UNITED IN HUMANITY AND NON-VIOLENCE

At the moment when on a daily basis we hear stories about the armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine, instead of taking sides and making this conflict even worse, we decided to bring you a human perspective to this. Wars and violent conflict have never brought anything good to anyone, they only brought suffering and trauma to all living beings affected by them.

Our members from Russia and Ukraine decided to share their personal view on this issue, and go beyond politics and seek for humanity and a non-violent response.

(Russian member of the YPAN)
“As being a Russian passport holder I always feel myself responsible for the things connected with Russian politics. But I can’t really influence it. Sorry.

I remember in 2014 I was passing by one children’s playground. There was nothing special in it. But the dialogue between 2 boys around 6 years old is still in my ears: they were talking about war. The real war, not the one shown in films. I know boys often play mock battles at this age, but it was not a game — they were discussing what happens with them and their families if the US army attacks Russia. One of the boys said that his granddad died during World War II and he is afraid to lose his father. But the other answered that most of children will bury their fathers, but anyway it worth it as otherwise all Russia will be bombed.

I know it may sound surrealistic as in the narratives of many communities and societies Russia is considered as the root of aggression. But believe me — Russian people are not getting high when they think about war. We are also afraid of it, and according to all surveys it is one of the top fears.

The main problem of any fear is that it can be easily manipulated. I thought COVID changes the situation in a positive way: we as humanity would struggle together against the problem that unites us, but it didn’t happen. So now we are: separated, manipulated, full of fears plus in distance.

Today in 2022 it seems we are again in a step to war. The war in which some politicians get their benefits and satisfaction, but all other people, despite their nationality, citizenship, age, gender, interests, and values will lose.

The truth is that, I can’t say that the topic of war itself is widely discussed in Russian Mass Media these days. All titles depict and describe Russia-US and Russia-EU relations and its perspectives in case of the conflict. And I believe that the same situation is in the Mass Media of other countries. I mean in the modern world we are discussing war as a chess play and everyone is making bets on who will make the checkmate.

Come on, war is not a play! Even small children understand that. It is ruining lives even of those people who had never seen it personally. And again, I have no super power to move the Russian army away from the borders of the conflict areas (though I wish I had it). But I know that if each of us will change the narrative of war as a game to concrete stories of people who became victims of those political plays we will be able to change the situation in the future. Peace is the result of detoxification from the discourse of war and it can’t be obtained till we stop mixing humans with figures on the chess board.

As for now I can only hope that this checkmate will be made without the use of the real weapon.“

(Ukrainian member of the YPAN)

“In the last few days, I have seen a lot of different (not necessarily accurate) information circulating in the media — both about the overall conflict dynamics between Ukraine and Russia and about specific aspects of it. I have also seen this chaos traumatize the people I know and care about (and myself too). I feel devastated and do not want to see anyone being scared for their immediate future and living the present in constant fear of another instance of conflict escalation. At the moment, peace may seem far away. However, we have the tools to bring it about quickly and effectively, and I need people to realize that the tools are there — available to be used. They vary from top-level Minsk agreements, which I request all signatories and otherwise involved to follow, to everyday peacebuilding strategies. As for the latter, I ask the readers of this message to commit to the following: a) non-violent communication across divides, b) checking sources of information and any possible agendas behind that before information is further shared, c) checking on your loved ones and whoever else you can check on regardless of your relationships, d) checking how you can support local and national peacebuilding efforts and do whatever you have the capacity to do, e) design plans to be safe wherever you may be in case of emergency, and f) choose peace. The list is incomplete and may be adapted to many different circumstances, but these are just a few things I have recently felt people struggle with. Personally, I have responded to recent escalations by starting new local peacebuilding efforts and hope to contribute to there being more peace.”

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