Lucy Jensen

People are digging out maps and figuring out where this place is — Ukraine. Who are these people? They live so far away from us; aren’t we glad we are not them! They seem like a fiercely loyal people — they love their animals and children too. They are just like us, no matter the geographic boundaries.

“Help Ukraine!” The cry is echoed across social media with photos of children sleeping in underground shelters. (Common posting: “If mother were world leaders, this would not be happening…”) Folks are changing their status photos to sunflowers or the blue and yellow colors of Ukraine. The outcry is good, but what does it help truthfully, except to reinforce the power of public opinion? Does it feed the children and provide a roof over their heads? Does it nibble away at the psyche of the regime that is doing this? Hardly. If that were the case, they would not be doing it at all.

I have been forcing myself to stay current on this crisis, though it turns my stomach sour and hurts my heart — 1.5 million refugees and counting is no small number. The injuries and deaths are mounting. These innocent people have been cruelly forced out of their homes with nowhere to go. I can’t even imagine that horror. I have made myself look at the images of the crying couples being separated at train stations, at the tears of frightened children clutching adored soft toys, at the beloved live animals being transported as a priority package and never being left behind. These are all our people.

Neighboring countries seem to be stepping up to help with this unimaginable human crisis and logistical nightmare, although my father did note that, so far, England has done nothing except for political pontificating. There are small glimmers of hope from over there too. I read in the London Times that a mechanic from Kent and his ambulance buddy took a week off work, bought a school bus, filled it with supplies and were on their way to the Ukraine. They were also planning on bringing back some orphans with them that had nobody to care for them and nowhere to go; so, some people are doing amazing things to help the situation, maybe just not the fat cats.

Even Switzerland has stood up for Ukraine, and isn’t that a historical marker in the sand. Father and I spent a long time today talking about what might be next. Covid has, all of a sudden, taken a backburner to this enormous story. But what can we small people of the civilized world actually do? We can always do something; that’s my mantra. Always better to do something.

If you put your head in the sand and read about the new movies coming or the best way to lose weight, you are no better than the politicians who write useless articles in the New York Times and expect kudos for their point of view. We can all have opinions from the safety of our own beds. Opinions mean nothing.

I spent a couple of days checking out different ways to help and I came across a GoFundMe drive from actors Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis. Many of you may already know that Mila is Ukrainian. She came to the United States as a small child. The couple’s Hollywood status propelled their fundraiser to pledges of $9.3 million on the first day of launch, and that is no chump change. This shows you that the power of fame to push for change can be a real and lucrative effort. Their goal is $30 million, and they have already kicked in three big ones themselves. They are specifically raising money to benefit and

I was not familiar with the first organization; but I did my research to discover that Flexport is super bona fide and enables organizations to deliver shipments of relief supplies to the refugee sites across Eastern Europe. Airbnb naturally delivers housing, and that is a fundamental must to help the displaced people situate their families in a more civilized environment than just a shelter, while they figure out what they can do next.

Obviously, I am not a millionaire and cannot just hand over three big ones like Mila and Ashton can; but I admired their heart and spirit to not just comment that others should do something, but to do something themselves that will quickly assist the refugee situation. I donated and I hope to donate more in the coming weeks. Be present, be aware and share — that is the modern-day way of raising conscience and dollars to compound into a difference for others.

I shall keep reading the London Times and forcing myself to absorb the good stories as well as the bad; because if we felt that people were fundamentally bad, we might as well just situate ourselves under the proverbial rock and wait for something good that will never happen.

I have friends in Russia who are trying to leave for England. I hope for their safe passage. I have imaginary friends in Ukraine who have children and pets and who love life and freedom the way we do. I want to help those friends and encourage others to do the same. One people, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all … I’d like to think we could spread that maxim to the world at large and make freedom a priority where we can.

I send my deeply felt love and courage to Ukraine and a few dollars, which Mila and Ashton are going to double for me and make a larger difference than I ever could. I thank the people like them who are cheerleading these immeasurably valuable efforts to make a real difference in the world. I treasure any ability to translate love and caring into boots on the ground. I love anyone who can see outside their own small existence and work toward a better existence for others, strangers or not. It gives me hope that better days will come for the world and good will overcome evil.

Thanks for listening. Go to the GoFundMe site for Ashton and Mila to help Ukraine and make your pledge, however small. It’s the least any member of the civilized world should do.

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Soledad columnist Lucy Jensen may be reached at [email protected].


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