The penultimate war in Europe was in the 1990s, a civil and secessionist war in the former Yugoslavia. That was a shock, after all, we thought there would never be fighting in Europe again, that we had learned en masse. Unfortunately, it was not and is not that simple. And now, for the first time since World War II, there is an attack on another country, a war between two countries, within Europe. We didn't expect it, to this extent. Even until just before Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, few people took into account this scale of aggression.
The obviousness of comfort declines, for some a little earlier and a little more than for others
The misery of the civilians on the ground, the images, the panic, the bombings, the refugee flows, the destruction, the dead and wounded. Stories of power and powerlessness, a nightmare, a repetition of other wars. Those who experienced them feel their old wounds again and see the parallels. And everyone feels fear and is anxious. Here too, physically at a safe distance from this new war.
We should not expect attacks by army troops here. What we will notice is that we can do less with the contents of our wallets. Gas prices are rising even more, inflation is rising. The naturalness of comfort is diminishing, for some sooner and a bit more than for others. The first to notice it are the people with a small wallet. Many artists belong to that group. For people with low incomes, it will be difficult and hopefully, even in this crisis, financial compensation will be possible for them. Our difficulty is nothing compared to the misery of the Ukrainians, it is something we have to deal with, have to deal.
Artists are well able to turn feelings of doubt, fear and uncertainty into something they and others can experience
Power and powerlessness. How do we continue to believe in the life we live, the art we make and experience and in each new day? How can we deal with this immeasurable aggression coming from one person, a psychopath (How is it at all that psychopaths so often pull the strings and manage to mobilize so many followers?). We can remain hopeful, by doing good and by seeking comfort and distraction. To begin with the latter. Artists are well able to transform feelings of doubt, fear, and uncertainty into something they and others can experience, something that includes finding solace and distraction, but can also include criticism. Perhaps the best-known example is the Guernica of Picasso, but it can also be smaller: a drawing, a sculpture, music, literature, drama. In Art we trust.
What good can we do? Donate to relief organizations, demonstrating physically or online, keeping our children and grandchildren and cousins, neighbor girls and neighbor boys informed when they ask, taking their fears seriously and channeling them (through art, for example) so they can grow up safely into balanced adults. Who don't run helplessly after powerful psychopaths.