All of a Sudden…

by | Apr 8, 2022 | Conflict in Ukraine, Formation, Reflections | 1 comment

Suddenly we find ourselves at war, whether through first-hand experience, as witnesses to the pain of others, or as spectators from the comfort of our homes. We witness the high price to be paid for freedom, and the slow and arduous road to building peace through dialogue and negotiation.

The forced movement of war is no longer alien to anyone. The invasion is real… as is the feeling of helplessness, overwhelmed by the desire and instinct to do something.

What we are seeing appeals to solidarity; one can understand the desire to respond with arms. How do we escape the madness? How do we dissuade someone, lost in a past time, who does not serve the interests of any people? How do we negotiate and sit at the table with those who destroy infrastructures, residential areas and seem to want to annihilate culture, memory and many lives?

Nelson Mandela’s statement makes sense: “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”

I believe in the transformative power of the Christian commandment: to love our enemies and pray for their conversion, as observed in small actions and key setbacks so that the worst does not happen.

  • And, suddenly, an invasion not only of troops, but of images, sounds and words invades our daily lives.
  • And suddenly we find ourselves at war, whether through first-hand experience, as witnesses to the pain of others, or as spectators from the comfort of our homes. We witness the high price to be paid for freedom, and the slow and arduous road to building peace through dialogue and negotiation. The price to pay for resistance is high.
  • And, suddenly, we are all affected, because the signals were ignored, because we did not want to believe, because we did not want to get involved; or we were distracted by other issues, because there was other violence to confront and eradicate.
  • And, suddenly, a war breaks out, which now we know was announced a long time ago.
  • And, suddenly, an invasion of concerns. We are shocked by the gratuitous violence against civilians, innocent people, and on a global scale we foresee a worsening of poverty and misery.
  • And suddenly, we are moved by the impulse and the irrepressible desire to show solidarity, to do something, and we see so many fronts for action, so necessary and interconnected!
  • And, suddenly, tears come… in the face of powerlessness, all we can do is pray, cry, shout and implore for an end to the war, ask God to guide us in this quest to understand what our role as ordinary citizens, as an institution, can be. What else can we do, apart from asking Our Lady’s intercession?
  • And suddenly, it is not only humanitarian institutions trained to be on the ground that are present; suddenly there is a contagious wave of solidarity and cooperation throughout the country, in the European Union, in Europe and in other countries of the world.
  • And suddenly, it seems that within us lies the solution to the problems that have afflicted our human family for so long, a feeling of brotherhood arises and there are no borders!
  • And suddenly, religions are coming together to condemn this atrocious and insane war, to help and give spiritual comfort to so many people of all ages, and to energize so many forms of prayer: Catholic, ecumenical and interfaith. And conversion makes sense. Spirituality has a place and is necessary.
  • And, suddenly, we realize the importance of acting in a coordinated and networked way. Concerted interdependence is a value, and it is the way forward.
  • And suddenly we understand the importance of truth and reliable sources, of unbiased media, because discernment is required! We are grateful for the courage of so many journalists and photojournalists who go to the conflict, are on the ground and report what they see, and for the responsiveness of those who remain in the country: what a blessing the gift of languages, of interpreters and translators, to know and understand better!
  • And suddenly, the request for humanitarian corridors makes sense, the meaning of legal and safe avenues is better understood, the importance of welcoming, and the absurdity of creating walls for those fleeing a war…. After all, we inhabit the same planet and we all have the right to feel at home.
  • And suddenly, what is far away becomes closer; they could be us, a real sense of brotherhood and a childlike feeling arises, asking: Why? Why didn’t we act sooner?
  • And suddenly, witnessing the horrors of a senseless war, we respond very spontaneously; to welcome those fleeing a war is logical, it is against our humanity to discriminate on the basis of color, nationality or even religion; to shelter them is urgent and necessary, and naturally the laws of humanity must be another form of shelter and refuge on an international scale; it is against humanity to take life gratuitously, not to respect agreements, to profit from the tragedy and vulnerability of so many women, children, the elderly and the sick; to manipulate to exploit, traffic and sell human lives. It is clear that the need to promote peace and justice depends on how we educate and organize ourselves as a society, and how we construct and manage public policies in the light of international and local law. The values that unite so many countries and civilizations, and that enable us to promote dialogue and build platforms of understanding, are not abstract. It is increasingly urgent to promote development, to learn to integrate, to collaborate, to build, as a task for each and every one of us, in this dynamic of collaborative development. By sharing who we are, we grow in the capacity to include; by recognizing that we are brothers and sisters, we open borders to the feeling of belonging, because we inhabit the same common home.

With the certainty that nothing will be as it was before, we face the fragility of this time as an opportunity to do something different and dream of a different world.

What if we didn’t have nuclear weapons? In 2017, an agreement was promoted by the United Nations embodied in the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, in which member states committed to eradicate nuclear weapons in the world. The agreement was voted on in the UN General Assembly, and was approved by 122 countries; and although only 51 countries ratified it, that allowed the agreement to take effect on January 22, 2021, after overcoming the minimum barrier of 50 countries.

Eugénia Quaresma


1 Comment

  1. Paulinah Appiah Antwi

    God has a purpose for everything. He watches everything from a distance. God will never abandon His children. God is Almighty. God bless the people of Ukraine.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This