Ukraine: reflecting on the contrasts
Chaplain Adrian Prior-Sankey offered these thoughts, at the request of the Council Chair, with members of Somerset West and Taunton District Council at the start of their meeting on Thursday 3 March 2022
Mindful of the human suffering in Ukraine I invite you to reflect on the contrasts we have witnessed in recent days:
We are horrified to learn of the disregard of international protocols by President Putin which has resulted in death, fear, suffering and instability in Ukraine and the potential for a wider impact on the lives of people across Europe and beyond.
In contrast we have seen the courage and determination of ordinary people to resist the military aggressors.
We are deeply disturbed at the sight of a growing number of refugees seeking safety for the very young, the frail and vulnerable. People plucked from their homes and routine lifestyle are having to undertake perilous journeys to places where they have little or no shelter, aid or resources beyond that provided by their hosts at short notice.
In contrast we see a groundswell of human compassion including collecting points in our own communities and partnerships between governmental and voluntary bodies to transport aid to the refugee centres.
We witness the punishment of people within Russia who protest at the injustice and aggression and we see bans and restrictions placed on journalists of integrity and the distortion of truth and claims of fake news to suit the perverse purposes of Putin and his supporters.
In contrast we applaud the bravery of those who risk serious consequences because of their stand for truth and their commitment to shine light on dark practices. We admire those who sacrifice material benefit for the sake of integrity and a clear conscience.
We are sickened by the mealy-mouthed words of those who want to cow tow to the Putin regime for fear of personal loss and we are saddened by the reluctance to act by those who have the ability to take tough decisions to bring economic and other sanctions to bear.
In contrast we rejoice at the spectrum of support for efforts to bring the protagonists to the peace table. We are heartened by the coming together of politicians from across the party divide to confront the wickedness that has undermined democracy and respect for liberty and freedom of speech and expression.
We are fearful of pronouncements that threaten an escalation of the warfare and the consequent killing of thousands and perhaps millions of civilians. The impact on the mental health of many cannot be underestimated, all the more in the wake of the global pandemic of the past two years.
In contrast we are hopeful that the uniting of the hearts and voices of people of all faiths and none is providing an antidote to despair and seeing success for the efforts of a small but determined nation’s people resisting overwhelming numbers akin to stories that are recorded in many sacred texts.
Standing in the line of those who united across ethnic, faith and cultural divides to defeat tyrants of the past, we determine to identify with all who choose justice, compassion and truth.
And we make our commitment in the name of Peace.
Image | Pexels
Adrian Prior-Sankey MBE is Lead Chaplain, Taunton Team Chaplaincy, and a member of Halcon Baptist Church, Taunton
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