attrition

Every morning this week I’ve sat here at the keyboard and started to write a post about the situation in Ukraine. Every single morning I’ve put a couple hundred words in a row, and every morning I’ve deleted them all.

I mean, what is there to say? Well, obviously there’s a LOT to say–the military situation, the refugee situation, the NATO situation, the war crimes situation, and on and on and on. But the internet is awash in experts opining and analyzing all that. What is there for ME to say? Is there anything I can contribute that’s meaningful?

Not much. I can express opinions, but my opinions about Ukraine aren’t very much different from most folks. And as for those folks whose opinions support Russia and Putin–what is there to say to or about them? Not much, other than ‘Russian warship, go fuck yourself’.

The problem (for me) is that it’s hard to write about anything else at the moment. Everything else seems trivial. Art? Clarence Thomas in the hospital? Republican hypocrisy? Pickleball? The January 6th prosecutions? The arrival of Spring and getting back on the bike? Voter suppression? The latest research on crows? Today’s hearing on the nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court? There are lots of things that occupy my mind and my time besides Ukraine. It’s just that none of them seem as important. None of them ARE as important.

What makes this all the more awful is that the war in Ukraine has become something of a stalemate. It’s turning into a war of attrition–the ugliest, cruelest, and most brutal form of war. A war of attrition isn’t about territorial control; it’s about imposing as much suffering as possible in every way possible in order to force the enemy to give up. It’s about wearing away at the very foundations of a sustainable life–food and shelter. It’s about reducing towns and cities to uninhabitable rubble.

But here’s the truly awful thing: I suspect–I fear–the American public will begin to treat the war of attrition in the same way they’ve treated the global pandemic. They’ll get bored with it. It’ll be normalized, in the same way they’ve come to accept a thousand deaths a week from Covid as normal. In the same way they’ve come to accept extreme weather disasters as normal. Instead of being tortured from a death by a thousand cuts, those cuts will be seen as routine. (By the way, if you google ‘death by a thousand cuts’ most of the results will refer to a song by Taylor Swift rather than lingchi, the ancient Chinese method of torture and execution–how’s that for normalization?)

NOTHING ABOUT THE WAR IN UKRAINE IS NORMAL.

So, what are we to do? What am I to do? Carry on as usual with this blog? I guess the only answer is to try to find some sort of balance. Write about the stuff that interests me, even if some of that stuff is trivial. But also keep talking about the suffering of the people of Ukraine, and about the deliberate cruelty of Putin, and about the policies of nations that support–or fail to support–Ukraine.

That’s what I’ve decided to do. But it feels a little like attrition.

12 thoughts on “attrition

  1. I understand you completely. I can’t find things to do or say that don’t seem trivial in comparison. I spend my time making sure I know what’s happening. I’m not one to ignore things and keep on with my own petty life as if nothing is happening. We have to live our lives, but we need to understand what is happening around us and how it can and will affect us.

    I find it hard not to feel a bit of disgust towards people’s holiday photos and plans right now though. I really find that one hard to get my head around, considering many of the people I know and see talking about their upcoming holidays will be going to Europe. They will fail to notice the refugees looking pale and exhausted, as they head towards the tourist spots and beaches of neighbouring countries.

    I still want to hear about your bike rides and your photos of them. I want pictures of Miss Cat. I know you feel it. That you know what’s happening and that you will be keeping an eye on it all. That, for me, means your other words are important. What I don’t know how to deal with are the people who haven’t given it a second thought.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Part of the problem–for me, at any rate–is the inability to actually DO anything meaningful to help. I can donate money. I can buy pro-Ukraine merch, the profits for which go to refugee aid. I can be public in my support for Ukraine. But there’s really not a lot I can do that’s directly helpful. Which leaves me feeling helpless.

      I just need to do what I can and still continue to live my otherwise ridiculously happy life.

      Liked by 2 people

      • It’s the same for most of us. We are closer to it, and there has been talk in the village about who has a spare room or annex to offer for a refugee. But we don’t have room for that personally. So all we can do is donate and buy stuff. But through social media I know someone in Kyiv, and that makes it all really much more worrying as I have a focus. So far she’s OK and her social media friends are helping her cope. She is so grateful for our support and kindness and she’s so strong and determined. Today she’s shared about 10 other Ukrainian colourist girls and asked us to seek them out on Instagram and give them words of support too. So we can do that and if feels like something to talk to people there. But it’s not a lot when really what I want to do is drop a very large bomb on Putin’s fucking head.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. It’s so hard to think of anything being “normal” right now. It’s just not. I call it “a disturbance in the force” that makes our own little lives different, because there is an elephant in the room. But we must carry on, right? We have to live, one way or another, with this horror that’s been unleashed. I feel your angst.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It think it’s appropriate for the war in Ukraine to intrude rudely on our thoughts and lives. It’s not angst, really, since it’s pretty clearly focused; it’s more a feeling of helplessness sporadically interrupted by rage.

      Like

  3. how coincidental – I was expressing the same concern earlier today, while talking with a friend who lives in Holland. He had posted a photo of an anti-war protest in Amsterdam, and my reaction was almost instantaneous: WHY SO FEW PEOPLE? He replied by suggesting people are not that scared, because their country is farther away from Putin. That made me realize that MY country is right next to Ukraine, and specifically, Odessa is 100 km away from our eastern border. Yet, I am beginning to feel bored – ok, not bored, but overwhelmed with contradictory news, the shitty press coverage – between unsubstantiated information, excessive emotionally charged titles, fearmongering, the whole lot. It’s difficult to stomach the whole thing after two years in which we’ve been exposed to a different kind of drama, and which we had to endure at the expense of our mental stability and physical health. Just yesterday I had a portrait session with a IT guy from Bucharest, who told me how four or five of his friends are in a bad state of anxiety disorder caused by the pandemic. It’s not good to be apathetic, but as far as I am concerned, I cannot find the stamina to be more proactive than to donate some money, try to help in small ways specific cases of refugees that arrive daily in Romania. It’s awful, and God knows what will follow. That said, fuck Putin.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your nation is helping out with refugees, with military aid, with medical aid, and should be commended for it, because it’s risky. Not a huge risk at the moment, but potentially huge depending on what Putin does next.

      I should end everything I write with ‘Fuck Putin’.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I hear you. Keep making good art. I read somewhere recently that survival needs adaptation, creativity and faith. The faith part is the hardest – I don’t mean faith in the religious sense, but keeping some feeling of being part of a greater whole, the interconnectedness of all beings, of maintaining integrity. Maybe even posting to your blog is an act of faith – that there are people out there who care, who want to hear what you have to say, who share your feelings.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m always surprised–and a little disappointed–when I come across somebody who DOESN’T feel connected to the larger world. I think it would be difficult to cut yourself off from the world like that. Not difficult in an emotional sense, but difficult in that the internet keeps churning out news and information at an astonishing rate, and how could you NOT hear some of it?

      Like

      • But there are so many people who don’t hear or see or connect. Their own little world is all they are interested in. They are the “Oh I don’t do Politics” crew. And they are all around us. I find it endlessly frustrating that some of them are even friends. I have no idea how to follow up that statement other than to say something like “well you should, because politics is doing you over every day”.

        Half of Russia doesn’t know what’s going on right now. They have been told what to believe and so they are. And now it’s much harder for them to find out otherwise. Every external news media outlet has been shut down. A Russian ex-oligarch turned huge critic and in exile on threat of death if he sets foot back in Russia, has asked that people like the BBC broadcast long wave radio news programmes in Russian so that people can pick that up. Imagine not knowing what’s going on in the world. It is not something we would be able to cope with. Yet so many choose it as a way of living, not just those forced into it.

        Liked by 1 person

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