Wednesday June 19, 2024

Transcending certainties

By Robert C Koehler
March 21, 2022

Peace, in the deepest sense – in the midst of war – requires a clarity and courage well beyond the boundaries of linear understanding. The warning lights flash. World War III has entered the red zone. Can we stare into hell and refuse to enemy?

This is the deep, haunting need that is now required, as we clutch tomorrow, hold it tight, vow to protect it with our lives. But it’s far too easy, instead, to surrender to a certainty that the other guy – Russia, with the smirking face of Vladimir Putin – is 100 percent wrong, acting solely out of greed and delusional grandeur, which is something we would never do (and have never done). And it goes without saying we are blameless in all this. On with the show!

“Twenty-four hour cable news coverage of the ugly war in Ukraine is keeping Americans hyped up and dumbed down,” writes Gerry Condon of Veterans for Peace. “The very real horror of war is on the screen for all to see. The bombed-out buildings, the mounting civilian casualties and the frightened refugees speak their own truth”.

None of this horror should be minimized, bandaged over, for the sake of “peace,” as cynics assume. But, as Condon notes, “we rarely see the victims, the grieving families and the terrified refugees when the invader is the US The ‘shock and awe’ US terror bombing campaign on Baghdad was described by one network TV anchor as a ‘beautiful thing to see.’“ We also fail to notice three decades of Western minimization of Russian concerns – of Russian existence.

“The decision to spurn the possibility of peaceful coexistence with Russia at the end of the Cold War is one of the most egregious crimes of the late 20th century,” writes Chris Hedges. Instead, he notes, we spiraled into “a furious frenzy of the Russia-hating that has been central to US culture ever since World War II”.

This is not about blame, but it is about accountability – in all directions. Peace! It’s an ongoing, collective process, a crucial force needed especially in the midst of conflict. It’s about bridging gaps, listening to everyone, creating the future. A conflict isn’t simply ‘solved’, but understood and transcended. In this context, meet Yurii Sheliazhenko, executive secretary of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, a board member of the European Bureau of Conscientious Objection and a member of the board of directors at World BEYOND War.

Speaking from Kyiv with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez of Democracy Now!, Sheliazhenko – in an incredible interview – tells the world that there is no military solution to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. More than that, he describes how peace as a force is confronting the invasion: “. . . brave Ukrainian civilians are . . . blocking streets and blocking tanks, just staying in their way without weapons. . . . to stop the war. In Berdyansk city and Kulyk?vka village, people organized peace rallies and convinced the Russian military to get out”.

Despite what we may learn from media coverage, there are ways to confront war, to confront hell, without participating in it. Sheliazhenko does not speak abstractly. What is necessary right now is not the cancellation of Russia but a unification of the world.

“War profiteers of the West are the same threat to democracy as the authoritarian rulers of the East,” he said.

“Instead of breaking the last bonds of humanity out of rage, we need more than ever to preserve and strengthen venues of communication and cooperation between all people on Earth, and each individual effort of that sorthas a value.”

Every last soul on this planet is a participant in the peace process! This is a message emerging from Ukraine. What’s needed in this moment, of course, is a negotiated ceasefire, a Russian pullout.

Excerpted: ‘Transcending the Certainties of War’. Courtesy: