For a while, I was trying to write something which would make sense, but it did not work. Several times, I started writing something like, “I can’t understand why some people think.” But there are too many things that I can’t understand. I am very sorry for all my friends in Russia who lived in an emotional hell for many years but especially for the past seven months. But for those who were saying that “it’s not so straightforward,” or for those who all this time pretended that “life goes as usual,” I do not have any words of sorrow. Why just now? Why all these cries about “not letting them go”?
I am not talking about those who decided “to defend the Motherland.” I still do not understand why these people think that their country is equal to the current government, and there are many other things I do not understand.
It was a very difficult day for me because I lost it at some point and allowed myself to worry about the situation, about how many lives would have to be lost until we see the blue sky again. My presentation went well, but I was hiding for most of the day from other social activities.
I will try to be social for this night, though. Most of my peers do not understand how I feel. And they are under no obligations. I know there are many sorrows in the world.
I can’t even remotely describe how happy I am with the development the war is taking at the moment. I am afraid to jink it, but God, how great it feels!
And how happy it makes me feel that I know that my “two cents” are a part of this development! I know it was more symbolic than anything else that I wanted to give money to the defense of Ukraine in addition to the humanitarian relief, but still, it feels incredibly good.
And also… it is historically funny how the language of the Russian propaganda these days not even resembles but cites the old Soviet-times play The Dragon by Eugeny Schwartz.
And I will stop for now 🙂
“Do you like the Soth Side?” a young woman in the youth shelter asked me. We talked about her home; she said she is from St. Louis and wants to return there. “What about Chicago?” I asked her.
– Chicago is my second best. The South Side
-Which places do you like on the South Side?
-It’s not places; I like being there. I like how I feel. It gives me good vibes. People are friendly, and I feel good when I walk there and people say Hi.
-I like how you said it! It’s very important to feel good vibes!
And then she asked: Do you like South Side?
She asked with hope in her voice, and I avoided the answer.
I do not know it enough, although Igor took me to tour the South Side landmarks on multiple occasions. It is a foreign land for me; even though people are indeed nice and friendly, I do not belong there. And this young woman is blissfully ignorant of that.
I don’t know what to make out of that except for acknowledging the fact..
The more I think about volunteering, the more I believe that the most important part is not to expect thanks, neither from the people we serve nor the general public. I am not saying people are never thanked for their service; quite often, they are. But it’s important not to expect it. Recently, I was asked why that happens that many people want to volunteer for an important cause right after the crisis starts, but then later, they walk away. There might be several reasons, but often there is a realization that what you are doing is not something glamorous or even heroic, and you are not “a savior.” When you come to help a cause, it’s a job, often not most efficiently organized, with tons of idle time, but it’s a job that needs to be done to make a world a slightly better place.
Another thing that I only recently started to realize is that you should not expect a visible result immediately (or ever). I have thought about this since I attended the meeting with Toya Wolfe at Chicago Public Library.
When I asked her what she thinks an ordinary person can do, I meant something like what should we advocate for? What policies should be instilled? What can be changed in society so that young people won’t end up in gangs? How can we finally stop the shooting, stop the killing? Because it feels like whatever has been done so far, including the Ceasefire and the Interrupters, seems to produce no difference.
When she said: you are already doing a lot; keep doing what you are doing, I thought that she was just dismissive. And then she continued: don’t try to be a God.
I thought about this for a while. I am not a religious person, and I always thought that serving others has nothing to do with religion. But recently, I started to think that maybe it was something with nuns always being the ones attending the sick, running orphanages and schools … Nuns do not expect to be thanked for their services because they serve people in the name of God. And for the same reason, they do not expect to change the world through their service. They just do what they can, and they keep doing it.
And now I am thinking: what could and should be in place of faith for a non-religious person? And can you still selflessly serve others when you have loved ones who are clearly more important to you than the rest of the world?…
Thinking about myself in the times of the Soviet Union and how I felt in other “socialist republics,” and thinking about the cries of “discrimination against the Russian language,” whether it is in Ukraine, Estonia, or another independent country, I feel like what some people call “discrimination,” is, in fact, taking their previous privileges away.
I think it is true in many different settings.
In the same way, men often do not believe women are discriminated against because they consider their entitlement a norm. When their privileges are taken away, they consider it a deprivation of their rights. And in the same way, some white people believe they are placed in a disadvantaged position only because their white privileges are taken away.
I am shocked that so many people do not realize the level of police profiling and do not see any problem with it on the basis that “Black really commit more crimes!” From the moment when the Highland Shooting happened, I knew it would draw public attention primarily because both the suspect and the victims were white. After all, there were a couple of shootings on the South Side the same weekend, which went virtually unnoticed because “there are always shootings on the South Side.”
I do not know what will it take to change that.
Yesterday, Boris and I talked about the current war situation. I am so desperate that everybody (meaning – all countries) says they are standing with Ukraine and for Ukraine, and at the same time, barely doing anything. All this is multiplied by the natural gas situation and calls for “peace first.” And I was so mad about these statements from Russian officials about the Odesa port: yes, that was us, and we are going to continue. And yes, we are committed to the grain agreements, but we will still shell the port and fire at the ships and the warehouses, and we do not care a bit about the UN Secretary and anybody else.
We talked about why it all happens and whether the gas dependency is the only reason. Boris said that yes, but also, there are other things which we do not see and the politicians can’t talk about, like there is a constant string pulling by the spies on both sides. He mentioned a couple of episodes from the Soviet Union times spy wars, which he knew from his father. The moral of these stories is that there are likely other reasons why the Western countries are not pushing hard enough.
And back to the gas supply. Just to think that Russia receives at least the same amount of money for gas from the Western countries as these countries use to support Ukraine… I can’t wrap my head around this, and when I think about it, I feel helpless and hopeless.
Every morning, I wake up with the hope that a miracle happened, and every day, I repeat the words of one of my Ukrainian friends: this day will come, just not as soon as both you and I would like it to come…
In the past couple of days, my optimism about the development at the war front started to return partially because there was some good news, partially because I could see some panic in the ranks of pro-war bloggers.
At the same time, I was deeply saddened by some conversations I had with my Russian friends. All of them are against the war. All of them say that they feel endless shame and disgust with the actions of the Russian government and pain a sorrow for the sufferings of the people of Ukraine.
But that’s where the similarities end. The are two ways they think about “how this can end.” One – Russia will become a complete outcast in the world, a country completely isolated from civilization, and will stay like this for long, maybe forever. And another way – Russia will be destroyed and disappear from the earth’s surface, “and we deserve it.”
s I mentioned before, I firmly believe that only the defeat in this war might give Russia a chance to come back as a new country, a defeat as profound as Nazi Germany in WWII. But with my friends, such a defeat is either a tragedy or “it won’t be enough, it won’t change the people.
Both make me sad, and I do not know what to do with it…
I am sure I blogged about it a couple of times, but one more time…
Why the second question to me should be, “where are you from?” It does not define me! It’s not the first, second, or third thing that defines me! Sometimes I am inclined to play a game that my friend Lena often plays when asked the same question. She moved around quite a bit, so she would say: I am local. And then people ask her: but where did you live previously? she would say: in Chicago. And before that? – In London. And before that? – in Albany… you got it.
Often, I do not have time for this game, and instead, I ask: you mean where my accent is from?
I understand a general curiosity, but really – you are in a professional environment, or you are volunteering together for a common cause, and the second question is, “what’s your ethnical background?!”
Trust me; there are more fun facts about me!
I didn’t have the internet on my flight back, so I drafted several posts and didn’t actually post them; and yes, then that happened – another shooting, so close to home… and I do not know what to say…
Although I didn’t see that many refugees on a trip this time, the sense of a more massive war approaching is here. And t does not really matter whether you are now in Europe or anywhere else. Each day, the news from the front leaves me paralyzed with horror, and every day, my mind is running circles asking – why, why, why there is so little help?! I said it already multiple times, and I can repeat it again: if Russia continues pressing the Ukrainian forces out of their territory, if Russia is left victorious, it won’t stop there! There is no hope for Ukraine; there is no hope for the world; there is no hope for Russia’s rebirth as a different kind of state if this won’t be stopped.