The spotlight is on Russians.
Why did they allow a man like Putin to gather so much personal power?
Why did Russians give up their own power, giving it instead to Putin to do as he wishes?
Because they did, Putin went on unchecked, dreaming of recreating the Soviet Union.
And Ukraine has been ravaged with devastating brutality.
Russian foes of Putin’s rule have existed all along. Some have died, others are in prison, like Alexei Navalny.
A nation of great vitality, of considerable talent and inventiveness, has succumbed to a vulgar leader, a small man with dreams of ruling the world.
But Putin is not Russia.
And the rest of us need to be very clear about that.
To be Russian today is to admit that, as a people, they failed to summon the political courage needed to stop Putin’s rise to power.
To be Russian today is to admit that political courage is a priceless quality, and that without it freedom is not possible.
To be Russian today is to remind the world that without such courage life is diminished, and men like Putin will use the opportunity for their own aggrandizement.
To be Russian today is to admit that there is a critical time to dissent, and that means confronting the fear of reprisals.
To be Russian today is to remind us all that such fear exists in every one of us and that it must be confronted.
The fate of humanity depends on many things: hard work, inventiveness, compassion and the acknowledgment that every single one of us has something to contribute.
But without political courage, without the power to dissent, vulgar men will seek to dominate others by brute force.
Without political courage, all of humanity’s achievements can be destroyed.
The devastation in Ukraine today is happening because all of us, not just Russians, failed to object to the rise of a tyrant.
To be Russian today is to remind us that we’re all vulnerable to succumb to fear, and that standing up to it is a priceless quality upon which the survival of the planet depends.
The massacre in Ukraine, like the subjugation of any people anywhere, is a call to the rest of us to affirm our humanity and give assistance to all who are being forced to be silent.
Here in America, the forces of darkness elevated Trump, and he responded by trying to overturn his electoral defeat.
So we, too, like Russians, have failed to exercise our political courage.
The power to dissent is the road to freedom. And freedom the only path to the realization of humanity’s endless possibilities.
To be Russian today is to be anyone of us.
Oscar Valdes, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts