Notes of Solidarity is a new daily series of mini-essays, poems, and reflections on the Russian war on Ukraine by some of Wales’s leading literary figures. Here, author Norena Shopland writes on the strength of solidarity in the face of the great evil unleashed by Vladimir Putin.
Hate crimes have risen in recent years to levels not seen for decades. It’s across the board – discrimination against ‘others’, such as LGBTQ+, race, religion, disability there seems to be room for every angry and hate-filled voice on a platform that stretches across the world. Someone from a faraway country can pour hatred on someone they will never meet, never know, or see as a fellow human being. A blanket headline-reactionary type of dirty activism. But few people would or could have predicted the level of hatred that emanates from just one man who now holds the world in his grip.
Comparisons to Hitler are bandied about but this man out-evils even Hitler or any other dictator because he is among us, because we see it, we feel it, we witness it. Other dictators have slid into the shadows of history and most people never want to read about them, but this man dominates our lives making us stare in horror at the unthinkable outcome when hatred knows no bounds. Decency, morality, humanity, is absent and we mourn their demise as we watch the death figures rise and the atrocities of residential areas deliberately being targeted.
But there, there in the mud and the blood, the suffering, the deaths, and the world-felt pain, decency, morality, and humanity are surviving. We send our money, our clothes, medical supplies, we march, we write, we cry on platforms that stretch across the world. We stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine because we recognise that they have a right to choose their own path, to live the way they want to live free of the shackles of dominion and hatred. Ukraine was chosen as a platform for this one man to show the world his power but we the world have taken it from him and the messages we post are of hope, trust, and friendship for the people of Ukraine. If the country does fall to Russia, we will remain allies to the people of Ukraine because they are not like us, they are us.
To paraphrase John Donne, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less… Death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore, send not to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee”.
For more information on the Russia-Ukraine war, including ways you can help, please click here.
You can follow all contributions to Notes of Solidarity from Wales Arts Review here.
Norena Shopland is a writer and researcher in Wales. Her book, Forbidden Lives, is available from Seren Books.