I’m watching the news and the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is speaking to the European Union. As one, the other politicians rise when he begins speaking. And after his descriptions of the war, of the bombing, he excuses himself to leave. To go fight for his country. And, once more, the European Union members rose and applauded.
He wore a simple t-shirt. I think the Ukrainian crest was embroidered where the left breast pocket would normally be. He’s speaking to delegates. Leaders. People whom control so many parts of the threatened free world. And he’s in a t-shirt.
I love this man.
Because he didn’t take the time to suit up. To don the crisp suit and the perfect tie. He didn’t worry about his pocket square or the tie-pin. He was in basic clothing because he was caring more for his country than the need to care for appearances.
He hasn’t left his country. He and the prime minister, his chief-of-staff, heads of his political parties. They stayed. I saw a different report in which a parliamentary leader was standing in the city square, an AK (I think) strapped over his shoulder. He wore a trench coat against the cold. I think I saw gloves. It doesn’t matter.
In the delegation meeting between Ukraine and Russia, one Ukrainian delegate wore a baseball cap. The Russians were in their starched and pressed suits. Their emblems neatly pressed and pinned onto their lapels. The Ukrainians were unshaved.
And I loved them.
I know that appearance matters. I’ve read political letters in which the closing address can send huge meaning. I love Madeline Albright’s broach collection and all the messages she’s sent through her varying pins.
But, in this case, the lack of polish is what matters. They aren’t covering up what is happening. They aren’t showing that “it’s business as usual.”
They’re showing that they’re fighting a war. A war that, should they fall, spells the possible..potential downfall of the world.
Because Putin isn’t saber rattling. He’s nuclear rattling.
Today, a Ukrainian Holocaust memorial was bombed. This after Putin claims he’s freeing people from the Neo-Fascist, Neo-Nazi Ukrainian government.
It’s not hard for me to choose a side.
It’s hard to feel like I can’t do anything. I can’t donate my blood (not allowed to by the American Red Cross). I can donate money. But will that be enough? I can donate my time. My energy.
Will that be enough?
When the war is thousands of miles away, what can I do?
I am beyond the shock of what has happened. Now, I sit in fear. In impatient anxiety. I watch convoys of Russian military enter the country as people flee. Or contemplate fleeing.
Or have to stay because they’re three year-old daughter has cancer and they need her medicine.
I don’t know what to do. Not yet.
But I know where I stand. And at least I have a starting point.