Feeling Grateful

A woman walks outside the damaged by shelling maternity hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

If you’re like me, every so often you’ll find a nice graphic image in your Facebook feed, listing reasons why people like you and me should feel grateful:

  • Because we have a roof over our heads and clothes on our backs
  • Because our children have enough to eat
  • Because we fall asleep in a warm bed
  • Because we have a job to go back to tomorrow … and next week, next month
  • Because we and our loved ones can look forward to tomorrow after tomorrow free of want and free of fear

Also, if you’re like me, every so often you’ll turn on the TV or scroll through your news feed and see heartbreaking photos — like the ones just below — of a town somewhere in America’s Midwest after a tornado has just ripped through. These are images not just of shattered homes and towns, but of lifetimes, hopes and dreams torn to shreds … reduced to rubble.

Tornado Alley (above and below)

Finally, if you’re like me, you’ll remember images like those just above, as you look at photos from half a world away — from Ukraine. In those images you’ll see shattered lives, hopes and dreams that look nearly indistinguishable from what we’ve all seen in Tornado Alley.

Ukraine (above and below)

But Ukraine’s devastation is not indistinguishable from what we’re accustomed to in places like Oklahoma, Minnesota and elsewhere across the Midwest.

What’s the difference? The heartbreak we witness from time to time in our own country is the result of Mother Nature’s fury. What we are witnessing today in Ukraine results from the fury of one incalculably evil man, the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin.

There’s another difference between the destruction we see every so often in the Midwest and what we’re now seeing every day in Ukraine.

In Kansas, for example, tornados hit, but calm soon returns. Neighbors help; people start rebuilding.

Across Ukraine, however, Russian bombs, rockets and shells keep raining down, hour after hour, day after day, week after week. It’s been over a month now. Neighbors can’t be of much help. The bombs are targeting them too. The lucky ones manage — usually with great difficulty (and just a suitcase or two of their most important possessions) — to escape to Poland or other neighboring countries. The unlucky ones are blown to shreds as they try to flee. Even the lucky ones endure lines at the border crossings that dwarf anything you or I will ever experience in a crowded airport, even one temporarily shut down by a blizzard.

So, if you’re like me, I hope you’ll count your blessings. And do what you can to send help to the refugees. If you’re lucky enough to encounter any, please welcome them into your community. A little human kindness goes a long way.

One final note about refugees. Not everyone fleeing this war is Ukrainian. Some are Russians who are disgusted by the outrages being perpetrated by their president and who also despair of regaining the freedom and democracy he has long been squeezing out of life in Russia. Many of them — often their best and brightest — are also choosing exile. Let’s welcome them too.

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