Fighting with Knowledge: The shallow justifications of a man who can’t do more.

Fair warning. This is horribly off topic. I’m copying, and expanding upon, my Facebook post on my profile here. It’s to do with currents on the rapidly developing situation in Ukraine.

If you’d rather avoid this, feel free to skip. I do, however, ask you politely and desperately to at least hear me out.

I’ve purposely kept quiet on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. There is enough sabre rattling and armchair generals giving hot-takes. I’m not going to pretend I’m immune to such impulses.

Many people, myself included, are grappling with how we aid Ukraine and it’s people in this fight. Those with money can donate, and while trying to find reputable charities to donate to can br difficult, the Canadian Red Cross is accepting donations and is probably the best shot.

Short of having the balls to tell a Russian warship to “go fuck yourself”, the most many of us westerners can do in the short term is financial aid or taking the risk and going over to Ukraine to fight yourself. The “Snake Island 13” have already proven Ukrainian resolve. But where is the rest of the worlds?

Some are going in person, to either fight as a volunteer or to document what’s going on as a living witness to history. This option is noble, and I’ll be honest if I could I’d have taken it. I still feel like an abject spineless coward for not taking this path, camera in hand. But my myriad of health issues makes that difficult. If you can do what needs to be done, and can get there, Godspeed.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses his people and the world in a defiant street side video. Later, as the US offered to extract him, he would reply “I need ammunition, not a ride.”

There are those that see a larger picture; what comes next. NATO being dragged into this war is, make no mistake, taking an apocalyptic risk. Know what advocating for that means. This isn’t WW2. This will be total war on a scale beyond human reckoning. I don’t believe for a second we can avoid that risk, lest we let dictators with nuclear weapons do what they want. But be absolutely, unequivocally certain you know what that means. As a side note, I did see if I could enlist if it came to that. I refuse to sit here and advocate a military response if I couldn’t attempt to go myself. But I’m disqualified from military service. If I’m going to fight, it’s with a pen and camera not a rifle.

This photo, taken on an exercise in Poland in 2016, shows Canada’s small involvement in NATO defenses in Europe. If war does come, Canadian servicemen will not have far to be deployed. They’ll be there quickly, for better or for worse.

Finally, and the option I think I can most readily do. Again, the self-accusations of cowardice are strong here, I desperately want to do more. Ukraine burns while I sit comfortable, and I hate it. But I’ve spoken to enough people to know my own talents here. That is, you document, download, and distribute as much news as you can. This takes a degree of ethical fibre and fact checking, as you don’t want to spread misinformation or propaganda. I won’t begrudge the Ukrainians for it on their part, this is a life or death struggle for many of them. The Holodomor happened to them, they refuse to let it happen again. But spreading inaccurate reports does little to credibly help your cause, so if your going to spread news do it with a degree of responsibility. If you need help knowing what news sources are the best for this, I can assist. And to break my usual rule about swearing, if you post Russian state media I will be absolutely fucking merciless to you about it. So, if you are going to help inform people about what’s going on, how would that help?

A Ukrainian soldier catches his breath, amid wreckage in Kyiv. If they lose, we must burn these images into our collective memories. We must not let such images to be censored or taken off the internet. Document everything.

What you would be doing in this case is to ensure that in the event of Russian victory or worse, that the voice of the Ukrainian people is heard, and isn’t swept away. To ensure that the truth is not buried. Even far away from the battlefields in Kyiv, Mariupol, and elsewhere, you can be a witness to history. Remember where you were, what you see. Don’t let the truth be sacrificed in the name of political or personal causes. For foreign reporters on the ground over there, this makes their work worth it.

And for the Ukrainian journalists and citizens covering this war in their own backyard, they face very real risks to their lives. We owe them just a little bit of final effort to ensure what they see and hear isn’t buried.

This woman’s stubborn defiance of Russian soldiers, telling them to take sunflower seeds so that when they die they will bloom, is a non-violent example of Ukrainian resolve and pluck. We can only hope we have that kind of fortitude when the time comes.

I’ve included a link of reporters to follow. Some have less objectivity in this then normal. But while objectivity is important, it’s also really hard in times like this.

I leave off with the inflammatory tagline of the Washington Press, embellished as one does in times of need.

Democracy dies in darkness. Refuse to turn out the light.

https://www.standard.co.uk/insider/kyiv-ukranian-journalists-war-reporters-follow-twitter-b984588.html?amp&fbclid=IwAR2NJomUT4lkl8WRsZXPaNf_SALb-nr3BAuiQ6ckLsutMRiHJLEV8ROmpNU

A caveat I didn’t add to my Facebook post. I have a very good Russian-Canadian friend who renounced his ties to his homeland and has in no uncertain terms told Putin and his extended family what he thinks of all this. It’s easy to tar all Russians with the same brush, but that is wildly irresponsible.

What really horrified me? He’s getting racism and fanatical remarks thrown his way for the crime of being born Russian. I’m a Pakistani, often blamed for 9/11 and much more besides as my nation became known as a source of terrorists and a haven for Bin-Laden. I would not wish on my worst enemy the feeling of being an enemy alien in your adopted country.

Remember that Putin started this war. Fight if you have to, protest vigorously. But if someone is willing to renounce the place of their birth, the land of their heritage, in order to adopt the ideals and values of their new home? Let them fight with you. Don’t punch down. And remember that it’ll be probably be Russian internal strife, and Russian people rising up, to end this crisis.

6 thoughts on “Fighting with Knowledge: The shallow justifications of a man who can’t do more.

  1. Great post sir. I might add, there is something hobby-related you can do to help: I’m running a fundraiser with a distinct tabletop and hobby angle to support Ukraine—I’ve partnered with a sculptor in Lviv to design a 3D-printable model commemorating Ukraine’s defenders that we’re giving away in return for donations.

    Would you be willing to write a quick post about the fundraiser on your blog?

    You can see the fundraiser here: https://digitalarmies.gumroad.com/l/ukrnlaw

    And people who don’t have their own 3D printer can get the model and donate here: https://www.speira.net/product/figures/ukrainian-special-operations-soldier/

    If you’re interested I can send you more information and images.

    Thanks!

    -J.P.

    Like

    1. I’ll get right back to you! My 3D printer isn’t working, but I absolutely will promote this. Give me a few hours and I’ll quickly get something done up.

      Thanks for getting in touch!

      Like

  2. Not sure if my previous comment posted but here it is again:

    Great post sir. By the way there is now something hobby-related you can do to help:

    I’m running a fundraiser with a distinct tabletop and hobby angle to support Ukraine—I’ve partnered with a sculptor in Lviv to design a 3D-printable model commemorating Ukraine’s defenders that we’re giving away in return for donations.

    Would you be willing to write a quick post about the fundraiser on your blog?

    You can see the fundraiser here: https://digitalarmies.gumroad.com/l/ukrnlaw

    And people who don’t have their own 3D printer can get the model and donate here: https://www.speira.net/product/figures/ukrainian-special-operations-soldier/

    If you’re interested I can send you more information and images.

    Thanks!

    -J.P.

    Like

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