a Kind of Refugee / 13.09.2022
To the Ukrainian diaspora and Ukraine supporters abroad, whatever your reasons or persuasion:
Please keep fighting, speaking publicly—and to each other! I’ve had the pleasure of talking to many of you over the past few weeks—some old friends, some new—and a recurring theme I’ve noticed is a sense of loneliness. Yes, I understand now what it feels like to be crying and rooting for Ukraine from afar, in a sea of Americans (or fill in the blank), who aren’t living this war minute by minute, who have other concerns (which may seem or actually be petty) at the top of their minds.
But guess what, that is what true solidarity feels like. It’s not about latching on to somebody else’s heroism or attaching yourself to the “good fight” because you know it’s the “right side” in this historical moment. Solidarity happens when your commitment is personal and clear and you may be so busy doing whatever you can to help Ukraine (or fill in the blank) that you hardly have time to check in with your friends or compatriots who are equally busy doing all that they do to help Ukraine (or see above). But you know that they are there. And the loneliness you feel as you face the world (and the enemy) from your individual position is the reality of leaving space between you and the other with whom you are in solidarity. We needn’t stick together like a bundle of rods—that’s fascis, the root of fascism.
Know that your thoughts, words, and actions matter. Yes, Ukraine’s brilliant successes in sending russian forces scattering from the Kharkiv region are the result of a brilliantly planned military strategy executed perfectly by tens of thousands of courageous, dedicated soldiers. But this glory would not have come to pass were it not for everything that you—and we together—have been doing.
I want to write about the Ukrainian language, which is growing richer and firmer as more and more people speak it every day, and about how more people speaking the language imperfectly actually increases its viability and power.
But I’m getting on an airplane day after tomorrow and don’t know when I’ll have the chance to sit at the computer and put the words together.
Please wish me a soft landing on the other side of the ocean. Your hugs and attention and sweet gifts of time by the water and in the woods, dinners, dancing, listening and sharing have kept me grounded and energized.
We will win this war!
Love and fortitude,