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Don't Lose Your Humanity...Ever

Updated: Apr 4

A week ago, I saw two stories about hope on the same page of the newspaper. {Boston Globe, 4/23/22} Both took place in Ukraine. The first told about an orthodox church in a village named Lukashivka. The church “survived World War II and the most austere years of the Soviet Union…when authorities stripped it of its religious icons.” But it was not open for Easter this year because one of the golden domes has blown off and the bells have fallen to the ground which is strewn with casings and cans of Russian tinned meat.

But these Ukrainian villagers are fighters. One woman in her 60’s spoke to the Russian soldiers when the town was occupied recently. She told them she had lived her whole life in the village and now every home was destroyed. “You will stay in this land as fertilizer. If you want to kill me, kill me.” She said they looked ashamed. But she also said she has not lost hope. Her daughter gave birth in a basement and now they have a one-month-old baby who they named Victoria.

Second Story. A local veteran who could not watch the news from Ukraine and sit still. Having fought in Afghanistan he found a site on social media for vets who want to volunteer to train Ukrainian civilians. He took a leave from his job and joined a Brit who served 5 tours in the Royal Air Force in Iraq and Afghanistan to train several hundred Ukrainian civilians. Hundreds of people with stable livelihoods and families they love at home and no connection to Ukraine have dropped everything to travel there and lend their expertise.

Why? One veteran said he wanted to atone for things that happened in other wars. Another said it just seems like a cleaner cause, an innocent nation and obvious aggressor. Plus these veterans can see that they are making a difference. They are working with university students and financial planners and real estate brokers to who have never used military weapons before.

Once they complete a three-week training course these vets don’t have to stay, but they do. Something about this experience and the strength of the Ukrainian people has inspired them. There’s a quality of indomitable courage in Ukraine that keeps these volunteers engaged, because that kind of courage is life-giving. Putin and all his bullies are slaves to despair. They never expect people to have hope like this.

Ironically, what makes the Ukrainians so resolved is the fact they have not lost their humanity. The woman at the church in the first story would not be intimidated by the Russians. She also never gave up on them. She talked to them like fellow human beings and held them accountable. In the process she pricked their consciences and they responded humanly; they were ashamed. People like Putin only win when we lose our humanity in the face of their despair.

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Karen Lauterwasser
Karen Lauterwasser
May 02, 2022

This brings to mind the Christmas Eve truce of WWI that John McCutcheon wrote about in his song. Some serious humanity preserved for at least that one night.

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