How can I stop the wheel, how can I break the wheel, before it rolls over their innocent lives with crushing indifference?
The history of humanity is cyclical, and generally I’ve viewed its nadirs from a safe, temporal distance. It’s a wheel of power-hungry men, only concerned with their own purposes, spinning endlessly for thousands of years. But now, as a nuclear-powered dictator attempts to march across Europe, starting with Ukraine, I feel its crushing force.
I’ve been holding my phone, consuming too many videos on Twitter of Russians and Ukrainians at war. The wheel grows heavier, spinning faster. The lighthearted jokes about World War III aren’t nearly as funny as nuclear tensions rise and countries across the world are choosing sides.
The last time I felt the weight of war this heavily I was in sixth grade, and my brother was on an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf. My family huddled around the TV, watching the grainy footage of air raids in Iraq, and the once distant world of combat and conflict was alive in my home. The sobbing of my mom is still loud in my ears while my dad and I shrugged, feeling powerless to help.
The wheel spun as I learned about Scud missiles in my sixth-grade class the morning after. The wheel spun while we purchased yellow ribbons to tie on the tree. It spun as we bought banners to hang on the house.
I felt the wheel these past two years as the United States confronted a global pandemic with nothing but ideology and dissent, sparking racial tensions, and highlighting social failures we’d rather not confront. We eagerly tear ourselves apart because piss-poor leaders seek to divide us only to serve their own selfish pursuits, all at the cost of us, and all threatening the future of the children to whom we’ve devoted our lives.
Sacrifices in for man’s lust for power
I’m not proud of some of these videos I’ve recently watched. I’ve seen the faces of the dead.
They seem so young. Just kids. Kids sent to fight either at the service of a dictator or against one, but both youthful victims of war.
These are sons who once only worried about which classmate would pick him for the school yard game. These are daughters whose main concern was how long it took to get her turn on the swing. Now they’re the fallen. Blood spilled because the powerful said so.
I’m desperate to know how I can protect my children from meeting the same fate. How can I stop the wheel before it rolls over their innocent lives with crushing indifference? Better yet, I feel one, overwhelming goal: “I’m not going to stop the wheel. I’m going to break the wheel.”
I’m also compelled to confess my hypocrisy. Why haven’t other world crises brought me to this emotional state?
The unending turmoil between Israel and Palestine.
The civil war in Syria.
The genocides and civil wars consuming many parts of Africa.
The concentration camps and genocides in China.
Maybe I resonate with Ukraine because they look like me? Could I be guilty of not having empathy for people of different culture and color? Maybe, and it’s hard for me to type that sentence. Maybe the war in Ukraine is scarier because it has the ability to directly impact me — selfishness I’m sad to admit.
Will you break the wheel? Will your kids?
Whatever the catalyst may be, the fire burns, and my rage at the wheel is near blinding. My own apathy and inaction will be the demons I’ll confront, but what about my kids? What about your kids?
We’re parents raising the next generation of cannon fodder. How do we protect them from the machinations of geopolitics? How will they be more than pawns in the hands of the powerful? What can we as parents do to stop this wheel and rescue our children, and by proxy all children, from being consumed by the generational inheritance of wars and endless bullshit?
I have no answers, my friends. I’m spent. Empty. Maybe you feel the same. Hug your kids a little tighter today, and every day after.
You know your kids deserve more from you. The world desperately needs a generation with fresh ideas and renewed vision and courage. But can it come from me? Can it from you? I hope so.
Let’s renew our commitment to the next generation to do our very best to rescue them from our failures. We may not be the first to confront the world’s great challenges, but maybe we can find a little spark of optimism. Maybe that spark can start a fire of hope, one that gives us all the courage to stand up to the wheel, and break it once and for all.
How to help those in need in Ukraine
- Americares Ukraine Crisis Fund – Helps deliver medicine, medical supplies and emergency funding to support families and people affected by the Ukraine crisis.
- Save The Children’s Ukraine Relief Fund – Helps provide children and families in Ukraine with immediate aid, such as food, water, hygiene kits, psychosocial support and cash assistance.
- Voices of the Children – Provides assistance to affected children and families from all over the country, providing emergency psychological assistance, and assisting in the evacuation process.