The Problem With Silence

For you too?

I can’t watch the evening news these days without tearing up.

Seeing these ordinary people doing such extraordinary things to try to save their nation from Putin’s War.

Dozens of women sitting in a basement shelter sewing camouflage clothing…

Men, who last week were mechanics or engineers or office managers, taking up arms, constructing tank traps, making Molotov cocktails, standing in line waiting for their weapon and ammunition…

Images of husbands holding their wives and children, kissing them goodbye and putting them on buses and trains headed for the border – Poland, Romania, Moldova – any place safer now than Ukraine…

Each adult knowing this may be the last time they see the people they most love.

This is the thing: I can’t pretend I don’t know what’s happening.

I can’t erase these images from my mind having seen them, having felt them touch my heart.

These people, just like you and me, quietly living their lives, raising their kids, paying mortgages, making ends meet, walking their little ones to school.

These people have done nothing to cause what is now happening to them.

It’s an outrage! It’s unthinkable, yet we’re watching it happen in real time. Real explosions. Real tanks attacking real people driving their cars to work.

Real death!

Ordinary citizens standing up to one of the most feared military machines on earth.

And so, when I see the entire cast of the Metropolitan Opera in NYC simply stopping their production to sing the Ukrainian national anthem (bet you can spot the native Ukrainian baritone who taught it to them)…

When I see the audience stand, in respect, in solidarity with this nation, these people who’ve had war thrust upon them…

It makes me tear up.

It makes me wonder if, at last, the political divisions that have riven our nation – America – can be put aside in respect, in solidarity, with these magnificently brave, extraordinarily patriotic Ukrainians.

You see, the problem with silence is that it doesn’t help.Them or us.

Silence makes a mockery of the ordinary. It exposes the shallowness of our lives. It forces us to acknowledge the grim fact that we are actually doing nothing about this, at least nothing that is really helping these people who, until last week, were just like us.

How can we bitch and moan that gas costs .04 cents more per gallon than it did last week? (Do the math: buying 16 gallons of gas to fill your car now costs you a whopping .64 cents more.)

How can we even notice, much less care, that a group of billionaires has locked out a group of millionaires so that we might not have baseball games as a distraction this spring?

How can we crack silly jokes and run stupid contests and play inane games on our radio stations having seen what is happening in Ukraine?

As if…

As if by our silence, by pretending nothing horrific is happening, our listeners won’t notice.

As if the only reason anyone listens to you is for jokes and games and trivia.

As if we honestly believe our jobs would disappear if we mention something deadly serious that requires the attention and action of the entire free world!

You don’t have to turn your show into a soap box, but surely you won’t drive listeners away by mentioning that if they’re as troubled by what we’re witnessing as you are, you’ll offer them a way to help.

One mention every 20-30 minutes of the link on your station website? One reminder that while our lives are chugging along, over there, across the Atlantic, over a million people have already sought safety across the border, with tens of thousands more following as fast as they can every single day.

Women and children. Families who have left everything they own, including their pets, and perhaps the ones they most love, trying desperately to get their little ones to safety.

Russian forces have now encircled most major cities in Ukraine. They will inflict terrible pain to achieve success, to do what their dictator demands: extinguish a sovereign nation and any of its people who resist.

For no good reason. Just because he can. Just because he wants to.

Anyway, I can’t ignore it, and all I really know how to do to somehow help is offer my own funds, and the attention you’ve gifted to me to ask that you somehow help as well: by reminding your listeners now and then of the desperate need of people whose only desire is to live in a free nation. Their free nation.

So, as I find new ways to send resources that can help, I will pass them along in my daily posts.

You can help, of course, by donating, but you can also help by just sharing this information, by refusing to remain silent about what we’re seeing every night.

And if Ukraine’s suffering somehow helps America to rediscover our shared ideals, I can find a bit of solace there too.

If you would like to try to help the people of Ukraine, for the next few days/weeks I’ll be offering some aid organizations that score really well with Charity Navigator.

Today, how about INTERNATIONAL RELIEF TEAMS with a perfect 100 score.

We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.” ~ Elie Wiesel

Lest we forget the problem with – the price of – silence…