The Concepts and Contexts of the War in Ukraine
There are fringe arguments that remain very skeptical of the events in Ukraine. Mostly, I believe these perspectives are enabled by a media that covers a generally narrow view of events. One can find a variety of views, but they generally convey the same message. Because of how the recent COVID-19 events were so irresponsibly propagated, it is not difficult to understand the aversion to mainstream narratives.
But, because the media may show a limited angle does not make the events of those angles themselves illegitimate to the whole of reality. It means that the individual has a greater responsibility to do their own research in order to discover what else is assumed unimportant or worse, inconvenient to either larger set of sociopolitical narratives. It is much easier to complain about what we see than to seek out what we don’t.
Because what we see appeals to an emotional response, I believe some get lost in the mud between concept and context. There is a profound difference between what is caused by a concept and the effects of those causes in context.
Concept and context are not mutually exclusive. For instance, Vladimir Putin’s ideological visions. If you look at them from a conceptual perspective, he has a traditional mindset. That is not only clear, but in concept it is very close to the mindset of conservatives in America. Most of us feel very passionately about the history of our country, as well as the values of liberty and justice for all — as we should!
Both share a traditionalist morality not in context, but in concept. Traditional Russian values in context are very different than traditional American values. But in concept, from the frame of view that society has grown away from its culture’s core values, it is not a difficult or dishonest position to understand.
The context associative to Putin’s concept, however, is where the brutality is found. Perhaps the idea of waging bloody war on a society’s sociopolitical rivals is incomprehensible to us, or perhaps it is not. Many in America over the past few years have been almost glorifying the idea of a violent revolution here. That idea is no less shortsighted and destructive to our American concept as it is to Putin’s, and to the Russian people at large.
The concept doesn’t justify the invasion of a sovereign country. It doesn’t justify the bombing of their cities. It certainly doesn’t justify the murdering of their citizens. One can and should be able to both understand the concept and take issue with the context. They are not mutually exclusive.
In my opinion, this goes back to the absolutes we become glued to within sociopolitical narratives. There seems to be an opinion that because Ukraine’s leadership was politically loyal to democrats, the whole of Ukraine should reap what they sow. This is such an asinine perspective on its face, that becomes even more mind-blowing when you consider it is the same logic so often used here in the US — by the same exact people.
Consider a statement we’ve all heard, and many who will read this have said: “California deserves what it voted for.” (That is just one of the more common examples). Again, absolutism — as if the entire population of California voted for either the policies or their government. However, if that is assumed to be an appropriate relation, then all Americans are responsible for the Biden administration, because that is what we all voted for.
The entire population of Ukraine, or even Russia for that matter, are not responsible for the whole of their sociopolitical dogmas on either end; and, neither’s entire population deserves the death and damage being caused to them. Just as the entire population of the United States is not responsible for the sociopolitical dogmas that exist at our fringes. Not all conservatives are “insurrectionists,” just as not all liberals are Antifa/BLM “terrorists.”
But all of us, the fringes included, want the same fundamental things. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These simple but clearly very fragile ideals are at the core of who we are. They are the very birth of our nation, and the ideals that have carried us through every challenge, every ugly tragedy, every divisive set of absolute ideals we have faced as a society.
It is from that lens that I am so disheartened and confused by the ends of our society which seem to make-diminutive the suffering, the death, and the destruction of the Ukrainian people and their entire communities. No matter what political narratives those people personally adhere to.
I have yet to hear a reasonable argument against my logic regarding this. If the argument is 26 biolabs in Ukraine, I ask where your concern has been (for decades) over the thousands of biolabs right here in the United States? More than likely, you live less than 50 miles from one (or several). Also consider that in Putin’s own long-winded essay about his reasons for annexing Ukraine, he never once mentions these labs. This is a classic red herring being propagated by the Kremlin, because they know how sensitive the subject is to most Americans even across the political aisle. It is an easy play on our emotions, and far too many are taking the bait.
If the argument is a fear of conflict-escalation, which is not an unreasonable concern, I ask you what exactly it is you’ve meant by the “pussification” of America the past several years? Are you now not exemplifying that? Is the human condition of your paranoia somehow different than the human condition of the paranoia of those where that term is traditionally directed at? And when did we become so afraid of leading the world — leading through adversity, and most importantly — leading from an example of liberty?
The media lies. The government lies. FFS, nearly every human being lies. When lies are spread so freely and prolifically, it is natural to be skeptical of motives. Skepticism and denial are two very different products of doubt, however. When did we stop believing our own eyes? Arguably more frightening, when did it become acceptable to place human dignity after and only first conditional upon motive? Consider the southern border. Some of those crossing the border have a legitimate motive. Many do not. But all should be treated with dignity while being either processed legally or deported quickly. Most Americans seem to pick only one side of the argument, though, either human dignity or legal accountability. Both are important if one’s desire to understand and confront the situation is reasonably objective and seeks to be sustainable for the greater good.
I will argue political motives and ideals all day. I can do it very well, and I can do it from both sides of the argument. Devil’s advocate, while very uncomfortable, is the only way to be truly objective. If you want to get as near as you can to the truth, which is almost always moving relative to time and causation, you can only do so by making yourself uncomfortable.
I can share dozens, maybe hundreds of photos and videos with you from the Russian side of this battle. It looks much the same as those I have shared on social media from the Ukrainian side. Flag-waving. Twisted metal. Death. The dark humor that adrenaline requires to stay alive. It is all there to see, and I have shared dozens of sources to it. But why would I share that content directly? How does glorifying the Russian military or their government’s decisions make the effects of their cause any more or less true? They invaded a sovereign county, and are destroying their cities by shelling their civilian populations into bloody rubble.
There is no pursuit of happiness there. There is no liberty there. There is no life there. Those things are engraved in our nation’s birth because they are first a part of the human condition we share. If we cannot first stand for those ideals as people, how will we ever again be able to stand for them as a collective nation?
I don’t want to see my country’s youth die in a bloody war, but what lessons have we learned from history about how far genocidal tyrants will go if they are not stopped as early as possible? How many Slavs, Poles, Germans, French, Persians, Italians (and many more) were slaughtered in the 19-year reign of Attila the Hun? How many Chinese, Persians, Indians, and Slavs were slaughtered in the 21-year reign of Genghis Khan? what about Timur, who led a 35-year reign through a large part of western Asia, including modern Iran, to Syria. In present-day Afghanistan, he ordered the construction of a tower made out of living men, one stacked on top of another and cemented together. He also ordered a massacre to punish a rebellion and had 70,000 heads built up into minarets.
In 1917, Vladimir Lenin led the October Revolution to overturn the provisional government that had overthrown the czar. During this period of revolution, war and famine, Lenin demonstrated a chilling disregard for the suffering of his fellow countrymen and mercilessly crushed any opposition to it. Joseph Stalin’s ideals caused mass starvation, the imprisonment of millions of people in labor camps, and the ‘Great Purge’ of the intelligentsia, the government and the armed forces.
I don’t need to detail the horrific damage, destruction, and death that Adolph Hitler caused the world. Many would have been saved if we acted sooner, including American lives lost while confronting an enemy that had ample time to expand, multiply, and fortify their positions.
We are at a dangerous and pivotal moment in our history. We are at another intersection in history with a savage tyrant who has no regard for the consequences of his actions. No regard for liberty. No regard for human life. I hope we can find the courage, the strength, and the resolve that generations before us exhibited in order that liberty for the free world was saved forward. If for nothing else, the human dignity of life itself. I feel like we have no room to praise our own principled roots if we so passively feel like those basic human values are not appropriate for the Ukrainian people as well. We might as well recycle our soapbox and just continue to electronically virtue-signal principles that contain a meaning we aren’t truly convicted to.
I urge the frayed ends of our society to consider the further damage that is done by negating all truths in order to call attention to those few things that are distinctly untrue, or in most cases simply incomplete. Disbelief of everything you are told is just as dogmatic as believing everything you are told. That is not skepticism, it is paranoia at the least, bordering denial.
There is time to save Ukraine, just as there is time to save the ideals of our American republic domestically. The work is in the middle. That is the only way we get it done with any integrity at all. It’s not easy. Our founding fathers, through the rigorous debates between the passionately-divided Federalists and the Anti-Federalists, would certainly attest to that. But mostly, and most importantly, they proved it can be done and tremendous things can be realized for that effort.
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