What Would You Put In Your Bag? Reflections on Ukraine
I’m a walking sack of contradictions. I love a good disaster movie. An asteroid about to hit the earth? Sign me up. The aliens are landing just as the zombies have risen? Five star ratings from me. Dystopian and war novels are just my thing. Children of Men, yup, extra-large popcorn for me.
In real life, I hate confrontation and I can’t understand why people can’t just live and let live. I also hate real war and hate what’s going on in Ukraine and what Putin is doing. I just can’t comprehend the mindset of someone who thinks it’s ok to put so much pain and suffering on another.
Looking at the news over the past few days has been heartbreaking. The pictures of people leaving their homes with one bag was the topic of conversation for myself and Talulah. What would you bring? What could you not leave behind?
Thinking about it, you would need travel documents, birth certificates, proof of name and address, a few photos, medication, spare socks, that kind of thing. But it’s not really about what is in the bag. It’s about what’s left behind.
We all struggle and strive to have a nice place to live, to have appliances, gadgets and facilities that make our lives ‘easier’. More and more of these are just for fun, for passing the time, for entertainment. We try to have nice clothes, we buy stuff so we can, hopefully, make a ‘better’ future for ourselves. But these are just material things.
The pictures from Ukraine are a stark reminder that we need to cherish and savour every moment of every day. Everything we have could be taken away from us in an instant. As a society, we really should have learned this from the pandemic. Live every day like it’s your last.
Heroes of Ukraine
One of my favourite books is The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure. An architect living in Paris during WWII tries to hide and protect Jewish people from the house searches of the Gestapo. This, and all the dystopian films I’ve watched and books I’ve read, have one common thread. There’s a person, trying to overcome adversity of the highest order. Every fiber of their being is tested. Yes, a hero.
I have the luxury of watching the Russian invasion from afar. I’m safe where I am. Not counting Northern Ireland, this is probably the nearest actual war has been to me in my lifetime. The bravery and sacrifice of the Ukrainian people has overwhelmed me on a few occasions this week. This isn’t a film, it’s real life. A life where the Ukrainian people are fighting back against their invaders, where they are willing to fight and die for the freedom of their families, friends and neighbours. It’s the most unselfish of acts.
Heartbroken families have separated, knowing it may have been their last time together. They filled their bags with what they could carry, what they would need. Women and children leaving their homes to become refugees so they can give their children a future. No doubt, there are mementos in the bags. It’s not about what’s in the bag, it’s about those who have stayed behind so everyone else can have their freedom.