Politics

Lise Ravary: Would we be as courageous as the Ukrainians?


I would like to think so, but I’m not sure. Meanwhile, we sit riveted to our screens.

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“War (huh, yeah) what is good for? Absolutely nothing.”

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— Edwin Starr

The song War was first recorded by R&B legends The Temptations in 1970 but Motown, their label, refused to release it, fearing it would upset conservative fans.

Instead, singer Edwin Starr made it an international hit. Written to denounce the Vietnam War, it remains one of the most played and covered anti-war songs. Even Springsteen recorded it.

Seven words that say it all as we sit riveted to our screens, trying to understand why the horrors of war have descended upon the Ukrainian people, who did nothing to deserve such inhumane, unjust punishment from Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

The outpouring of moral support for Ukraine has been swift — no pun intended — and widespread. In downtown Montreal, people stood in the cold to express how they feel about the invasion. Similar images are seen around the world.

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There are more good people on this Earth than bad ones. In times of peril, it is vital to remember that.

And then there are those who, not knowing what they don’t know, make fools of themselves by commenting on a conflict they don’t understand between countries they know little about.

Last week, union official Bernard (Rambo) Gauthier, the organizer of the Freedom Convoy events in Quebec City wrote this on social media: “When I saw all the people with their Ukrainian flag on their Facebook profile page, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Did they worry about us who have been discriminated against for a year? People who were my friends did not realize all I lived through because I am not vaccinated.”

There are also people who say that the bloodied Ukrainians we see in the media are actors; in a tweet Sunday, Tout le monde en parle host Guy A. Lepage criticized those who would make such offensive claims.

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A (less than) honourable mention goes to Marlene Jennings, who, in a tweet now deleted, appeared to compare the threat to democracy in Ukraine with Quebec’s language-law revision, Bill 96.

Obviously, people like Gauthier who claim that Canadians live under the jackboot of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau can’t see how misguided, how ignorant they are. I’ll ask this question one more time: What happened to the billions of dollars we invest in education? Canada is the world’s most educated country based on recent OECD data!

A better entry on social media shows a doctored image of Putin, Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, Xi Jinping of China and Kim Jong-un of North Korea with the message “we offer political asylum to Quebecers who wish to escape from dictatorship.” It’s good to laugh when times are tough. Humour has the power to protect sanity, even at a time when we face a situation that also brings the threat of a third world war.

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Out of this mess, a light shines through: the astonishing courage of the Ukrainian people. If a calamity of this magnitude was to befall our country, would our men, young and old, leave their families to fight, with Molotov cocktails, an enemy a thousand times stronger?

I would like to think so, but I’m not sure.

Internationalists who believe that nationalism is evil, that borders, cultures and languages should disappear to allow humanity to wallow in faceless homogeneity should watch the Ukrainians defend their nation, their homeland, against annihilation. They are fighting fearlessly with heart, courage and dignity.

For all of our sophisticated thinking, advanced technology and compassionate civilization, none of us are 100 per cent safe from aggression. If ever attacked, I hope we would have the good sense to learn from the Ukrainians.

lravary@yahoo.com

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