It’s okay to observe a war without forming an immediate opinion.
In fact, immediatism is the enemy of critical thinking. By all means, have your opinion. Just avoid a knee-jerk reaction.
Note: this post has nothing to do with Ukrainians, Russians, people related to Ukrainians or Russians or anyone at all who has any substantial relationship with the region where the war is happening. If your family / inner circle / etc is in danger in the war, it’s perfectly understandable for you to talk about it in first person. This post is about complete outsiders.
I usually worry about people on the internet who talk about the war as if they were physically there. I wonder if they’re okay. It feels like visiting a créche full of unattended 5-year-olds. In fact, it’s often these people’s inner children who are coming back to the surface indeed, because times of chaos tend to ask for that — everything you’ve been repressing since childhood comes back to confront you. “Will you finally listen now?”, says the inner child. And most people choose to stay stubborn and keep neglecting their inner child, even during scary times. That’s why they project all their internal issues onto external events.
In other words: please calm down. This is a war in Ukraine. Don’t make it about you as an individual. Yes I know you’re probably fighting your own internal war, and it must be very difficult. But try to look at the world with objectivity. I’m saying that for your own good. I come in peace, I don’t mean to judge anyone. I’m just concerned.
And the reason I worry isn’t the fact these opinionated commentators are self-absorbed. Self-absorption isn’t a sin, we’ve all been there, nobody is a saint. Instead, what makes me worry is the fact they’re having an opportunity now to acknowledge and heal their inner wounds, yet choose not to. They’re choosing to continue the toxic vicious cycle, stay in the comfort zone, and keep desperately trying to prove to the world (or worldwide web anyway) how saint, how pure, how evolved and attuned to social justice or conspiracy theories or [insert other strawman here] they are — exactly because they couldn’t bear to admit their shadows, their humanity, their fallibility.
And the biggest irony is: none of those “ugly” “negative” things are actually ugly or negative. They’re just uncomfortable, but they’re a natural side of us. Perhaps the church taught you it’s shameful to admit you didn’t know enough about an injustice because it’s a sin to turn a blind eye to injustice or whatever, but it was a lie. This act of staying privileged and oblivious doesn’t make you an evil person, it makes you a fallible human being. We make mistakes. It’s okay. It isn’t the end of the world. Take a deep breath. And for heaven’s sake TAKE YOUR TIME to right this wrong. Don’t just jump head-first into the nearest exit from discomfort, because predators can be lurking there.
If you believe it’s sinful to be anything other than perfect and pure like an angel (which in today’s internet lingo means “fairness and inclusivity at all times”)*, then you’re probably going to wear the hell out of that angel mask and pretend it’s your real face. But the problem with pretending is: you don’t actually become this ideal you’re pretending to already be. You can’t. The only way to get closer to an ideal is by first of all admitting you have a long way to go to get there, and that implies you’re imperfect and have a dark side. But dogma says dark side is bad and will be judged by the crowd, so we hide it instead of actually dealing with it.
And that’s not just for Christians, internalised Christianity is cultural, it’s in every westerner. Neopagans and occultists included. Atheists included.
*A necessary tangent: I could go on and on about how “inclusivity” in this day and age is nothing more than a capitalistic scam. You’re being fooled and controlled like a puppet to believe that individuals should behave like corporations, because corporations somehow have a duty to cater to every kind of customer, or they run the risk of being “not profitable enough”. And when individuals take on that same burden, they start believing they should be able to cater to every underdog they ever meet in life, or we run the risk of “not being nice and fair and saint enough”. It’s as if we were all trying to sell an image of perfection to the underdog “customers” in the world — but for applause instead of money. People end up adopting opinions on a whim even if they still aren’t informed enough to tell what’s the real oppression and what’s the opportunistic conman. This becomes even more obvious when conflicts escalate and become wars.
So here’s your reminder that you’re an individual. You aren’t a corporation. You can only have one brain, one life story, and one path. You can and you should stay “on the fence” about things you still don’t understand well enough. You can and you should refer the poor and oppressed you aren’t well-equipped to help, to other people who have more experience than you in helping them. If that means all you can do is help send food and first aid to Ukraine, then you’re allowed to do just that without going beyond that, without aiming for absolute perfection in opinion when it comes to who started the war, who deserves what, and so on. These things are in the field of ideas, and ideas tweeted on a smartphone won’t feed mouths or help the innocent bystanders who got hurt.
Let’s be brutally honest: ideas tweeted on a smartphone help no-one other than your ego. Unless you’re an influencer turned impromptu journalist who happens to be stranded in Ukraine — in that case go for it.