Since starting my job at the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation, I have received mixed feedback about my work. Mostly, it's positive—but I'm always left aghast at the few adverse reactions to my support for Ukraine.
Whether it has to do with political agendas or begging the question, "Why do you support this country and not that country?," there always seems to be a hole to poke or a motive to question.
There is often this human tendency to be cynical or suspicious before becoming compassionate. I think it's because we are deeply afraid to open our eyes and hearts to the suffering humanity faces. We're scared it will rob us of something. Or we're afraid it will remind us of our own suffering. It's hard to open your heart if it's already broken. It's easier to say, "I have enough problems of my own than to care about this."
To care about anything at all requires an element of vulnerability.
But if we ask, "Why do you care about this country that isn't yours?"
Is the question not, "Why do you care about something that doesn't affect you?"
If my answers, "I care because I care about the people in Ukraine being persecuted unjustly," or "Because it's the right thing to do," or simply "I just do," are not enough, I could answer this question with another question.
Why do we care about outer space? We care about the cosmos and galaxies that earth will never cross, yet we study, observe, we care.
Ukraine is not a faraway galaxy. It's here on earth, with millions of innocent people and their rich culture, traditions, language, music, fashions, faith, communities, and all that is being threatened.
Am I supposed to close my eyes to this and pretend it's not happening just because the country isn't mine?
When you do start caring about something outside of yourself, you can't help but see the world differently, like through the window of a spaceship. You feel humbled and small, and you notice your own humanity.
You start caring more. You notice how everyone else is also human, how basic human needs like food, water, and shelter, and the inherent right to safety and freedom - you have so much of and others have so little.
And then you will have the crushing realization that you are no one's savior, you can't even come close you can't be the change alone; but you'll happily settle for being that drop in the bucket.
So if human compassion isn't enough of an incentive, what many don't realize is that what is happening in Ukraine will affect the whole world. In any case, my response will always be, "We should care; we have to care."
I'm proud of the work we have done so far USUF is providing immediate needs to the people in Ukraine who need it most.
To the beautiful country that deserves all the freedom and peace: Slava Ukraini! 🇺🇦