Finding Strength

The events in Ukraine over the past 10 days have been unsettling and worrying, to say the least. Conflicts such as this are unfortunately not a new phenomenon, but this one has drawn particular attention from Canadians due to our membership in NATO. As I watch the news, there is too much agony for me to process. I know that some members of our community have friends or family in the region or have Ukrainian or Russian heritage; if this includes you, my heart goes out to you.

Hundreds of thousands of innocent people have been subjected to the fear and destruction of war, senselessly and without provocation. Ukrainians of all ages have been called upon to be courageous -- not because they want to, but because they have no choice. The English word “courage” comes from the Latin root “cor,” meaning “heart.” The Ukrainian people are demonstrating acts of fortitude of the heart as they protect their homeland, their families and their communities. 

My hope is that the aggressors will lay down their weapons, peace will be restored and the vulnerable people of Ukraine can return and rebuild. In the meantime, many of us are summoning our own courage to process this news and what it means, both for Ukraine and globally. 

As disheartening as the news of Russia’s invasion has been, seeing so many people eager to help has helped me to retain my faith in humanity. One of my dear friends is Head of School at the American International School of Bucharest in Romania; many of his students are Russian or Ukrainian, and students and staff at his school are working together to prepare to welcome an influx of Ukrainian refugees into their community. Meanwhile, Marek Mahdal, a 22-year-old student, drove 770 km from Prague to the Ukrainian border with two friends to offer refugees rides and help finding food, shelter and work. 

While the events in Ukraine are much bigger than all of us, we each have the power to contribute to the greater good in small but meaningful ways. This article from The Globe and Mail contains suggestions on how you can help, from supporting a verified fundraising campaign to researching your news sources and avoiding the spread of disinformation. You may find that doing so also boosts your overall well-being -- an amazing thing about the human spirit.

When we’re faced with events that are both scary and out of our control, we sometimes need to borrow strength or seek comfort from others, and that’s not only okay, but encouraged. There is no shame in asking for help when you need it. I am grateful to Greenwood’s Jack Chapter, who are providing opportunities this week for students and staff to learn more about the importance of caring for our mental health this week and teaching us how to do so. In prioritizing self-care, we can find strength.

Be well, and I know you join me in wishing for peace to be restored.

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