We are Not Helpless: Ideas for Action in Response to the Ukraine Crisis

The world feels so heavy right now. Covid. Riots and racial reckonings. Gun violence. Climate change.

And now this.

Ukranian woman with tear on her faceAn act of violence by a power hungry dictator.

Horrific images of bombed buildings. Heartbreaking videos of parents saying goodbye to their children. Cars at a standstill, desperate to flee the coming invasion. Stories of people walking for over 20 hours in the middle of winter, to reach Poland.

Mothers, pulling their children away from windows. Families, hiding in a subway station. Men, civilians, young and old, are being called to defend their country.

Meanwhile, I sit here in my recliner, sipping hot tea and bouncing my infant son in his little chair. It seems impossible that something so terrible and life-altering is happening in the same world I live in, yet my day-to-day life is completely unaffected.

I, as I’m sure many of us do, feel utterly helpless. Resigned to sit here and doom scroll, while chaos unfolds half a world away. What do I tell my 5-year-old, when he asks why I’m praying for Ukraine? How can I grumble about late night wake-ups and early morning chores, when the Ukrainian people are literally fighting for those everyday, mundane concerns? What can I actually do to help?

I was praying and reflecting on this early this morning, as I nursed my baby. In some ways, I must accept that I cannot help. I don’t live there. I cannot fight. I cannot shelter people. I cannot clean up ravaged cities. However, I don’t believe that means we are helpless. If you, like me, are looking for something actionable, something tangible, may I offer you my humble ideas?

Pray

I know that “thoughts and prayers” is often seen as dismissive and trite, or that prayer, to some, seems like we’re seeking a magical solution. But prayer, at least in the Christian tradition, is talking to and building a relationship with God. We pray, not to change His mind, but for Him to change our hearts. The more we seek God, the more our hearts are conformed to His will. Prayer is our first step, so that we know what He is calling us to do here, for He calls us all to different roles. Prayer is not in place of action; prayer precedes action. If you are not of a religious tradition, you might instead take time to reflect and seek out what your conscience is telling you is the next step.

Talk to Your Kids

I imagine many of you reading this are mothers and thoughtfully considering just what to tell your children about all of this. My oldest is only 5, but he is already asking questions. I don’t want to scare him, but I also don’t want to sugarcoat what is happening. Dr. Becky Kennedy, of Dr. Becky at Good Inside, offers a few tips for discussing hard truths with your kids:

  • Don’t just jump in with the hard stuff. Start slow.
  • Be clear. Use real words, not euphemisms. Truth builds trust.
  • As you’re sharing facts, also check in with their feelings. Help them to process their feelings, either by naming them aloud or sitting with them in silence.
  • If you don’t know the answer, say so. Research and learn together.
  • Don’t feel the need to give this situation a “happily ever after”. Help them learn to sit with hard things.

This conversation doesn’t need to happen all at once. If your children get upset or need to take a break, table the discussion and revisit it later. Let them know they are welcome to come to you with their questions and fears.

Be the Change

Mahatma Gandhi tells us, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Change starts small. A small act of kindness can transform someone’s entire day. A small act of forgiveness can soften even the hardest of hearts. A small act of resistance can inspire hope. A small prayer can provide courage to take one more step. We are at a moment in history where change is needed. There are so many big steps to take: sanctions, providing weapons, offering shelter for refugees. However, there are also small steps that can be taken right now, today, that will one day, God willing, beget big change.

Model kindness and respect to your children. Read them stories of astounding courage and stories of the beauty of everyday life. Forgive those who have wronged you. Put aside petty grudges. Seek to find the inherent dignity and worth in everyone you meet. Love your neighbors, but more importantly, love your enemies.

I know these ideas are small. They may seem useless and insignificant in the face of such evil. But evil will always be a part of this world. We cannot eradicate it completely. What we can do is choose how we will respond to it. How we will teach our children to respond to it. These small acts help to form us into people of love, hope, courage. Step by step. Moment by moment. Kindness by kindness.


 

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Rebecca S. is a born and raised Houstonian; she grew up in Katy, graduated with a BS in Hotel and Restaurant Management from the University of Houston {go Coogs!}, and made a home in West Houston with her native Houstonian husband. She quickly realized that the chaotic lifestyle of the hospitality industry was not for her and soon found her calling in education. She taught while earning her masters in Library Science from the University of North Texas. Currently, she is staying home with her son, Thomas {2016} and daughter Charlie {2020}. In her free time, she loves to read, write, run, and roam the world. While her roots are firmly planted in H-town, she takes every available opportunity to go on an adventure and explore historic cities, hike and run new trails, and, of course, try beers from every country.

1 COMMENT

  1. Hi Rebecca. Thank you for writing this and discussing how to share this horrible crisis to our children.

    You are absolutely right. We can only control what we do and model time others the kindness and respect we would hope to see in everyone — near and far, leaders and followers.

    How better the world would be if we really lived you to the Golden Rule.

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