Letter: Take these lessons from the Ukraine's invasion

Posted 3/2/22

To the editor:

We sometimes amuse or horrify ourselves by asking how some event or meal rates on a 1-5 or on a 1-10 scale. Sometimes, though, scales do not apply, as with the Russian invasion of …

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Letter: Take these lessons from the Ukraine's invasion

Posted

To the editor:

We sometimes amuse or horrify ourselves by asking how some event or meal rates on a 1-5 or on a 1-10 scale. Sometimes, though, scales do not apply, as with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Such shattering moves are strictly binary.  

Like individuals, countries are motivated by greed or grace. Greed requires power, and total greed requires total power. Grace is quite different. There is no grace — meaning shared space, human rights, and justice for all — without participation, the kind offered and required in a democracy.

Putin has personified and operationalized greed. To do so he has amassed total power within Russia. His greed is for riches, land, and a place in world history. His tools are the police state at home and an offensive armed force for foreign land grabs. How Putin became this way is interesting but irrelevant. He has picked his ride, and, like the boy on the tiger’s back, Putin cannot blithely jump off now. In fact, to imagine him changing his spots is lunacy.

Our initial lesson is, as a people whose arc bends very imperfectly toward grace, we too can succumb to greed, placing autocrats in power and consigning our society to the evils they represent. These are the only two choices: Greed or grace.  

Make no mistake: Grace is not weakness. Weakness is the stupidity of people like Putin. So, the Russian army conquers Ukraine. What then? Do they round up and murder Ukraine’s leaders? Do they take a million Ukrainian prisoners of war back to Russia? Do they starve the remaining Ukrainian population?

War is always the failure of the human imagination. War is always failure. Unprovoked war creates hate that lasts for generations. These lessons should inform our vision and values and warn us about the inevitable end game of authoritarianism, here or elsewhere.

Will Newman

Tiverton

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