Remember the Real Enemy
Today the world finds itself in the midst of a conflict not seen since World War II. The Russian Federation has invaded Ukraine, leaving thousands dead or injured and over a million people driven from their homes. Despite the chaos, the Ukrainian people have put up a valiant resistance, through both their military and their gritty civilians. My heart weeps for all the families who's lives have been upended.
Let's call it like it is--the Russian invasion is a heinous and disgusting attack on innocent people. The Ukrainians are a sovereign people and no one has the right to tell them how they should live. Everything short of escalating the conflict should be done to help Ukraine (unless NATO is attacked first, in which case all bets are off). But, there is a point I want to remind everyone: in this conflict, Russia is not the enemy.
In The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Katniss is drafted to once again fight in the bloody pageant known as the Hunger Games. Toward the end, Katniss is unsure who to trust and she aims her bow at Finnick, who until this point was her ally. Finnick raises his hands and says in a firm voice, "Remember who the real enemy is." This reminds Katniss that her friends, and even the tributes who were trying to kill her, are not the real enemy. President Snow is the enemy. Tyranny is the enemy.
Motivated by power, Vladimir Putn sent his army into an independent nation under the delusional pretense that it's what the Ukrainian people wanted, that they were suffering under the "nazi" rule of the Ukrainian government and secretly yearned for the comfort of Russian leadership. Putin set up a grand spectacle in which he flexed the might of the Russian millitary to allegedly topple forces of disorder and chaos. So far, the Ukrainians have resisted with everything they have, staving off the quick victory Putin was hoping for. Yet, Putin has pressed on with little signs of slowing down, determined to affirm Russian superiority to the world, and to his own people. If innocent people have to die or if citizens have to be detained for speaking their minds just to prove his point, then so be it.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Hunger Games.
It is imperative we remember that Putin is not Russia, however he'd like you to believe it. The Russian people, like the tributes Katniss was forced to fight, are hostages of their own tyrannical government. Many Russians are outraged that their military is pulverizing a neighboring country, one that they share cultural and familial ties with. Each time someone speaks out against the war, the Russian government tightens its grip on the freedom of speech, banning independent news agencies and threatening protestors with imprisonment. These people are risking their lives to fight injustice. They are not the enemy.
The Russian people have a rich history and culture spanning thousands of years. They have contributed so much to the human spirit through art, literature, music, architecture, science, and religion. And, Russia holds a special place in my heart as it's the home country of my sister, who was adopted from there. Surely the people, the culture who gave life to my sister who I love with all my heart, are not evil.
Demonizing Russia as a whole does harm to the Russian civilians who are not in favor of Putin's draconia. It also feeds into Putin's narrative that the West is out to get the Russian way of life. We must continue to sanction the Russian government to put pressure on Putin and his gaggle of billionaires, but that does not mean we should sanction Russian culture. It is not, nor should it ever be, a sin to celebrate another culture. Explore Russian music. Learn the Russian language. Drink all the vodka you like, just don't buy it if it comes from a Russian company, because every penny we block from the Russian economy serves to stifle the oligarchs that have dominated that nation. Unfortunately, sanctions will also make life harder for Russian citizens, but this is the way warfare should be fought in the 21st century, not with guns and bombs, but with different cultures standing up and saying "NO!" to tyranny.
The world is beautiful because of our diversity. We can stand by that diversity and call out injustice when we see it. The world is full of countries with good, loving people who have the misfortune of being ruled by evil people. Remember who the real enemy is. Stand with the Ukrainians who are fighting for their right to exist, but also stand with the Russians who are chained to a madman with a nuclear arsenal.
In other news, I am absolutely thrilled to announce that my short story "Mission to Techland" is now in print! I was inspired to write this sci-fi adventure after seeing the post-apocalyptic setting of The Walking Dead, particularly the episode "Clear". (Spoiler: despite the inspiration, there are no zombies in my tale). I had a blast writing it, and I'm so excited to share it with the world.
In addition, my article "Move Past the Speeches" has been reprinted! This article about taking action on climate change previously appeared with the ezine Utopia Science Fiction. If you haven't read it, now is your chance to see it, this time in physical print! Both of these pieces are part of Shelter of Daylight, Winter 2022! You can find a copy HERE.
Stay safe and stand for freedom! Until next time!