The Western media presents a narrative that the invasion of Ukraine by Russian President Vladimir Putin is a battle between David and Goliath, which I feel is partially true, however largely false. It is correct that the 2 principal characters on this drama, Presidents Putin and Zellensky, are male and when a male is threatened by one other male he needs to indicate his energy and get the opposite male to again down.
However this isn’t a David and Goliath battle the place, because the story goes, David hurls a stone from his sling and hits Goliath within the heart of his brow and Goliath falls on his face. David then, cuts off his head, and the Israelites drive the Philistines out of their nation.
In actual life Ukraine, just one man is placing his life on the road to defend his nation and that man is Volodymyr Zelensky. President Putin stays protected in Moscow, whereas sending younger, Russian troopers to combat his battle. Internationally acclaimed historian, Ruth Ben-Ghiat, describes Vladimir Putin and males like him in her ebook, Strongmen: Mussolini to the Current.
“Ours is the age of the authoritarian rulers,”
“They’re self-proclaimed saviors of the nation who evade accountability whereas robbing their folks of reality, treasure, and the protections of democracy.”
In her ebook she describes seventeen authoritarian Strongmen together with Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler, Muammar Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein, Donald Trump, and Vladimir Putin.
“All of them promise legislation and order,”
“then legitimize lawbreaking by monetary, sexual, and different predators. They use masculinity as an emblem of energy and a political weapon. Taking what you need, and getting away with it, turns into proof of male authority.”
The David and Goliath fable is one which in the end depends on violence between opposing males. Clearly an armed assault by troopers is being met by an armed response, however there’s a completely different actuality being performed out in Ukraine that provides potential for peace that’s completely different from the male-to-male confrontation of the David and Goliath fable.
On February 26, 2022, two days after Vladimir Putin despatched Russian troops into Ukraine, Ben-Ghiat wrote an opinion piece for MSNBC titled, “Putin Thinks He’s the Hero of Russia’s story. He Couldn’t Be Extra Mistaken.” Within the article she says,
“If the historical past of strongmen is any indication, it might be downhill for the Russian chief from right here. Exerting this type of energy can lead an autocrat like Vladimir Putin to consider his personal propaganda and act on his worst impulses.”
The information headlines focus totally on the violent destruction by Putin’s aggression and the valiant protection of male troopers defending their homeland. It additionally reveals the hundreds of thousands of feminine refuges fleeing Ukraine with their youngsters. It fails to indicate the ladies who’ve chosen to remain and combat and the boys who may select to depart if there wasn’t a legislation that stops males between the ages of 18 and 60 from leaving the nation.
However what is completely uncared for within the David and Goliath reporting is the substantial actuality of non-violent responses to the aggression demonstrated by women and men in Ukraine. Shortly after the invasion by Russian troopers who advised residents they had been on a coaching train, a type of residents, an older lady in a white hat and puffy black jacket, walked as much as a variety of Russian troopers carrying AK-74Ms.
“Take these seeds and put them in your pockets,”
“so a minimum of sunflowers will develop if you all lie down right here.”
The video was seen greater than 8.5 million instances on the Twitter account of the tiny Ukrainian information service that first posted it. Aggressors like Putin think about their armies in heroic battles towards different males encased in armor, not little previous women in puffy black jackets wielding seeds or males going through down tanks.
Advocates of pacifism and nonviolence are sometimes ridiculed as naïve, as harmful, and even as unpatriotic cowards. That’s actually what number of of those that need to arm the David’s of the world to defeat the Goliath’s may view non-violent resistance in Ukraine. Clearly, there are occasions when a violent response is critical. Few males or ladies would stand by and watch family members murdered if they’d a gun to guard these they love. However violence normally begets extra violence. An remoted, fearful, despot like Vladimir Putin may effectively resolve kill and be killed, and take lots of people on this planet with him, moderately than face the disgrace of backing down.
In fifty-plus years as a psychotherapist I’ve labored with many offended, depressed, and violent males who really feel others have disrespected and shamed them. I do know that portray such males right into a nook with no technique to escape apart from killing themselves and others, is a hazard to be prevented in any respect prices. Non-violent motion might in the end contribute to an actual path to peace the place everybody’s wants are heard and supported.
My colleague and fellow author, Ed Frauenheim, just lately wrote an article, “What Would Gandhi Do in Ukraine?” He quotes Gandhi who mentioned,
“Non-violence is the best drive on the disposal of mankind. It’s mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.”
In George Lakey’s current article, “The Harmful Assumption That Violence Retains Us Protected,” he says,
“A romanticized perception in violence renders folks irrational to the purpose of injuring ourselves, time and again.”
He goes on to say,
“One of the vital widespread — and harmful — assumptions on this planet is that violence retains us protected. I reside in the USA, a rustic the place the extra weapons we’ve, the much less protected we’re. That helps me to note irrational assumptions that stop inventive thought.”
Individuals like Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., the Dalai Lama, Mom Teresa, and hundreds of thousands of lesser-known women and men all through historical past have proven that non-violent responses cannot solely be brave and simply, however can be efficient in stopping aggression.
The Ukrainian folks have needed to face Putin’s aggression earlier than and have ready for it. In 2015, the Kiev Worldwide Institute of Sociology (KIIS) carried out a consultant nationwide survey that for the primary time ever assessed Ukrainians’ preferences for resistance in case of a international armed invasion and occupation of their nation. The survey confirmed that the preferred selection of resistance amongst Ukrainians was to affix nonviolent resistance: 29% supported this selection of motion in case of international armed aggression. In distinction, armed resistance was supported by 24%. Clearly each sorts of resistance are happening now. Discovering peace might effectively rely on how these two methods play out.
With a view to discover a peaceable resolution we’d like a extra nuanced understanding of what causes males like Vladimir Putin to go to battle that goes past the straightforward David and Goliath narrative. Females typically supply a perspective that’s missing when males face off towards one another. The comic, Elayne Boosler, supplied a humorous and insightful perspective when she mentioned,
“When ladies get depressed, they eat or buy groceries. Males invade one other nation. It’s a complete completely different mind-set.”
Ruth Ben-Ghiat’s ebook Strongmen presents essential insights. One other lady, Rebecca Costa, writer of The Watchman’s Rattle, reminds us of a bigger historic perspective that may assist us perceive Putin’s fears and issues.
In a current dialogue on The Costa Report she famous,
“It’s an indisputable fact that Russia has been invaded by Europe twice in two centuries, as soon as by Napoleon and later by Hitler. Following the second assault in World Battle II, Russia vowed to keep up a buffer between Europe and themselves. However on the finish of the Chilly Battle Gorbachev allowed Russian managed buffer zones to change into sovereign states. There was an understanding that the West wouldn’t push into the sovereign states. However this didn’t keep true for lengthy. As Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic joined NATO, adopted by Bulgaria, Slovakia, Croatia and the Baltic states of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, that share borders with Russia. The extra NATO moved eastward, the extra threatened Putin grew to become, till all that was left as a buffer was Belarus, Chrimea and Ukraine.”
“It’s not tough to see why the invasion of Ukraine is being in comparison with the Cuban Missile Disaster that threatened the USA,”
“Cuba was a sovereign nation however we had been totally ready to enter it to take out Soviet missiles pointed at our nation.”
These are completely different instances and the world faces completely different challenges. Considering past the binary of David and Goliath will problem us all to hear deeply to those that might have completely different views than our personal, to help folks all around the world who need peace and freedom, and to discover a technique to present that human beings are a species worthy of hundreds of thousands extra years of evolutionary life on planet Earth. Vladimir Putin should be stopped, however we’ve to search out inventive methods to suppose exterior the restrictive field that the David and Goliath fable forces us into.
Timothy Snyder is professor of historical past at Yale College and the writer of quite a few books together with On Tyranny: Classes from the 20th Century. He’s additionally an skilled in Russian and Ukrainian research. Within the ebook he says,
“The Founding Fathers tried to guard us from the menace they knew, the tyranny that overcame historical democracy. Right this moment, our political order faces new threats, not in contrast to the totalitarianism of the 20 th century. We aren’t any wiser than the Europeans who noticed democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism. Our one benefit is that we would be taught from their expertise.”
In Ukraine, we see tyranny in motion and we surprise what we are able to do to assist hold the Ukrainian folks alive and their nation free. In a current article, “Serving to Ukrainians Instantly,” he presents methods everybody may also help defend life and convey about peace. We are able to additionally do not forget that being with them means sharing a number of the burden of battle till peace prevails.
I look ahead to your responses and feedback. You’ll be able to be taught extra about my work at MenAlive and our “Moonshot Mission for Mankind and Humanity.”