Freedom for Ukraine
A popular Buddhist belief in Thailand is to protect ancient trees, such as the banyan tree, by blessing them and wrapping saffron yellow scarves around the trunks; then no one can cut them down.
We have a pair of sacred trees on our road, each more than two metres thick, with the lower trunks wrapped in silk; they have survived centuries.
I wish I could have this magical power to wrap a blue and yellow national ribbon around Ukraine so no one could invade, destroy and enslave these freedom-loving people.
February 22 at 4am: Vladimir Putin suddenly attacks Ukraine by bombing Kherson. He starts a murderous, ruthless and unprovoked war. He claims to want to return Ukraine to the subjugation of Russia, because Russia dominated Ukraine when it was a satellite state of the USSR.
The USSR existed exactly 69 years. It was a failed and bloody experiment in totalitarianism. That era shaped Putin’s world view. He just can’t accept that his formerly subjugated neighbour built a thriving, democratic country free of the lies, censorship, control and fear that are now the new normal in Russia under Putin’s heavy hand. He wants more.
My great grandparents were classed as dissidents and Lenin shipped them on a rail car from Ukraine to Eastern Siberia. They shoved them off empty-handed in a barren field thousands of miles from their home. I grew up in Siberia, and I know the kind of world Putin is reconstructing.
It is impossible to describe my deep pain, shock and despair when I heard the news. The roots of it are very deep. It is a war against our brotherly people. Historically and culturally, the three closest Slavic nations are Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Our nations are blood related, we all have relatives and closest friends among them.
We studied in Kyiv; sometimes married in Odessa. We still speak Russian with each other, we cook borscht and pirogue and laugh at the same jokes. For centuries we were as tightly intertwined as tree roots. But not any more; Putin ruthlessly cut them as a barbarian would, intent on empire-building.
Another reason why I am in such disbelief is that as kids in the Soviet Union we were raised to be against war!
We read countless history books about the horrors of WWII, watched many films about the war. It was drilled into us that the Soviet Union had lost 22 million people in one single war! In every family, someone was killed defending our homeland.
We learnt to think and say, “As long as there is no war … all is well … as long as there is no war!”
I feel my core values: freedom and peace, are violated.
I often think what I would say to my grandfather, Boris, who fought in WWII. How I could explain this war of aggression on our brothers and sisters by Putin; this selfish, naked grab for power, domination and wealth? What would he say, a courageous man who fought alongside millions of his countrymen to stop Hitler from seizing and plundering their Russian homeland?
The 43 million Ukrainian citizens under the leadership of president Volodymyr Zelensky do not bow to Putin. They bravely stand up to fight for their freedom and future and they are fighting desperately against overwhelming odds because they share a national dream: the freedom of an independent Ukraine.
No one has any right to take it from them.
My phone is deluged with messages from my friends in Ukraine. They pour in from shelters, underground rail stations, basements … anywhere to be safe from the bombing.
I cry when I read them; they are filled with hope.
Last night I was reading some to my husband, Bill. He had posted a song online he wrote and sang, Free Ukraine, and was stunned by the flood of heartfelt and grateful messages he received, many written during attacks and bombardments.
This is one I received late last night from a bomb shelter during the ongoing battle of Mykolaiv, a city on the Black Sea:
“Thank you for your support, it is so important for us that I just shed tears! Planes are flying and bombing my home city. Today many civilians were killed and my friends’ houses were heavily bombed. We couldn’t sleep at night, the windows were shaking, the sirens were screaming. My father is here with me after having a stroke, and my mother had a nervous breakdown.
“My daughter asked me, ‘Are we going be killed? Why, mommy?’ I am very afraid. My husband has relatives in Russia and they do not understand why we are fighting, and do not believe the horrible things their soldiers are doing here on our land. This is a horror against humanity. Thank you so much. Please pray for me, my family and Ukraine. The only thing I want now is to survive.”
The sunflower is Ukraine’s national flower and, in folk imagery, represents the warmth and power of the sun, which was worshipped by pre-Christian Slavs. Young girls danced among sunflowers.
Now, during the Russian invasion, Ukrainian women soldiers carry rifles and wear sunflowers in their hair.
Dear readers, my family, friends, let us do whatever we can, suffer any hardships, so the bright sun of victory will soon come out and Ukrainians will grow new fields of sunflowers on their beloved land. The children will laugh and hide in them, the girls will weave beautiful wreaths and bake bread, and the men will build new houses.
Freedom for Ukraine!
Nina London is a certified wellness coach, Qigong teacher and laughter leader. Her mission is to support and help cancer patients and survivors and inspire mature women to make positive changes in their body and mind. Share your inspirational stories with Nina at www.ninalondon.com and follow her on Instagram @coachninalondon