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Peace, Please

My colleague called it doomscolling. I knew straight away what she meant.

It’s the thing that we both, along with a large portion of other Finns, have been doing incessantly for the past two weeks. While I sit here comfortably in my warm home, somewhere out there, there is a 6-year-old girl crying for her mother, stuck under the rubble of a building bombed by the Russians. She dies alone, slowly. Thirsty, scared and suffocating.

People on Twitter are promoting their books, Instagrammers are promoting their shiny lives, Facebookers are facebooking.

Russians are bombing children’s hospitals, daycare centers, and children who are trying to run to freedom while holding their mothers’ hands. Another little girl died on the street and lay there covered by her own coat. Meanwhile, a father rushed his 2-year-old to the hospital that wasn’t bombed yet, but it was too late.

Russians fired and bombed during ceasefire, multiple times. They put live mines on evacuation routes and then later used the routes for their own army’s entrance.

I’m no war reporter. I’m sitting comfortably on my couch, safe for now, drinking tea and doomscrolling. 74 % of Finns are worried about the military threat Russia poses and over half believe it probable that the war will spread to other European countries and that we, too, will have to defend ourselves against Russia. Our only crime is that we are geographically situated too close for comfort.

We have a long border with Russia and we have been independent for 105 years now. The last time they attacked us was during World War II: many of my grandmother’s generation are still alive to remember it.

Raising two sons, I’m anxious to know when Russia will strike our peaceful, tiny country. Will it be now or later? Should I pack an evacuation bag? Or will my boys be army-aged by then? Am I raising them only to be force-fed to a war machine when they are in their teens? Where can we flee?

The last time I faced this kind of evil was when I visited Paris in 2015 and the Bataclan attacks happened during the exact same weekend. I was safe at my friend’s place, but we could hear the sirens outside and it felt like the whole city was a big funeral. I haven’t been back there since then.

This time, it feels like a horror movie that just goes on and on. When will the monster stop? Why can’t anyone catch him? He’s a murderer.

When Ukraine was invaded 2 weeks ago, it was mind-boggling to learn how out of the loop the Russian public had been all these decades; while the rest of the world had been making progress, they were still stuck in the Cold War. How was it even possible to create such censorship in a country where the borders were open and people travelled regularly? They have their own social media and there’s a language barrier, but are they really in such a bubble that they think Putin is the good guy?

Since then, information has started to spread. 10 000 Russians have been jailed after they risked their freedom to protest the war. They even jailed protesting children.

Basic education is such an important thing. It could prevent war or cause war.

Let’s talk a little about why you should care. Yes, you, over there far, far away. The conflict in Ukraine started years ago and I didn’t pay attention to it earlier, either. Nor did I follow other wars this intensely. It’s normal: we can’t worry about everything, so if it’s far enough from us, we ignore it. It’s how we humans protect ourselves. But some reporters have stated that this is already the beginning of World War III and it could turn nuclear.

Did you know that Europe’s largest nuclear plant was invaded by Russians and set on fire, while the operators begged the invaders to stop, in the name of everyone’s safety?

Did you know that Russians cut off Chernobyl’s power supply and now it is possibly leaking radioactive material into its surroundings? It’s like a suicide mission.

Some Russian soldiers have surrendered, having been duped into the army by false pretenses; lost, and missing home. I feel sorry for their mothers, and also sorry for the mothers whose children are victims of the attacks. Imagine having a child that needs treatment for a serious disease and now they have to flee. Imagine giving birth when – boom – a bomb is dropped on the building.

I’m no journalist and I’m simply retelling bits I’ve read that have stuck with me. I try to restrict my doomscolling to reliable sources (like BBC and the Finnish equivalent, Yle) and I don’t watch social media users’ own content. I don’t want to spread bad information. But I also feel I can’t keep quiet because that is part of the problem in Russia: not knowing what is really going on. I have some friends with Russian roots and I’m careful not to blame this on the people. The country needs help to form a democracy, if we all get out of this hostage situation alive.

Europe is being attacked and Ukrainian children are suffering the most. Who even noticed the IPCC report?

76 replies on “Peace, Please”

You described it well: “it feels like a horror movie that just goes on and on. When will the monster stop?” I wonder the same thing. I know my history well enough to understand the subtext of what is happening, repeating history in some ways. I limit my doomscrolling, but I refuse to not acknowledge what is going on. This is awful. Thanks for saying so here.

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I think everybody in Europe is worried about the threat of a (nuclear) war. But my thoughts are, apart from the poor people of the Ukrain and the poor Russians who know no better, especially with the countries that may face direct agression. Finland, the Baltic countries, the countries in the south. Today I was assisted in a clothing store by E. (her name was on the bill). She told me she is from Georgia, fled a couple of years ago, can’t sleep for the last two weeks. When I left the shop saying: ‘Don’t worry to much’. She smiled and said: ‘I wish I could.’ These are rotten times.

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It’s beyond heartbreaking. I’ve been carefully watching the news and everything you’ve stated has been my gut feeling since the moment everything started. I wrote a post before the one I wrote today titled “a little thing like me” where I discussed similar topics myself. My husband was a soldier and my heart aches for these incredible people

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Thanks for taking the time to read them! I personally don’t think that things with the war or the economy will get better. Or that if they do… it will be short lived. America has a date with Russia and it’s coming soon. I think we need to get back to our roots with gardening and teaching our children how to be self sufficient in a completely different way because someday it might be the only thing that saves them.

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I value your PoV, Snow and this war has many consequences and serious implications. I wonder at the minds of the Russians too. Russians voted for this man who offered them a ‘firm hand,’ and his popularity rose from 0 to 60 % in the six months before his first election!! A Ukrainian- Russian girl living here said the Russians are closed off, fearful and hard-nosed in their attitudes and when there is fear the thought of a powerful strong leader is attractive to some. We know this from history. Perhaps the Russians feel there is some advantage for them. This is a big gamble and at a monumental cost to life. I have considered also their individuality has been completely lost along with individual thinking. Dangerous. But there are cracks in Putin’s control. How long will it drag on, is the salient question on everyone’s mind?

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I’m not sure I believe there really was a fair election, it seems rigged. What you say about a powerful leader sounds interesting – and sadly plausible – as well as the lost individuality. We have so many Russian shopping tourists here all the time: I really had no idea of the lies they were educated into. The cultural gap is so enormous. One of our largest newspapers, as well as two other Nordic ones, have just announced they are going to start publishing articles in Russian, so that Russians may have access to impartial reporting. That was a piece of good and constructive news amidst all of this destruction.

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The elections could well have been adulterated. Apparently Moscow did not vote for him? Why not? Perhaps Putin has a stronger influence over the rural dwellers even if it just due to ignorance? Moscow’s residents might be exposed to outside influences more?
A fantastic idea to publish articles in Russian, in Finland. Are the Russians still shopping in droves or has that tapered off since their currency bottomed out?

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Trainfuls of Russians are now coming here not to shop but to escape chaos and rising prices in Russia, now that foreign businesses have closed and all those sanctions have been put in place. It seems the sanctions just mean they are moving to ”western” countries. I do wonder, if Russia decided to invade us… they already have a strong representation in our country. It’s weird. But Finland has kept the border open and this is the only route they have if they want to flee. I don’t know if the sanctions are really working. And now we have Ukrainians here, too, as refugees, so both parties of the war…

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There’s an interesting article in the NYT about the Russian exodus to Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Latvia etc. Istanbul alone, sees 30 flights a day arriving from Moscow. It says that those fleeing Putin are met with anti-Russian prejudice.

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Thanks for the link, will read it! I have to admit, that over here we have perhaps eased up on our Russian prejudice now that it’s been repeated everywhere that most Russians aren’t to blame, don’t agree, didn’t know. You see, we were attacked by Russia in my grandparents’ generation’s youth and many of us grew up hearing warnings of how ruthless the Russians were. Couple that with a language barrier and cultural differences, Russian tourists were often seen as rude and unfriendly here. I, too, have had plenty of such encounters. (And I acknowledge that Finns, too, can seem cold because it’s such an introverted society. People my age weren’t taught the same polite phrases in their childhood that I learned in Australia, and so their way of communicating can seem very blunt. It’s cultural.) Anyway, so I personnally feel, without being able to back it up with any sources, that right now, Finns have opened up their tolerancy to a new level. We are forgiving of the Russians who come here and we want to help the Ukranians. I read a couple of articles where refugees from other parts of the world said, sadly, that they had never been welcomed here like the Ukranians. I think it’s due to our personal fear for our own safety, but I do hope this changes also how we see refugees from African and Middle Eastern countries.

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I recently learned about the Russian invasion of Finland & how they were defeated by the Finns. Times have changed but one can hope that a similar victory will apply to Ukraine.

I have noted too, the difference in refugee response to this vs other crises. I suppose that it’s human nature to react like-to-like & many Europeans & Americans have generational histories related to WWII. I can’t help but wish that world crises would settle down, so that discussions like this could be relegated to classrooms & philosophical discourse.

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On tämä niin järkyttävää. Kukaan ei olisi voinut kuvitella, että Covidin jälkeen, ihmisten odottaessa vapaampaa ja valoisampaa olemista, tapahtuu näin hirveitä. On kuin keuhkoista lyötäisiin ilmat pihalle joka aamu uudelleen edellisen yön uutisia lukiessa.

En ole pystynyt tuottamaan mitään sisältöä mihinkään kanavaan. Kaikki muu paitsi uutiset tuntuvat täysin toisarvoisilta. Synkkä uutismaisema varjostaa kaikkea tekemistä. Ihmisten ja eläinten kärsimys ahdistaa. Voi kunpa tämä järjettömyys loppuisi pian.

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Ihan samanlainen fiilis: kaikki tuntuu niin triviaalilta ja toisarvoiselta. Työpalaverit, joissa kerrotaan viikonloppukuulumisia ja suunnitellaan tulevaa, ihmisten postaukset kivoista retkistä ja auringonpaisteesta. Kaikki voi olla hetkessä ohi, yhdellä napinpainalluksella. Joku sanoo, älä murehdi koska et voi vaikuttaa asioihin. Mutta en käsitä miten tämän voi täysin sivuuttaa. Ei voi muuta kuin odottaa ja toivoa.

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This is so reminiscent of what happened under the Nazi regime. This time, at least, the world is sitting up and taking note early into the game, but it seems that all the criticism and sanctions are rolling off Putin’s back. He must be feeling very secure in his position. It is true what Forestwood says above “when there is fear the thought of a powerful strong leader is attractive to some”. We see it happening in Africa all the time.

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Thanks, Hester, for your thoughts, and I agree. I so wish we could get everyone some better education. Our planet needs it to combat climate change, but it could also work wonders for world peace, women’s rights, and so on. Putin seems unfazed and he has so many allies who he has bribed throughout the years. Whether they are grateful, loyal or just scared – who knows. What’s mind-boggling is that Putin has children, too. Doesn’t he care about leaving them a living and breathing planet to walk on? They are hiding in a luxury bunker somewhere – will that be their lives from now on? What is his end game?

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I don’t believe that the Russian people are as brainwashed as many believe. A simple protest can mean life in prison there. That tens of thousands (probably more) would protest tells you something. There are many more who are simply too scared to do so. They have to weigh up the cost of protesting versus never seeing their families again. Putin is a loner – surrounding by a bunch of self appointed yes men. The problem lies at his feet. A sick despot not above using the most twisted kinds of tactics. We all must do what we can. Concentrate on what we can control and fight in whatever we can. Hope is not lost. The Ukrainians believe that most of all. Thank you for doing your part and speaking up. 🙏

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I have friends who know people in Russia and the Russian friends refuse to believe what their Finnish friends are telling them about the war. Their national pride is very strong. But what you say is also true, and life in prison is really a risk. Many prominent people who have spoken up have been jailed or worse, it’s not even something they are trying to hide. Thank you for reading and yes, hope is not lost.

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I’m not surprised Russian people believe the controlled information given to them. Here in the U.S.A. people have access to all kinds of information, but many prefer to believe things that are clearly untrue, that even their ‘leaders’ admit are false. It’s willful stupidity.
The situation in Europe is truly depressing and one can only hope that somewhere, somehow Putin missteps and loses support. It seems to me that as he turns 70, he’s looking for something to crown his ‘reign,’ though as far as I know he has no successor lined up so what happens when he’s gone is also kind of worrying.
Even in these bleak times we must hope for the best, though I know that’s easier for me to say in my location than it is for you in yours.

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Well, it’s not paradise – no place is – but it probably looks like it from where you are right now. I hope you can retain faith that this situation will pass, but I know that’s easier to say than to live through. My thoughts are with you.

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I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like for you, being so close and with two little ones. I’m far far away and I too have been doomscrolling. I’ve seen/read everything you’ve mentioned and more. It’s heartbreaking and frightening.
Let’s just hold each other close, in person or in cyberspace, as best we can.
It’s a lovely piece TSMS, even if the reason for it is not.
Big hug
Alison

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Thanks, Sam, for reading! True, I’ve been focusing on editing my posts til I’m really happy with them, even if it means less quantity. But now with this war, everything just feels so trivial, I think I’m inadvertently headed towards a little blogging break until the security threat lifts…

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If it’s any comfort, know that many of us, near and far, feel as you do. There is a senselessness in this war that is more shocking because of it’s constrast to the conviviality of our virtual & so-called ‘connected’ world. I read somewhere that the antidote to anxiety is taking action. For those who can, we contribute to relief causes and assist those in need. It’s not enough to end the war but maybe, it makes a difference to someone affected it.

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Thanks, Sandy! I agree, this war is senseless, pointless and unnecessary. Many people here are housing Ukranians. Our flat is too small for that, but I’ve donated money. It’s not enough, though, to ease the anxiety. I just keep thinking about escape plans. A spaceship would come in handy right now…

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Enchanté (si l’on peut dire) de reblogger. Very good post, and thanks for turning the button on…
Bonne semaine aussi. Je lis les nouvelles Françaises tous les jours. En admirant le courage des Ukrainiens. 🇺🇦

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there are no words to describe how the world feels right now. What the hell is going on? How could it come to what it has? There are no real answers. Is it all because one world leader is mad? I don’t know. I dont see a quick resolution. Hope you are ok

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I just read an essay explaining it’s due to generations’ and generations’ worth of Russian ”education” about how they are the saviour of the evil West, basically (the essay put it in more civilised words). After WWII, other countries started over and learned from the past, but Russians stayed in that era. A revolution is impossible, the article said, and putin isn’t a madman but a product of this system. Meaning there will be others to continue the work even after him. So… I don’t know. Does this mean the whole planet will blow up? Or just Europe? 🥺😭 People say, don’t worry, you can’t do anything. But I can’t think of anything else but this. The end of the world?

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It’s inhuman, isn’t it? How can a situation like Mariupol exist in today’s world, while we watch? I check the headlines hoping every morning and I have a blog that I follow by a Russian authoress. Her daily diary from Kyiv is harrowing. The world goes on turning and people jaunt off on cruise ships. I find it very hard to understand our world. My family in Poland also share a border. Their focus is to help all they can.

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It’s so cruel and the fact that the world keeps on turning is cruel too, though inevitable. My friends tell me, you can’t worry about it all the time, you need to keep living. But how? It could be us next month. It could be the entire continent or planet. I’m sure those bombs aren’t helping climate causes. And why do they target children? Did the soldiers turn into monsters, too, once they had made their first kills? How can normal people just suddenly become killers? Even if we survive this, imagine the psychological damage. The young generations are already depressed, will this increase suicide rates afterwards? My mind is spiralling and I see no way out, but luckily I’m not a politician. Let the politicians prove they are worth their salary now… all we can do is watch in horror and wait. And help.

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It seems as if a surreal state has taken over Europe ~ here in Czech I have friends who are now putting together very loose contingency plans with the comment that “it is crazy to be thinking this way and a Russian invasion is possible, but even crazier not to think about such plans…” Wishing you well, and truly a beautiful post in both emotion and writing, even though it comes from such sadness.

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Thanks so much, Randall. It does seem naive to ignore it, but still some choose to. My first reaction was to pack our bags and fly far away, but my friends said, where to? I could work anywhere they have wifi, with my remote job, but then someone would have to look after my kids. Don’t know. Now I’m kind of stuck waiting. Warm wishes to you, too. Are you in Czech permanently?

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Agree, it is still in this stage of this could not happen ~ but the fact that people are actually thinking about it is the scary part which hides a bit of possibility. With the debacle in Ukraine I can image it going any further, but… Yes, I am in Czech with my work but last year spent quite a bit of my time in the States and I think this year could be the same. Take care ~

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Thanks for the thoughts. It’s amazing how many countries are showing Russia support and even see Russia as the victim. It feels like there is no end to this. Children used as human shields and all that horrendous killing, all for nothing. Take care

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Thanks for posting this. Truth be told I’ve been doomscrolling for the past six years — waiting for things to become less awful 😣
I post something occasionally and always feel uneasy at the pretension that I have something to say about my art and health problems when so many people are scrambling to not be bombed or otherwise slaughtered.

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Exactly. My friends are travelling etc, and it all feels so carefree, like… don’t they realise what’s happening? But then someone said to me, you’re not dead yet, you need to keep living. So I guess that’s true, too. Let’s make the most of each day. Take care!

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What a word! Doomscrolling…! For a while I´ve stopped reading about this cuz it makes me sad. It´s undeniably gloomy and inhumane. I know personally friends from Ukraine who lived now here in our neighbourhood and the grief and we called it “Angst” or deep worry is really real. It´s terrible what happened to Ukraine in the past weeks.Their lives were totally changed–with a force.
I guess if we can order Pheace online or in the store it´s already sold out by now!
Worrying is wasteful so I hope everything would be well soon and we can sit and eventually do “goodsrolling” without a hint of worry soon.
Sending you warm “Ostermontag ” wishes!

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Oh, I’d love to do goodscrolling! I even signed up to receive a newsletter called something like Positive News Finland. I like how you said worrying is wasteful – I wish I could stop! But I do make the most of every day, so no regrets. And yes, ordering peace online would be amazing!!!!!

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