In January 2017, I realized that I had been so wrapped up in the chaos and emotions of Trump’s election that I had stopped paying attention to the horrors of the siege of Aleppo, which finally ended in December 2016. Now we are witnessing the same horrors being inflicted on the people of Ukraine, on an even larger scale. At times it seems to me that Putin is trying to finish Stalin’s project of genocide against the Ukrainian people. A statue of a starving child stands at the entrance to the memorial park in Kyiv, at least for the moment.
In terms of my personal history, I feel the same awful helplessness to stop the war that I felt during Vietnam. I’m not saying that there’s nothing we can do to help the victims of this war. We are going to have to do a lot, and sacrifice a lot, in the months and years ahead to help not only the Ukrainians, but all the people who are suffering from the wars around the world, such as Yemen, Somalia, and Burma. I also know that the anti-war protests in this country helped shorten the war in Vietnam. So I embrace those brave Russians who are risking more than we ever did to stop their country’s aggression.
But still there was so much death and dying in Indochina and will be in Ukraine, Yemen, Somalia, and Burma. So I feel like Jean Amery who envied the believers among his fellow inmates in a Nazi concentration camp. He envied the theists who trusted in the Second Coming when their tormentors will be judged and punished. And the Marxist true believers who trusted that the laws of history would bring the final battle promised in the Internationale. It helps me to listen to the songs of judgment that I’ve blogged about before, like “When the man comes around” and Dies Irae. For Buddhists, there is always karma. Like beliefs of Amery’s fellows, karma just takes too long.