So Russia invade Ukraine while I was on vacation…
Keep reading, I promise this isn’t what you think
A week ago I was traveling through the great country of Colombia (not Columbia; they’ll keep reminding you of that distinction), eating new food and hiking through the jungle. I had left from Chicago just as the tensions between Russia and Ukraine were hitting a boiling point. But I never would have imagined that I would find out Russia invaded Ukraine while on an island off the coast of Cartagena.
(Note: what’s happening in Ukraine, while tragic, is not remarkable; terrible situations are playing out across the world that do not get nearly as much attention as they deserve. This piece was spurred on by what’s currently happening in Ukraine.)
I preface this by saying this isn’t me complaining about how such an international tragedy ruined my vacation. Quite the contrary: it had little to no effect if I’m being quite honest. Besides checking my phone for new updates and ruminating on the shitty state of the world, I continued to enjoy myself.
While millions of lives had changed overnight, I drank a Corona while listening to a Latin cover band. While Russia marched forward to Kyiv and Kharkiv, I swam in the peaceful Caribbean sea. While thousands of people were fleeing their homes, I was returning to mine.
Even now, I sit behind my desk, working my cushy work-from-home job, while across the pond, the realities of so many are shockingly different. Even a few blocks down, the people a few neighborhoods away from me live completely different lives with a set of challenges that I can’t begin to fathom.
And it makes me feel like a terrible person.
Look, I’m not trying to make some sort of self-righteous thought piece on how I’m a better person because I feel like a shitty person. I know that a lot of people acknowledge this reality and move forward because it is just that: reality. This is the way things are, we are in the situation we find ourselves in, and we have to work with what we have.
I just don’t really operate that way. It’s hard for me to focus on the day-to-day stuff when there’s just so much pain in the world. It is very difficult to find meaning in what kind of apple I should buy when people are starving. It’s hard for me to focus on my vacation in Colombia when Russia just invaded Ukraine. I still enjoyed myself, but thinking about it now, it’s quite unnerving that I was able to do that so easily.
The stark differences in our realities are mind-boggling which makes it so excruciating to listen to people drone on about finding themselves and pursuing dreams when that’s just not an option for a very large percentage of our world.
I realize this isn’t a productive stance I’m taking (or even original for that matter). Me feeling bad about people in bad situations offers nothing to them in terms of value or general aid in getting out of said situations. It’s just how I feel, and I’m not really sure what to do with it.
As I write this piece, I realize there isn’t really an answer to my question, which I’m not even sure is a real question. Maybe it’s just a space for me to complain to the ether about how the last week has played out in my head. Or maybe I’m looking for people that feel the same way.
Either way, if you’ve made it this far I appreciate you. Here’s an article on how to help the people of Ukraine, I’ll be checking it out myself and figuring out where I can donate.
I also implore you to donate and volunteer in your community, as well as send money to places that have people that don’t look like you. We live in a terrible world right now, don’t let anyone tell you differently. But maybe we can make it a little better, somehow.