Talking Points

War comes to Ukraine

War has come to Ukraine, and it is a terrible thing. 

I'm writing this on Wednesday night, in the first hours after Russian leader Vladimir Putin declared a "demilitarization and denazification" campaign in Ukraine — a euphemism for invasion and likely slaughter, a pile of lies on top of a pile of lies that really only means that Putin wants to possess somebody else's country and so he has decided he will. If there was a moment for all sides to reach some kind of compromise to preserve the peace, that moment is passed.

We don't know if and when it will return.

Many people will suffer as a result. Many people are already dying. War is destruction — it destroys bodies, it destroys lives, it destroys souls and it destroys communities and whole nations. It is ugly and horrific and it is a sin. God help all the poor Ukrainians caught in its path. God help us all.

This is the moment where I'd usually be obligated to say that "this isn't the time for pointing fingers, we'll figure out who is responsible later," but that would be a laughable claim in this Twitter- and Facebook-fueled age. Donald Trump, the former president, almost immediately called into Fox News to gripe about the "stupidity" of the Biden Administration. "This all happened because of a rigged election," he said.

How sad. How petty. How lonely and small one's imagination must be to look at this human tragedy and see only your own tedious, false complaints embodied in it.

For the rest of us, it might be good to take a moment to sit quietly and with a little bit of humility, to acknowledge the horror and to grieve for the people of Ukraine, to pray that the violence doesn't spill out of control while knowing that it so often does. Something awful is happening, and it's not clear that we can do anything to "fix" it — not without possibly creating yet more violence and more suffering. There is no happy ending to this. We are at the limits of our powers.

That demands a bit of modesty, a bit of awe. We'll get back to screaming at each other soon enough, if indeed we ever stop.

God help Ukraine. God help us all.