It was in the year of our lord 988 when Christian Emperor Basil II reached out to the pagans over in the land of the Kievan Rus for help in putting down a potential uprising in his cherished city of Byzantium. All Baz had to promise was to give away his sister in marriage to Vladimir of Rus.
Vlad of Rus was delighted. What a deal! All this Slavic pagan had to do was convert to Christianity, get married and help the enemy. So Vlad, who had his pagan palace in Kyiv, summoned his fellow Rusians to the banks of the river Dnieper for a mass baptism.
During this time, Russian Orthodox Christianity was born and from there spread out to create a fervent brew of nationalism and spirituality (in the 13th century Vladimir was declared a saint).
A millennia later, Soviet Communism desperately tried, but failed, to crush the church and now it thrives. Kyiv is seen a spiritual centre for many Russians. So when in 2019 the Ukrainian arm of the family of Orthodox churches declared its independence from the Russian Orthodox Church, it was just another incident for the church and the loonies in power to fume over.
Pootin wrote last year, “The spiritual choice made by St Vladimir still largely determines our affinity today. In the words of Oleg the Prophet about Kyiv, ‘let it be the mother of all Russian cities’”. Pootin wants the capital city, Kyiv, back — he wants his Russian version of Christendom. He doesn’t want freedom loving, ‘decadent’ Ukraine pivoting away from the malevolent control of the fatherland.
This war is very sad indeed. I feel a great sorrow for the Ukrainian and Russian people and neighbouring countries. It’s exactly how I felt back in 2003 when the US and allies invaded Iraq, the repercussions of which are still being felt today. What a complete and utter disaster that was. And this potentially will be worse. The incompetence of the Russian military (feigned/deliberate?) giving way to tactics that are similar to those used in the levelling of Aleppo in Syria — bomb the country and it’s people into submission.
It is truly disheartening. I think to myself, what can anyone do when hearing of peoples suffering, of which we have no control, but to heal ourselves by reaching out to our fellow human beings, having respect and love for anyone who crosses our path.
What gives me faith in the human spirit is the well known extraordinary toughness and resilience of the Ukrainian people — and of course the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Seems a no nonsense sort of bloke with a big heart to match. A champion no less. Weeks ago he turned down an offer from the United States of evacuation from Kyiv. Brave, very brave. One can feel his love for the people with his charisma and personality to inspire them. But Russia is coming for the great city of Kyiv. Are there no good choices for the courageous people of Ukraine?
Some More Notes
— I have never set foot in Eastern Europe but I feel the vibe of Ukraine from historian Anna Reid, author of Borderland: a Journey through the History of Ukraine, when she speaks in response to the question: What does Ukraine look like? “It’s not flat and covered in dark pine forests like much of Russia; it’s green and gently rolling, and dotted with medieval fortresses, romantically neglected baroque palaces and monasteries, and quiet, pretty towns and little cities, much like those of Austria or the Czech Republic. Kyiv itself is a grand Belle Époque metropolis with up-and-down cobbled streets and chestnut trees. There are funny little back alleys and courtyards full of coffee shops and art galleries, leafy parks with views over the sprawling river Dnipro, and an array of glorious churches, the grandest of them the 11th-century Saint Sophia Cathedral”.
— It’s important for all freedom loving peoples to put things into perspective, because I strongly believe that our spiritual essence is connected to feeling freedom in our hearts. We can complain about the restrictions of Western governments controlling and brainwashing the masses (and of course they give it a good shot) but such manipulation pales in comparison to what goes in some countries. I like this trope of the Truman Show from Russian author, Vitaly Katselneson:
“People in Russia are brainwashed beyond what any Westerner can possibly imagine. They live in their own version of the Truman Show, in an alternate reality that is deeply divorced from the world outside their dome….”
— From the New York Times: The port city of Mykolaiv is being shelled by Russian forces every day. Bodies are piled at the morgue. But residents refuse to succumb. Maj. Gen. Dmitry Marchenko, commander of Ukraine’s military forces in Mykolaiv, said:
“We are defending our homes, our women, our families,” he said. “We don’t need their world. We don’t need their language. Let them build their own country…and create whatever dictatorship they want there. We’re going to live like free people.”