We will fight in the forests…

The Slavic workshop Treti Pivni (translated as Third Rooster) has done a remarkable photo series with women and children in traditional Ukrainian headdresses, Vinoks, a traditional and amazingly crafted flower crown, often worn by young women at their weddings. Treti Pivni is made up of photographers, stylists, and makeup artists who have fallen in love with this beautiful decorative tradition.

I hadn’t intended to write about the war in Ukraine, but as the conditions there have deteriorated, as they have become beyond shocking, I decided I couldn’t just ignore what was going on there. 

As I am a writer who loves telling stories, I thought I would make my point in that form.

A piece of ice lying on the frozen surface of Lake Baikal at dawn.

Once upon a time, a fatherless child emerged from an area of harsh mountains. 

He unified his people (no mean achievement for they were warring clans scattered over a huge landmass) and opened diplomatic relations with the Persian Empire (the largest kingdom in the Middle East in its day.) When the Persian Shah executed one of his senior diplomats, he reacted by invading with a force estimated to be between 90,000 and 200,00 men.

Of course, he wanted to exact revenge by capturing the plump cities along the Silken Road so that he could control the trade that flowed the 6,000 miles along its route. 

Capturing these cities made sense. But, in a furious rage, he decided to crush each city to dust and murder every person inside. And not only did he and his men kill each person inside each city, but they also returned a few hours later to murder those few who managed to survive the initial onslaught.

In this manner, Burkara and Samarkand fell to him in 1220, Kyiv (1240), Aleppo (1260) fell to his sons, and Moscow (1382) fell in the twilight years of the empire he founded.

Several centuries later, another fatherless child emerged from a humble village in Austria. He had dreams of being an artist, and when that didn’t work out, he went into politics. During an exceptionally troubled time, he resonated with his people. His charisma and fiery speeches elevated him up into the echelons of power, and eventually, he assumed total control over his country.

When he marched into a demilitarized zone in 1936, people said “Oh dear, that’s a pity.”

When he marched into a neighboring country, he was met with flowers.

When he dismembered a third country, people looked on uneasily. They tried everything they could to negotiate with him, to get him to stop. They took him at his word, believing him to be a gentleman. However, he was a consummate liar who never kept his word.

Finally, when he marched into a fourth country, war was declared. 

By now, I’m sure that all of this seems chillingly familiar. What havoc just one person can wreak if he chooses to, especially if that person is a devilish combination of Genghis Khan and Adolf Hitler.

Let us hope that Vladimir Putin either comes to his senses or is forced to do so by the draconian sanctions imposed upon Russia and the tenacity of the Ukrainian people under the brilliant leadership of their president Volodymyr Zelensky.

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