Give Beets A Chance?
We are suddenly international peace thinkers on alert - we study maps of Eastern Europe on our laptops, retweet memes of Vladimir Putin, and search our closets for anything yellow. Anything blue. We read. We watch documentaries. We donate money. We propose to know what's going on, what needs to be done, what looks like a win, and what looks like an immeasurable loss.
The more I think I know about Ukraine v Russia, the more I know I don't know. Every time I dig in, I uncover something that requires 15 additional Googles to understand. Where, I wonder, was my attention in 2014 during Ukraine's Maidan Revolution? Why, I ask my husband, can I not answer your question about the fairness of pre-Maidan elections for Ukranians? What, it is impossible to fathom, kept me from learning about 1941 Babi Yar from a teacher or a parent? How, it seems prudent to imagine, does Vladimir Putin respond when he's cornered by the world?
So much angsty despair for people on the sidelines of this war/these headlines/an internet exploding with things to see that we cannot un-see when we close our eyes at night.
I have been honored to be in three peace-pondering conversations this week. One with a group of brilliant theologizers/writers/preachers/activists whose words have been illuminating. They have offered light-on-the-path kinds of words that don't brighten the day enough to change the forecast of tragedy, but light up enough to help me wander into the dusty corners of my brain and re-think some assumptions. I am always grateful for those lanterns of wisdom.
The second has been with a tour guide who drove me around Moscow one Spring day in 2013. My husband and I had made a quick trip to see our son play music on two Russian stages. With only one day in Moscow, we decided to hire Ivan (not his real name) to show us around the city. Ivan, like every other Russian we met on our trip, was kind and generous and very eager to share the magnificence of Moscow. I initiated an email with Ivan late last week, mostly to check on his safety, but also to see if I could find out what news he was hearing about Ukraine. He was quick to respond, and has continued to respond to my replies this week. Regardless of my push toward opening our minds together, and thinking beyond our Western/Eastern media biases, Ivan professes great admiration for Vladimir Putin and 100% skepticism of Western "fake news." Neither of which make me less fond of my Ivan memories. It just makes me sad. For all of us.
Then came the third conversation. Today. About borscht. A text from a friend telling me of her friend serving borscht today in Poland. To Ukranian refugees. A guy who had planned to be hiking Patagonia this week, but decided to re-think his itinerary so he could lend a hand to World Central Kitchen's work on Ukraine's border.
200 gallons of borscht, in case you're curious =
100 lbs beef + 200 lbs potato + 8 gallons pickles + 10 lbs horseradish + 40 lbs sauerkraut + 1 lb salt + 50 lbs beets + 20 gallons water
If you are among the despairing in the USA this week, send an email to the smartest person you know. Expect a response that will challenge you to think a little harder about people and politics and peace.
Also... make a pot of borscht in honor of the Ukranian people and all humanitarians who are showing up to serve them.
Yes, America, we can eat beets. We are the world. We are all Ukranians.