So We Can Still Be Humane – We Are Not Our Leaders

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A little girl turning 7 gets a surprise birthday party in the refugee camp in Siret, a Romanian border town. In the freezing cold March evening there’s cake, balloons, presents and strangers singing Happy Birthday in English, a language the Ukrainian girl most likely doesn’t understand. But judging by the huge innocent smile on her face, she probably understands the feeling behind it. Hopefully she stops being afraid for an instant. Hopefully she forgets the cruel reality and for a moment, she enjoys her birthday, the way any child should.

Of course, part of it was a PR exercise, considering that a certain Ministry posted the video on their Facebook page. But as far as this one is concerned, I couldn’t care less, not as long as these people get the help and support they need. For all I care, take action and do what needs to be done to help during such a crisis and you can boast about it all you want.

A week ago, when this insanity started, out local authorities and politicians were – of course – unprepared and taken by surprise, in spite of having claimed, days earlier, that they were ready. But average people and NGOs rallied on the spot, so those fleeing to save their lives received the help they needed and deserved. Supplies were gathered and offered to people needing them; transportation and shelter were also being organised, by the same simple, ordinary people, who managed to get the job done, in spite of lacking proper coordination.

I won’t deny it, I was surprised. The pandemic hasn’t exactly strengthened my faith in human kind in general or in the reaction of my own nation in particular. Fortunately, we didn’t f*** this one up. And by we I mean we, the ordinary people. Days later, the authorities finally started to catch up, in their own way… including politicians having their pictures taken next to piles of supplies in the gathering of which they had no merit. That, however, was no surprise. It was only disgusting and revolting, the way they usually are.

But at least we, the ordinary people, also have the freedom to speak our mind, to scream our rightful indignation to anyone willing to listen or post about it on the social media of our choice, without fear of persecution or retribution of any kind. We – well, most of us – are not our leaders, and we can make that clear.

Of course we, the ordinary people, have our own fucked up individuals too, who won’t fail to try and exploit those in need in order to secure financial gain for themselves. Amidst all those offering help – free help – to people in a desperate situation, there were those taking advantage and charging for their services… Fortunately, it seems that those were sad exceptions and not the rule.

From what I see, hear and read about, ordinary people all over the world share common thoughts and feelings about what Ukraine is going through. This, no doubt, has put pressure on certain mechanisms.

I won’t dwell on politicians and their actions for now… I will say this much, though… I can’t imagine any of our politicians, any of our “leaders” act the way the Ukrainian president is these days. As for our mayor… Ha! He’d probably institute a residential parking fee for tanks right before he flees town with the first private helicopter/plane available… that is, unless some “benevolent” dictator offered him a fortune in exchange for his services under a new regime.

So we can still be humane… let’s hope this lasts and the war does not.

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