Anti-War Perceptions Wrinkled
Unaware that the Ukraine is the largest country in Europe, I initially thought that Putin’s Leviathan forces
would swallow the Ukraine whole. Then I was reminded of the Roman siege of Masada. The Romans
considered Judaea one of their rightful colonies, part and parcel of their empire. Who were these upstart Jewish zealots to imagine themselves a separate entity and hold out against the Romans after the fall of their capitol, Jerusalem, in 70 CE? Rome punished the rebels, surrounding the Mesa to which they retreated, laid siege, and gradually won the war 3 years later. Oh so much to think about.
The Ukrainians may or may not be a special breed. But, like the Jews pinned down at Masada, they are
likely to prefer death to subjugation.
There was no NATO or America to dial up for help in 70 CE. But the Ukrainians have almost a world of allies,weird as it is to say this. The reporting from Masada was thanks to one captured Jew, Flavius Josephus. The Masada story hung on a thread of his single pen, unlike the meteor shower of news coverage helping us bear witness to the Ukraine’s daily triumph and tragedy.
Witnessing. What does it mean today for those of us with antiwar inclinations? Here I struggle. Here I
wrinkle. It has to mean, minimally, setting our minds on hard-won information gathered by reporters
risking their lives to peer into the fog of war. The opposite of witnessing is denial of an outrageous war
profiting elusive oligarchs. And now I witness myself witnessing. I see myself laying aside my antiwar-ism and identifying with a society flogged by brute history. Today I must help Ukrainians not be composted under the boots of a presumptuous neighbor.