The world has always been divided into two groups of people: the ones who take action and those who sit on the sidelines. I call it the great perceptual divide. The divide has always been there but the war in Ukraine has made it much bigger. Let’s take a closer look at both groups.
Group one: apathy
The first group suffers from learned helplessness. Bombarded by images of genocide and destruction, the members of this group are upset, because the status quo is no more. Normalcy bias is a powerful psychological defense and these people just want to go back to business as usual. They are locked in their bubbles and don’t want to hear more about the war because it upsets their view of the world. These people are like zombies who do the same thing every day without giving it a second thought. They don’t want to hear anything about Ukraine, they don’t care about Ukraine. In fact, the whole war makes them angry because their energy bills have skyrocketed. I’ve even noticed some people in this group are envious of the attention Ukrainian refugees are getting. They are the centrists and relativists who think neutrality and negotiations solve every problem in the world.
“The Ukrainian government is killing its people by fighting Russia. It should negotiate with Russia. Every nation has their truth. Propaganda is on both sides.” At best, it’s stupidity, selfishness and apathy. At worst – psychopathy. Celebrities aren’t immune to Russian propaganda, either. A famous musician, who shall remain nameless, keeps telling Ukraine to negotiate. I wonder if he says it because he means well in his own misguided way or he just wants to go back to business as usual with Russia? Maybe he needs more money for his lavish lifestyle.
Group two: action
The second group has been jolted into action by the war. The members of this group are active on several fronts: social media, writing articles, personal lives, even as volunteers facing the enemy directly in battle. People from all walks of life who didn’t imagine themselves as soldiers several months ago. Indeed, many have already laid down their lives for freedom, trying to stop the Russian horde. They know Ukraine is fighting for all of us. By “all of us,” I mean the civilized world that strives to respect the value of human rights. If Ukraine hadn’t stood up to Russian aggression, there would have been Z-tanks rolling on the streets of Warsaw months ago and I would have ended up in a mass grave. I wish I was being dramatic but I’m just telling you the terrible truth. In his newest article, Polish President Andrzej Duda writes about Russia yearning for its former “glory.” In a twisted Russian mindset, anyone who resists russification is a Nazi deserving of death. Even better if it’s an agonizing, humiliating death. Our way of life is in danger. It’s no longer a hypothetical, academic argument. The enemy is here. The second group understands this and is willing to do whatever it takes to protect freedom and human rights.
Genocide haunts humanity
Every time genocide happens somewhere in the world, the international community condemns it and vows to stop it from happening ever again. Sadly, genocide isn’t going anywhere. Some say the global government could stop it. Yeah, okay. Don’t kid yourselves. The best we can hope for is keeping our eyes open and letting the world know that genocide either is happening or is about to happen. Dehumanization of groups and nations is a major warning sign that we’re dealing with the first stages of genocide.
The term genocide was coined by Raphael Lemkin, a Polish-Jewish lawyer. Several decades and countless condemnations later, the specter of genocide is still haunting humanity.
A bullet to the head and getting dumped in a ditch like unwanted animals. This is Russian “liberation.” What’s happening in Ukraine now mirrors the fate of the Polish officers and Polish intelligentsia murdered in Katyn. The Poles were “liberated” by Soviet Russia in 1940. Regimes always target intelligentsia first because that social class poses the biggest threat to invaders. Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia had detailed kill lists when they invaded Poland. Teachers, priests, businessmen, lawyers, doctors. The Soviets, in particular, hated any kind of culture. Sounds scarily familiar? It should.
Russia doesn’t really see Poland as a sovereign state. Then why does Russia celebrate Unity Day on November 4, commemorating the popular uprising which expelled Polish-Lithuanian occupation forces from Moscow in 1612? Did a fictional state stop the Bolshevik horde in 1920, pushing it back to Russia? I call Russia the biggest gaslighter nation on the planet. What is gaslighting? It’s a subtle form of manipulation to undermine someone’s sense of self. Russia is doing just that, except on a much bigger scale, of course. When the fictional state narrative doesn’t seem to work, Russia turns to the Second World War and accuses Poland of starting it. Poland has resisted russification for hundreds of years. Clearly, we need to be urgently denazified. Someone, somewhere is going to buy into the propaganda. Someone, somewhere has just been brainwashed to see Poland as another country to be denazified.
Russian elites know this whole denazification rhetoric is tragicomical. They throw the word “Nazi” around for propaganda purposes. If Russia says it, then it must be true! How romantic. Sadly, there’s no shortage of idiots in the world who believe Russia is all about ballet. Show them YouTube videos from Izyum and they’ll say it’s a … deepfake. When I come across Russia enthusiasts, I ask them three questions: “Do you speak Russian? Have you ever been to Russia? If you’re a Russia lover, why don’t you just move there?” Sure, some speak excellent Russian. Some. Most can’t string a sentence together. Most will never move to Russia. I guess they don’t want to spoil their ridiculously romanticized view of the country.
When I look at the Red Square military parades and see soldiers marching as one, girls with white ribbons in their hair marching as one, I wonder: “What are they thinking? Are they really that brainwashed?” Even if God wanted to give me a chance to take part in that parade so I could see exactly how they think, I would respectfully decline the offer. I value my own mind too much. Knowing exactly how they think would be like looking into a serial killer’s mind.
While I don’t know what Russian invaders in Ukraine are thinking, I can guess. It seems to me that think-tank analysts and policymakers fail to see the importance of Russian women. When a woman tells her man, be it husband or boyfriend, to bring her a severed head as a trophy, clearly something is wrong with this picture. Did I unknowingly cross over to some horror show dimension?
How can anyone with a modicum of intelligence want the world to be controlled by Russia and China? I know there’s tremendous support for Russia in Africa. Hardly surprising. African nations have been terribly mistreated by the West. They harbor resentment. I get it. Sadly, they are going to be deeply disappointed when they see the true face of Russia and China. Yes, the US has flaws. Is the US a selfish empire? Sure. Every empire has its cold calculations. Still, the world controlled by Russia and the CCP would be a global gulag. All these Dugin-praising multipolar world enthusiasts would be begging for the US to be the global policeman again.
Some people in the world don’t want to hear anything about genocide. They don’t care about Ukraine. In fact, Ukraine irritates them. They just want to be entertained. Hitler supposedly said, “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” Sadly, Hitler was right. Putin wants the world to forget about Ukraine. As long as the world is watching, he can’t murder millions of “Nazis” in Ukraine.
Germany, the birthplace of actual Nazism, is flirting with Russia again. As a Pole, I know it’s a bad sign. I sometimes wonder what the world would have looked like had the Morgenthau Plan to demilitarize and partition Germany into three been implemented after World War II.
I doubt an organization that fails to pay its interns is a reliable partner on the world stage. I understand the UN is a huge organization and you need to go through endless red-tape to get anything done. Still, it’s been years and there’s no change on the horizon. I remember reading about interns sleeping in tents. Is this what equality and diversity look like these days? Quoting Joe Biden is appropriate here, “Come on, man!” Even the Bible says, “By their deeds you shall know them.” So no, don’t count on the UN to save the world. I don’t doubt there are well-meaning diplomats and politicians working for the UN. Idealists who want to change the world. But it doesn’t take long for idealists to turn into cynics simmering with anger, smiling through gritted teeth. This is the only way to get ahead in the political snake pit. To be clear, psychopathic traits like confidence, charm and adaptability are vital in politics. Good leaders need a healthy dose of psychopathic traits. It pays to have a flexible, malleable mind. As Bruce Lee said, “Be water, my friend.” Rigid thinking is the downfall of leaders. Total psychopaths, on the other hand, make terrible leaders because they are completely selfish.
Ukraine gains much more by having powerful allies like Elon Musk and Richard Branson. They provide practical help and guidance. Organizations with nebulous and unattainable goals like the UN need a year to wade through bureaucracy before making a simple decision. And in the war with Russia, even a week can make all the difference.
We need a Ukrainian Starlink. What do I mean by that? Bear with me. Have you ever had an idea that slipped your mind because you couldn’t write it down anywhere? And even when you did write it down, what then? Startups take time to set up. You get discouraged and throw your world-changing idea into the trash can. You have bills to pay and no time for entrepreneurship. We need a platform that would be like a marketplace of ideas for all of us, not just for people with access to the rich and powerful. Let’s say a poor farmer in India has a brilliant idea. Sadly, he isn’t well-connected. He doesn’t know what to do with his idea, so he just forgets about it. Now, if he could upload his idea to the digital marketplace, it might turn out someone in Ukraine has another idea which works beautifully with the farmer’s idea. And that’s how a global exchange of ideas could lead to great changes. So many ideas are wasted every day. I look at the names of Ukrainian heroes sometimes. I read their biographies. Philologists, philosophers, educated people who could change the world. But they’re gone. Russian barbarians have killed them. Dumped them in a ditch.
I know it won’t be easy to turn my idea into reality but I truly believe Ukraine has the freshness of mind to do it. Call it my contribution to the cause of freedom.
I sincerely hope Ukrainian victory ushers in a new era, taking humanity in the direction of a truly global civilization where wars are remnants of the tribal past. Sadly, we won’t make it if imperialistic Russia keeps threatening everyone with nukes. Why? Because it can.
Based in Warsaw, Adam Borowski is a journalist specializing in international relations. He has written articles for major South Korean and Taiwanese news outlets and is the author of a yet-to-be-published novel set in an alternate reality, “Euthanizers.” Adam is a global traveler who worked in Chengdu, China.
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