of imperialism. That same pestilent ideology has recently reared its ugly head in the U.S., spinning the moral compass like a top. We all have our own internal sense of right and wrong, so why do we continue to do the wrong thing, over and over again?

The other day, I was chatting with a friend, and I asked him what was the most important thing we as a species need to change in order for our world to survive? He said that he used to think it was climate change, but that he has recently changed that priority to eradicating poverty and hunger. If people have no hope, then it’s going to be hard to persuade them to take better care of Mother Earth. How does one create hope when one is thinking only of oneself?

Of course, the images on the news are horrifying. For some of us, this is the first time we are seeing the atrocities of war approaching our borders. I for one have lived in my cocoon of complacency, living in a country where we enjoy the most freedom and prosperity experienced anywhere in the world. Why is the war in Ukraine any more atrocious than other wars? Clearly, Putin is a war criminal, but to put his disgusting actions in perspective, there have been many other abominations in the history of human conflict. Off the top of my head, I can name a few. During the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, as many as 800,000 innocent souls perished and millions more were rendered homeless. The tragedy of the Khmer Rouge and the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia by some accounts eradicated 25% of Cambodia’s population. Did we learn from those humanitarian disasters? No, perhaps because they did not directly affect us. We said “never again” after Hitler’s Nazis murdered 6 million innocent Jews and countless others in his quest for ethnic cleansing and world domination. Nevertheless, away from the public eye, away from the omnipresent cell phone videos, man’s propensity to be barbaric continues. Perhaps the human rights violations in Armenia, Myanmar, Bosnia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan did not seem as if they were as much of a threat to us here in North America because the atrocities did not occur at our doorsteps. But, now the barbarians are at the gates of our NATO allies.

Yes, what is happening in Ukraine is horrible, unthinkable, disgusting, abominable, barbaric, and incredible; but the history of mankind is full of atrocities. As for breaking the rules of engagement, certainly Russia has committed that crime. We live in a world where right and wrong have different definitions depending upon one's place on the planet. Common decency and respect for other cultures, religions, beliefs, and systems of government seems to be headed for extinction, so as a result, it is no surprise that we are once again threatened by another world war. In light of our differences, can we ever expect the same behavior of different peoples from one country to the next?

The problem is WWIII would likely involve nuclear weapons so the West is hesitant to call Putin's bluff. I hope the NATO alliance provides Ukraine with all the weapons they need to defend themselves against their aggressors and that global economic pressure will eventually douse Russia's imperialistic ambitions. Certainly, the brave people of Ukraine are aware of the sacrifices of war as are all veterans of war. To those of us living in the peaceful civilian narcosis of denial, perhaps this will be a wakeup call and we will accept the sacrifices that this conflict will necessitate. Frankly, I am concerned that selfishness and complacency are 2 of our enemies. Some of us protest mask mandates designed to mitigate the spread of a deadly virus, harass courageous and overworked healthcare workers as they enter their hospitals, and complain about the high cost of gas at the pumps. We all have those rights because we are blessed by living in a free country. I wonder, would we have the courage of our convictions if our family members were ruthlessly murdered, trying to live their lives in peace? Would we even come close to the courage, determination, and national pride illustrated by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and the Ukrainian people?


Written by Jamie Oppenheimer ©2022 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED