The people of Ukraine are on my mind a lot these days. We Americans have no idea what they are going through, and likely never will. Most of us can’t be bothered to care. And it shows.
Imagine this. You’re sitting in your living room, doing your thing, minding your own business, harming no one, when you hear explosions in the distance. And those explosions come closer and closer and closer. You look out the window and see the images below (which are actual photos of what is going on in Ukraine even as you read this.)
As you realize that there are people coming who want to kill you, you give up your entire life in an instant. You know you won’t be going to work tomorrow, dropping the kids off at school, visiting the local market, or returning books to the public library. All these things, your routine, your method of living, are gone.
Your hierarchy of needs gets stripped down to the basics. How will I get food and water? How do we stay warm once the electricity goes out? How will I keep my family safe? What about all the other loved ones who are scattered throughout the country? How do I gain access to my money? What do I do about my dog?
You do have a few options. You could evacuate. This would mean leaving behind your home and all your possessions to GTFO. And odds are there will be looting and bombing and you’ll lose everything. That, and many of the roads are closed. The airport is definitely closed. And where will you go and what will you do if you have to abandon your job?
You could also sign up to defend this beloved country of yours, with its government that you helped elect. But you’ve never held a gun in your life. And your enemy is about 1000 times more equipped than your country could ever hope to be. No other countries are willing to step in and help you out. Deep down, you know it’s just a matter of time before your world is occupied by an invader that wants you dead, and nothing will ever be the same again.
Of course, you could choose to stand by and do nothing and hope you aren’t killed, and hope your home remains intact. Hope you’re not tortured. Hope you don’t starve. Hope you wake up and find that this is all a bad dream.
No matter what you decide to do, this is bigger than you. It’s beyond your control. That’s it. You’re done. Just like that.
Meanwhile, we Americans sit in front of our televisions, secure in the knowledge that we don’t share a border with a country that’s more powerful than we are, and it’s a safe bet that we never will. We’re also pretty confident that tanks will never roll past our houses, and if we hear an explosion in the distance, it’s most likely a transformer that was struck by lightning, or a pesky teenager shooting off illegal fireworks.
Most of us will never be surrounded by total strangers who are intent upon our demise. With a few rare and horrifying exceptions, no one is trying to kill us at all. Our democracy may be circling the drain, but that’s our own doing. In fact, when there actually is an insurrection in an attempt to overthrow our elected government, most of us can’t be bothered to take it seriously. It feels like a mere gnat that is jumping around at the periphery of our vision. A nuisance. We’re just too big to fail. So the perpetrators of that insurrection don’t even get a slap on the hand, despite all the footage of the violence, destruction, and death.
The odds are pretty darned excellent that the majority of us will never have to leave our entire lives in the dust with no notice whatsoever. The majority of us will not have to dig foxholes and hunker down and prepare to kill another human being for the first time in our lives.
Our biggest concern is how inconvenienced we are by the concept of wearing masks and getting vaccinations so that our loved ones might survive. Many of us can’t be bothered to make that sacrifice. Oh, no. We’re too busy anxiously awaiting the results of the fantasy football game we’re engaged in. We can’t raise our eyes from Wordle long enough to even open the door when the neighbor comes by to borrow jumper cables. We don’t even know their name. Don’t know, don’t care.
Do I think this blog post will make a difference? Not at all. I write it in hopes that some future historian might stumble upon it and realize that we did see what was happening. We just couldn’t suffer the massive inconvienience of doing anything about it. Shame on us.
Relatively speaking, the average American is so fat with entitlement that they could probably make foie gras from their own livers. But I suspect that it wouldn’t taste very good.