James Ryer :: Commentary on the State of Western Democracy – A Visually Sensory Essay ::


Southern Legitimacy Statement: I have almost exclusively lived in the South. The earlier part of that time was still the Old South: segregation, before the Civi Rights legislation of 1960 and 1964, before there was any real sense of diversity in your daily life. Only recently was the Civil War monument moved from the center of my city’s downtown to a less conspicuous location. Still, there has been noticeable progress in the quest for equality. I have seen that the moral arc of the universe is indeed long, but I have also seen that it is being bent toward justice.

Commentary on the State of Western Democracy – A Visually Sensory Essay

Bright flames of fire flickering within thick black columns of smoke inside 
the bombed-out, bare concrete walls of faceless buildings 

Unrecognizable city streets lined with gutted apartment buildings
Many reduced to rubble and strewn with charred personal belongings
Lives thrown into chaos, broken bodies laying crumpled on the ground

Is it simply collateral damage when there is no distinction between military and civilian targets

People standing dazed and frozen amid the ruins of their shattered former existence 

Weary refugees fleeing the horror on overcrowded train cars
A hand-drawn heart on the train’s humid window glass
A woman and child on the inside looking out
A husband, now charged with taking up arms, bravely waving goodbye

Rusting tanks and burned-out cars cast about like abstract art

Massive amounts of debris, shards of wood, people sifting through the debris for remnants of their former existence

The smells of gun powder, food cooking, dankness, smoke and soot, 
and raw sewage

The multitude of random dead - soldiers and civilians, pools of dried blood, alone a child  stands grasping a stuffed animal to their chest, the old man lying dead on his bicycle 

Workers in bright-white hazmat suits collecting scores of the dead in black body bags

A massive pile of discharged artillery shells beside a damaged U.S. Army Howitzer

The bright red fingernails on the now gray fingers of a woman lying dead in the mud

Candles with flickering flames lighting churches and small fires for personal comfort

The ceaseless ear splitting concussion of bombs exploding - the low whir of drones - the silence of the intervals in the fighting - children crying loudly - grandmothers sobbing softly at a grandson’s grave - young children with fear induced mutism 

Vivid markers of war - stray dogs turning feral and trees full of crows

A single makeshift grave with a simply constructed blue cross and fistful of fresh yellow flowers
“Sláva Ukrayíni” the Ukrainian citizens say - Glory to Ukraine! 
The phrase has undergone a resurgence in recent times, becoming a popular and prominent refrain during the 2014 Russian Revolution and a symbol of democracy and of resistance against Putin’s Russia following the recent invasion of Ukraine.  (Wikipedia)
The Russian invasion of 2022 and the ensuing conflict with Ukrainian is much more than a localized, region specific flare-up.  More than a replay of 2014 when Ukraine revolted and fought for their independence and established a pro-Western democracy.  More than simply Putin’s deranged ambition to reunite the Soviet Union.  
In its purest form, I believe that this is a direct manifestation of Putin’s fear of the Western European bloc of nations, now with an evident resurgent NATO defensive force, becoming a viable challenge to his desire for further encroachment into the former Soviet satellite nations in Eastern Europe.  And, at the heart of the matter, a loss of his own status and position of power within Russia.  
For the later to happen, the Russian people will have to exercise their collective power for political change to evoke the required public will necessary to remove Putin.  In the here and now, Ukraine stands largely alone in its effort to thwart Putin’s ambitions, to be able to withstand the onslaught of what has been a truly devastating military strategy.  
While Ukraine is receiving near unlimited amounts of weaponry and supplies to support their resistance, while there is an exceptionally strong outpouring of NGO support and neighboring nations opening their borders to refugees, while there are volunteer fighters from other nations, while NATO is standing strong and diplomatic overtures to Putin have been made, this may not be enough.
Sanctions may need to be backed up a willingness to put at least a contingency of special operation units from NATO nations on the ground and military resources that will allow Ukraine to effectively control their air space.  
In the end, as others have said, a broader point of view is likely to be required.  The consequences of the current Russian-Ukrainian conflict reverberates far beyond their own borders.  It has already had global economic implications and may well set a politically unsettling precedent of allowing the spread of further unchecked aggressions by other ambitious players across the globe.  Only the cooperative efforts of all nations, or at the very least, the perseverance and will of the few to affect change globally that will blunt the force of those who desire power only for themselves.
“The ultimate test of man's conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.” 
― Gaylord Nelson