There's still a war going on in Ukraine. While we spend our time mulling over whether or not to commit to our county's mask mandate, and make jokes about our President getting COVID for the second time, there is a war going on in Ukraine. The shooting kind. The killing kind. The dying kind.
Nearly three hundred civilian casualties over the month of July. Almost nine hundred were injured. This is down considerably from March, when more than three thousand died and more than two thousand were injured. I know, I know. Approximately one hundred Americans die every day from gunfire, so what makes this such a big deal?
Guns, artillery, rockets. The numbers from Ukraine are all innocent bystanders. Non-combatants. Not that Russia makes any particular distinction in this realm. Russia seems to be content to let the days and weeks go by as the body count climbs. Maybe Russia believes that once the streets and towns are free of Ukrainians, then the Russian flag can be raised and the war will be won. Maybe that is what Russia believes.
I keep saying "Russia" as if there were some sort of collective or hive mind behind the destruction and death. There isn't. It's pretty much one guy: Vladimir Putin, whose virility and ego seem to be dually invested in this invasion. There hasn't been much in the way of justification for the past few months after starting out with the insistence that Ukraine was full of Nazis who had to be eliminated. Once that was pretty solidly beaten back by common sense and most media affiliates, Vladimir decided to continue as if there was some political or military slight that was being corrected by the continued bombardment of his neighbors.
I thought about the feeling I get when I walk past the upholstery shop a couple blocks away, the one that burned out in a fire a few months back. Then I tried to imagine what that feeling would be magnified by entire city blocks. And the endless string of funerals for men, women, and children who had the misfortune of living in range.
And how did Ukraine's president and his wife respond to this continued onslaught? They showed up on the cover of Vogue. Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Olena Zelenska are pictured together and apart, in and out of the capital, promoting their country and their cause. Some will talk. Some will roll their eyes, but I believe this is exactly how they will survive. They will do what is necessary to keep Ukraine from slipping to the back pages. All is fair in love and fashion, after all.