Today the world stands still for Ukraine

by Lorna Slater MSP

And then the world stood still. Numbed. Wondering how the Hell did we get here? How could it happen again?

Today I’ll lay a wreath at a service in Edinburgh in commemoration of all who have died in the bloody, illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine.

At 11am, we will as a nation fall silent for a moment of reflection. But as we do, the fighting goes on. 

The guns will still fire, the shells will still explode, the tears will flood. 

The Ukrainians who have fled here to Scotland, to a place where we try to give them some small semblance of sanctuary, will be in our thoughts as they are in our hearts.

You don’t need me to imagine how today will be for them. 

Or of how every day, every news TV bulletin, every newspaper photograph from their homeland, rips through their heart.

But we who would offer shelter to the displaced, aid to the needy and hope to the few must be on our guard too.

We cannot, must not become so very accepting of the presence of these scenes of carnage that we allow our interest, our outrage to be fatigued. 

Attrition is a weapon of war. It is used to grind down our resolve against the horrors evil regimes can do.

So today each and every one of us has a responsibility to say no, to mark this moment in any way we can, be it a bow of our heads, a donation to charity, a speech in Parliament, a post online. 

Harnessing one voice we must tell the people of Russia the truth. In one breath we must tell the people of Ukraine our love is with them. 

With one roar we must tell Vladimir Putin enough is enough, he will never win.

Some may be scared of how China is being courted by the Kremlin, as it plays out its own geopolitics towards Taiwan. 

Or of how the US is engaged in a high stakes staring contest with Moscow over nuclear arsenals. Or what happens next.

Which is why it is so vital that we hold onto our values, our compassion, and our capacity to care.

Mostly, though, of holding out our hand in friendship to those who have lost their all. 

Of telling those Ukrainians who have been dropped into our world that they are welcome here.

In how we lift them up materially or in mind. A friendly ear, a shoulder to cry on, a peer to help, a child to play. 

When we hear that distinctive accent it should inspire us to pause, reflect, and ask ourselves what we would feel in their situation.

To consider the charities who are doing all they can to shuttle aid to the displaced, those still under siege, and to ask what we can do to help.

Do we do without a night out and donate what we might have spent, write a letter to our politicians, to the newspaper letters pages, do we take clothes and other items to a drop off point, volunteer? So many ways. 

In practical terms we know we have our own busy lives to live. But we are less if we do not pause to fully take in on what these last 12 months have meant.

Today I’ll lay a wreath in Edinburgh. At 11am we’ll fall silent and bow our heads. Today, the world stands still. 




Image Credit: Freepik