Photo credit: Bilozerska.info
If somehow you haven’t noticed – it’s finally spring. Even up here in the Northeast. The forsythia and early daffodils are finally giving way to the flowering fruit trees and even a tulip or two. The lawns of suburialand are that perfect, spring green. Not quite kelly green. But that crisper green that eventually gives way to the deeper, summer green. If you walk around the neighborhood without your AirPods – and really look – you’ll see it.
So yes – it’s spring. But far away from my greening landscape is another one. It’s spring there also. We can tell from the live shots. The trees leafing out around the horribly gray, bombed and shelled-out buildings. Spring in the land Russia’s Vladimir Putin is trying to obliterate in the name of recreating the Czarist Russian empire he alone yearns for. Spring in the destroyed land where so many Ukrainians have already died, where so many lives have been unalterably changed, where so many futures have been destroyed. Where the bombs and shells just keep falling.
Does anyone else here in our comfortable America feel as guilty as I do? Walking every day in the warming beauty of Spring, hearing the birds singing and calling to each other to mate and produce the next generation? There will be no bombs to frighten them away or pulverize them in their nests. As always, spring will just slowly turn to summer here – with its more mature beauty. Yes there will be storms and localized floods – even tornados and later, hurricanes. But they will be random – with no pre-programmed, evil intent to destroy an entire people and its country.
How can I immerse myself joyfully in the annual ritual of spring when on the TV each morning and evening, or streaming from my phone or tablet are those searing images from Ukraine?
How can I smell the young grass and the blossoming trees and rejoice in their colors after the drab gray winter when I see the still gray, pulverized city of Mariupol? When I think of the people who used to live there, in a then modern city quite similar to ours here? And who are now dead or gravely wounded or forever traumatized by Putin’s marauding, undisciplined army of unschooled Russian conscripts?
And so for me at least – this is a very different spring. One in which I constantly ask myself and anyone else who will listen – how can so-called human beings, the ones who power our Western world, have allowed all this to happen? How could they have been unable or unwilling to stop Putin’s medieval siege and blockade of Mariupol and its last holdouts in the steel factory on its outskirts? For Ukraine it’s far too late now to even care about the answers of course. Mariupol is finished and – tragically – the last-ditch defenders left in the steel factory nearly so. But still – I care. I need to know. Because even if spring still comes every year – one year it may be OUR cities demolished, OUR citizens killed. By some undisciplined army, led by some other megalomaniac. Drunk on ancient visions of glory. Green shoots in front of OUR pulverized buildings.
Remember – almost no one thought it could happen to Ukraine either.