For the People of Ukraine
By Leila Baez / Matthew staff || Edited by Julissa Castro-Ruiz
These are moments where I feel a bittersweet luckiness to still be living in a land of opportunity. The opportunity to observe the world from hundreds of channels, dozens of news stations. Each one contains different perspectives, values, and opinions disguised as fact. But, within the past two weeks, there has been one topic all headlines seem to share a solemn bond on: Ukraine.
They call it the situation. They only use terms like invasion, war, or the slaughtering of innocents in search of whatever Vladmir Putin actually desires, when that section of news broadcasts on-screen. The lines of every reporter are the same, like they all worked as a group for a project they were instructed to do individually. Carbon copies with a couple altered words in each sentence, perhaps the order in which they disclose the information is different, but the message is the same.
There has not been an invasion of this scale in Europe since World War II. Some flee the city, even the country, for their lives. Others huddle in rundown metro stations, makeshift bomb shelters. Others join ragtag militias, orders call for any men 18 and older with the capability to fight. Soldiers in the making that do not fit that description stay behind anyway with their men, their city, their country. On the 6:30 p.m. ABC News, a 50 year-old Ukrainian policeman officially came out of retirement. He placed a hunting rifle in his van, anything to aid the cause.
Men file out of stations with used bulletproof vests and hold whatever guns they own. They have homemade Molotovs and melee weapons. Viewers imagine these fathers and sons going up against Russian tanks and aggressors with burning glass and barbed wire wrapped bats once their limited ammunition runs out. Russian airstrikes assure supplies are limited.
Airstrikes are shrill to the ears, sickening to the soul. The aftermath is unimaginable until it occurs. Food markets, schools, hospitals, apartment complexes. Those are the targets. Civilians are caught in the crosshairs, human beings hunted down. When smoke clears, those brave enough inspect the damage step through rubble blackened to a crisp by the missiles. It is hard to imagine how hope survives.
Hope. That is what still lives in the eyes and souls of these people. Alongside fear, pain and loss, there is hope. There is fight, a perseverance, aurating off of them in beautiful blue and yellow droves. The blue of sparkling sky they reach for. The yellow of their golden spirits. Those like myself can do nothing but watch, pray in whatever way any denominations we say we align ourselves with allow us. We stare into screens we are lucky to have, and hold onto loved ones we are lucky to sit beside, and hope beyond hope that they too will be able to fight, survive, and one day enter a time when they will do the same. We convey our solidarity with the people of Ukraine.