The invisible impact of the war against Ukraine
A personal note
Yes, this post is out of order and out of character but feels necessary after a day of talking to clients who can’t stop venting on the subject. I realized I share their feelings.
I feel unsettled and depressed. That’s not me. I live with purpose, buzzing around all day like time is going out of fashion. Then again, for the last few days, I’ve been glued to multiple news outlets trying to figure out what the fuckski is going on in Putin’s head, in Ukraine, and at home in Bulgaria.
I happened to stumble on a tweet by someone who said Putin invaded before the major news outlets picked up the story. Remember, The News gets the news from Twitter. So, I hop over to the Russian state TV stream to see his face announcing the “special military operations” in Ukraine. I used to speak Russian pretty well back in school. I still understand enough to make out his threat of nuclear retaliation should anyone try to stand in his way. It gave me flashbacks.
I remember a time in my life when the world stood bitterly divided, and the likes of him kept our side in check, in line, and in fear. It was bad, alright. Remember when Brezhnev died? He was two dudes before Gorbachev, the Perestroika guy. You may not know much about soviet history, and I don’t blame you. I’ve been trying to forget it myself.
But back then, when Brezhnev died, I was 10. I knew that the way we lived was screwy. I mean, the whole show of greatness around holidays when we all dressed up in uniforms and marched with flags and the faces of the deer communist leaders chanting proletariat slogans for unity against the imperialists, fascists, and capitalist pigs, felt like a mass theater. The best thing about those days was no school and my mom baking something yummy on her day off.
At the same time, every chance people got, they skipped the country and tried never to come back. I knew someone who tried to fly over the Bulgarian – Serbian border with an air balloon, hoping to cross over to the West from there. Yeah, it didn’t go well. So, how was communism so great if people couldn’t stand it.
I didn’t know. I was 10. All I knew was the brainwashing propaganda and adventure books like Robinson Crusoe and Treasure Island, which I had to sneak into the library to read because they were not approved material and not available to check out. That day Brezhnev died, the sirens wailed, and the flags fell halfway down their masts. I thought the capitalist pigs were coming to get us with their imperialist friends and fascists in tow. I hid under the table, curled into the tiniest ball I could form. I kept asking my mom if the world was about to end now. She tried to help me understand that it will be interesting going forward.
When the world didn’t end, I went back to reading about the adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, and Alice in Wonderland, while somewhere on the back of my head, a rebellion was brewing. I never got over the trick the communist played on me, making me believe the Universe looks better in red. As I got older, I paid more attention to what our great leaders say and then do, to how things function, the nepotism, connections, graft, lies, and exploitation of the hard-working people by the communist elite. But, most importantly, I paid attention to the ingenious ways in which the population bucked the system every day with undying hope that things would be better tomorrow. People held hope despite the control, censorship, labor camps, and propaganda. Eventually, they got their wish.
In 1989, Bulgaria overthrew communism, and it’s been a mess ever since. At least, it’s a mess the people make themselves and then try to figure out. Bulgaria is not exactly a model for post-communist development, but hey, I don’t live there anymore either. For over 30 years, I’ve been bumming around the US of A and thinking the past got left behind in communist Bulgaria.
Then Putin invaded Ukraine on the tail end of a grueling pandemic full of political division, massive corruption, colossal income inequality gap, and riots and protests all over the country just before. Beyond America, the whole world stands vulnerable, tired, and jittery, hoping 2022 brings some sense of normalcy and resemblance of life as we used to have it.
What in the actual Hell is wrong with this guy? Yeah, I know. He’s a genius, according to Trump, but then what in the actual Hell is wrong with Trump? I will not do a political analysis of the situation by any stretch of the imagination. Plenty are doing a great job out there.
I am here to speak of the invisible impact this war has and will have on many across the globe. All of us just went through a ringer, thanks to Coivd. Many of us also remember the communist nut jobs we lived under. Putin just triggered our collective PTSD. Mine for sure. For many of us, Russia represented the Big Bad Brother, disciplining, controlling, and determining our life experiences. We didn’t want it. We hurt with the Ukrainian people because we remember. Some things never leave you, even when you think you left them behind.
For the rest of the world, watching in disbelief while having their own problems at home, the thought of some crazy actor usurping power or taking over their lives keeps them up at night too. The uncertainty this conflict brings internationally from an economic perspective in the middle of historically high inflation, unaffordable housing, and political stress may be too much for some to bear. There is only so much stress a human psyche can process. For some, it may be too much. They will be the uncounted casualties of this war.
For many, this conflict brings a sense of doom for their future, confusion, worry about their finances, how things will play out in their own countries, especially those close by. The extra stress puts people everywhere on edge. No matter how hard people try to ignore what is happening, they can’t ignore the threat of nuclear war. They can’t ignore the strain on their budgets. We can’t ignore the worry about future peace and progress. Our children and their future…
I hope Putin fails and gets caught. February 15th marked the 100th year of the International Court of Justice in The Hauge. I hope he stands in that court like other sleaze bags before him and answers for his crimes against humanity. But the damage he’s done already will take a long time to repair in people’s lives and minds. And those who die in this senseless act of violence for the benefit of only one – Putin himself, will never be returned to their families.
At the same time, watching world powers trying to tiptoe around him to save their economic priorities fuels anger and mistrust and disillusionment in governments and democracies across the world, especially Europe and the USA. What’s the long-term impact of this? I don’t want to contemplate it.
I told you I was depressed.
Do you believe me now?
How do you feel? What are your thoughts as you watch this nightmare unfold?
Thanks for reading.