So You Pray for Peace in Ukraine

Look. If I had it my way, there wouldn’t have been this war — or any war. Those of us from the small countries in eastern Europe want war the least. I taught English to the special forces in Lithuania for a couple of years, and every single one of them told me the same thing: war is the worst that can happen to anyone. And those were men and women who had been trained and sent to any number of special operations in the hot spots of this planet. I was never pro-war; at one point I was a pacifist. Working with the special forces strengthened my commitment to object war in any shape or form, anywhere.

So I want to put a white dove with an olive branch on my Facebook profile picture as well. I want to post prayers for peace. I want to write melancholy posts about harmony among the nations of the world.

But this is what you have to understand. Sometimes, war is chosen for us. You come from countries that are decision-makers, countries that actively choose to wage, finance, staff, arm, and prolong wars. For the small fish like us, war is imposed on us.

Resisting war when bombs rain on cities, when tanks shoot at unarmed civilians, when nuclear power plants are intentionally attacked does not happen on your knees in your bedroom.

And then we have to make a choice: to resist evil or through our silence to comply with it. Resisting war when bombs rain on cities, when tanks shoot at unarmed civilians, when nuclear power plants are intentionally attacked does not happen on your knees in your bedroom. It might start there. But then you have to stand up and do something about it.

Especially those of you in the United States have not really experienced what a full-blown war feels like. You have not had to test your convictions and beliefs on the ground. You have not had to live with the generational fear of losing everything you have in an instance. This particularly applies to those of you who are white. In Eastern Europe, we live with it year after year, month after month, day after day.

We watch the evening news and read the news portals with a hitching breath. We bend over backwards to make ourselves acceptable to whatever international organizations that might give us at least a modicum of hope that we will not be swept off the map (again). We make alliances, sometimes regretable alliances, because we just want to live. We want to build a house and know that a year, five years, ten years from now, we will still be able to enjoy it. We want to plant trees and gardens, create art, raise children, start businesses — do all the things you do, anybody does — in peace.

But like Ukraine has shown, for us it can be taken away in a day.

I will tell you what I would do if, God forbid, it came to me. What I want to do even now. I would join the resistance and mix Molotovs. I have never held a gun in my life, but I would learn to. I would fight with all that I have.

Because I have something to defend that is larger than me. I am not much for such ideas as defending the motherland and alike. It’s a separate conversation but I prefer to think of people rather than abstract concepts. Yet I am full throttle when it comes to standing up to injustice, to terror, to unprovoked violence.

I will fight for truth. I will fight for justice. I will fight for freedom. Those are very concrete things for me.

My Black friends have taught me one of the most fundamental principles by which I live: no justice — no peace.

Don’t pray for a vacuous, hollowed-out peace. Pray for justice. Pray for strength for those who fight for justice. Pray for moral courage and resistance.

And pray for the Russian military-industrial complex to go f^* itself.

And remember that a dove when it defends its nest also fights.

NOTE: share this text only with proper attribution; do not modify or translate without explicit permission.

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PhD candidate (Religious Studies) at Duke. I focus on the intersections of critical race theory, gender and religion, especially as they apply to Eastern Europe

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Grazina Bielousova

Grazina Bielousova

PhD candidate (Religious Studies) at Duke. I focus on the intersections of critical race theory, gender and religion, especially as they apply to Eastern Europe

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