The Western media provides 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 most important characters on this drama, Presidents Putin and Zellensky, are male and when a male is threatened by one other male he needs to point out his power 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 middle 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 battle 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 individuals of fact, 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 a logo of power 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 Flawed.” Within the article she says,
“If the historical past of strongmen is any indication, it could be downhill for the Russian chief from right here. Exerting this type of energy can lead an autocrat like Vladimir Putin to imagine 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 exhibits the tens of millions of feminine refuges fleeing Ukraine with their kids. It fails to point out the ladies who’ve chosen to remain and battle and the lads who would possibly select to go away if there wasn’t a legislation that forestalls 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 informed residents they have been on a coaching train, a kind of residents, an older lady in a white hat and puffy black jacket, walked as much as a lot of Russian troopers carrying AK-74Ms.
“Take these seeds and put them in your pockets,”
“so at the least sunflowers will develop while you all lie down right here.”
The video was considered 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 in opposition to different males encased in armor, not little outdated girls 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 wish to arm the David’s of the world to defeat the Goliath’s would possibly 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 would possibly nicely determine kill and be killed, and take lots of people on this planet with him, fairly 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 solution 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, not too long ago wrote an article, “What Would Gandhi Do in Ukraine?” He quotes Gandhi who mentioned,
“Non-violence is the best power 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 Secure,” he says,
“A romanticized perception in violence renders individuals irrational to the purpose of wounding ourselves, again and again.”
He goes on to say,
“One of the fashionable — and harmful — assumptions on this planet is that violence retains us protected. I reside in the US, a rustic the place the extra weapons now we have, the much less protected we’re. That helps me to note irrational assumptions that stop artistic thought.”
Individuals like Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., the Dalai Lama, Mom Teresa, and tens of millions of lesser-known women and men all through historical past have proven that non-violent responses can’t solely be brave and simply, however can be efficient in stopping aggression.
The Ukrainian individuals have needed to face Putin’s aggression earlier than and have ready for it. In 2015, the Kiev Worldwide Institute of Sociology (KIIS) performed 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 alternative of resistance amongst Ukrainians was to hitch nonviolent resistance: 29% supported this alternative 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 nicely rely on how these two methods play out.
As a way to discover a peaceable answer we’d like a extra nuanced understanding of what causes males like Vladimir Putin to go to struggle that goes past the easy David and Goliath narrative. Females typically supply a perspective that’s missing when males face off in opposition to one another. The comic, Elayne Boosler, provided a humorous and insightful perspective when she mentioned,
“When ladies get depressed, they eat or buy groceries. Males invade one other nation. It’s an entire completely different mind-set.”
Ruth Ben-Ghiat’s ebook Strongmen provides necessary insights. One other lady, Rebecca Costa, creator of The Watchman’s Rattle, reminds us of a bigger historic perspective that may assist us perceive Putin’s fears and considerations.
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 take care of a buffer between Europe and themselves. However on the finish of the Chilly Battle Gorbachev allowed Russian managed buffer zones to develop 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 troublesome to see why the invasion of Ukraine is being in comparison with the Cuban Missile Disaster that threatened the US,”
“Cuba was a sovereign nation however we have 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 assist individuals everywhere in the world who need peace and freedom, and to discover a solution to present that human beings are a species worthy of tens of millions extra years of evolutionary life on planet Earth. Vladimir Putin have to be stopped, however now we have to search out artistic methods to assume outdoors the restrictive field that the David and Goliath fable forces us into.
Timothy Snyder is professor of historical past at Yale College and the creator of quite a few books together with On Tyranny: Classes from the 20th Century. He’s additionally an knowledgeable in Russian and Ukrainian research. Within the ebook he says,
“The Founding Fathers tried to guard us from the risk they knew, the tyranny that overcame historic democracy. At this time, our political order faces new threats, not in contrast to the totalitarianism of the 20 th century. We are not any wiser than the Europeans who noticed democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism. Our one benefit is that we would study from their expertise.”
In Ukraine, we see tyranny in motion and we surprise what we are able to do to assist preserve the Ukrainian individuals alive and their nation free. In a current article, “Serving to Ukrainians Instantly,” he provides methods everybody will help defend life and convey about peace. We are able to additionally keep in mind that being with them means sharing a number of the burden of struggle till peace prevails.
I sit up for your responses and feedback. You’ll be able to study extra about my work at MenAlive and our “Moonshot Mission for Mankind and Humanity.”