The world is not the same anymore today. Illusions have been lost forever, and we are opening our eyes to a new and scary reality. Once again. As if the covid pandemic wasn’t enough to show us our vulnerability and recklessness, asking for drastic changes. No catching our breath.
For a moment I briefly hesitated if I should really write about this grave subject of war in Europe. But I cannot ignore what the events of the last days mean for us. There is so much at stake and it has the potential to scare us out of our minds, considering all possible implications. That’s the feeling when realizing you are dealing with someone completely unpredictable who is prepared to go to considerable lengths.
Suddenly, every ordinary thing I look at, every task I do has become so insignificant. It’s a wonderfully sunny day in late February, and I realize once again how many things I take for granted. Having a home, food and water, being able to sleep at night without fear. My life is not threatened. My family and friends are safe.
Starting work yesterday morning, the daily problems we had to solve appeared like petty playground games to me in comparison. Nobody is going to die at our workplace if a report is delayed. (Maybe this should be my answer in the future in some of our conference calls.) I am thinking more and more about how scary the current situation must feel for my colleagues in Romania which is sharing a border with Ukraine.
Speaking to my parents in Germany who were teenagers during World War II, it’s really tough on them. They were both displaced back then, had to flee their homes. Having to leave behind people and places you love must be unimaginably sad. Watching the pictures on TV now brings back all those memories for them. They are devastated and frightened.
I grew up with these war stories because they both talked openly about it, hence I had probably less illusions about peace being a given. But when something like this happens it is still a shock. So I spent today moving between crying and defiance. Staying away from the news is difficult right now as fear seems to glue us to the TV or online news, looking at the ghastly empty streets of Kyiv. Then I went for a walk seeking the soothing powers of nature.
There is still hope. There always is.
Of course, there are chances.
Hope is the active conviction that despair will never have the last word. (Cory Booker)
- The time is now to respond unanimously. We are stronger together, that is one of the lessons to be learned.
- Acknowledging past mistakes made and learning from them quickly. Change has to come fast now, and it can. We’ve already seen it.
- No dwelling on national interests – that’s a luxury we cannot afford. No hesitation. Moving forward, doing the right thing for once. Knowing that otherwise, more could be at stake, so we need to act fast in unison.
- Making hard decisions and accept they will hurt ourselves as well to some extent. Absolute transparency of governments with their citizens about the consequences.
- Is there a better time than now to accelerate the changeover to sustainable energies? That ticks several boxes: fighting climate change and becoming less susceptible to blackmail by autocrats.
- Strategically important in the long term: the willingness to deal with crises in countries outside of Europe, to prevent escalation that could otherwise, eventually fall onto our own feet some day.
- Another interesting and very hopeful prospect: finding a solution to the stalemate situation in the UN security council.
The time is always right to do what is right. (Martin Luther King)
After all, this is a chance to getting our priorities right. A reality check.
And let’s not forget: we are living in the digital age now, having much more transparency than there ever was before. Let’s use it to our advantage. (The anonymous hacking group appears to be doing exactly that.)
What I say might sound like a citizens’ wish-list for our governments – and it actually is. Feeling powerless without influence on their decisions, all is left is my hope they will come to their senses, leaving their differences in opinion aside.
This situation is a crucible. It is heartbreaking and sadly, realistically, there is more heartbreak to come. How we will emerge from it remains to be seen.
But we need to hang in there, refusing to give up.
Because there is always a chance.