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Sunday 14 April |
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One month in: 7 powerful lessons from the war in Ukraine


Allison Bailey | NurPhoto | AFP

Cerith Gardiner - published on 03/27/22

It might be a modern-day war, but the lessons of conflict remain the same and should always be remembered.

Over a month ago it was unimaginable to think that major cities in Ukraine would be decimated by bombs, that millions of families would be separated from each other, and that people from all over the world would be welcoming refugees into their homes. Surely not in 2022?

And recent figures from Reuters estimate over thousands of lives have been lost, more than 10 million people have been displaced, and billions of dollars worth of damage has been done to the Eastern European country’s buildings and infrastructure.

Yet, here we are, more than a month into the conflict and we’ve learned a lot, and thought about issues that we’d never had to consider before. They are issues and lessons we can reflect on, pray about, and remember:

1People inherently want to help

The response to the conflict has been impressive. From donations flooding in, people getting in their cars laden with supplies and driving thousands of miles to help refugees, to thousands of kind-hearted individuals opening their doors to house displaced Ukrainian families.

It is tragic how a war can bring out the best in us, but it’s also reassuring to see that so many people choose compassion and generosity.

2Children are our shining light

It’s been horrifying to see some of the images coming out of Ukraine, especially to see families hurt or killed as they try to escape. It’s also been painful to see children saying their farewells to their fathers who stay behind to fight, not knowing if they’ll ever get to see them again.

However, among these sad stories, it’s been heartening to see some truly incredible children showing incredible strength and gratitude, such as the little girl who sang so beautifully in her bunker, and then went on to courageously sing to a crowd of thousands at a charity concert.

They are the glimmer of hope that is needed in dark times, and a reminder of what people fight for.

3The Church always steps up in times of need

A non-religious aid-worker friend who’s served for decades in conflict-ridden countries, including Sudan and Afghanistan, shared with me that whenever there is a war or natural disaster, the first people on the scene, regardless of the potential danger, are religious or Catholic charities. It is something that has always astonished her. And this has certainly been the case during this war — from the exceptional work from Caritas, to our very own editor-in-chief, Fr. Patrick Briscoe, who went to Poland to lend his support.

The Church is also dedicated to bringing about peace, and bringing an end to the war: The moving videos of hundreds praying the rosary on their knees, or rosaries being prayed around the world, and the recent decision to consecrate the Immaculate Heart of Mary to Russia and Ukraine. How wonderful it is to see that the Christian faith brings with it such an arsenal of powerful peaceful weapons that millions of people can use from around the world!

4Love always comes first

We’ve covered a few reports on individuals wanting to marry before joining the front line. The desire to unite before God during such fear and uncertainty proved more important than having the perfect wedding with the must-have dress. It is this love and commitment that not only binds a couple, but gives them strength to face trying times together.

5We need to look further afield

This war has raised many questions concerning support for countries in crisis. The obvious support of Ukraine from the world’s most powerful countries has made many people wonder why wars in other war-torn countries, such as Syria, Ethiopia, and the Yemen, have resulted in much less global public outcry.

People tend to care more when they themselves feel threatened, or when it’s something they can relate to. While this is probably human nature, it does make us think that we need to make a concerted effort to see everyone as brothers and sisters and look at situations that are less familiar to us to see how we can actively help.

6We should always stand up for what is right

Without going into all the history and complex politics of Russian/Ukrainian relations, Ukrainians have shown tremendous resistance and courage, and it has come at a tremendous cost.

The valuable lesson they have taught their children, and the rest of the world is you should always fight for what is right. And this has been happening in both Ukraine and Russia. So many Russian citizens have bravely taken to the streets to protest the war, stating it’s not in their name, and in doing so have risked imprisonment.

7There are always innocents on both sides of conflict

Sadly one leader’s decision reflects on their entire nation. This has led to much hatred being aimed at ordinary Russians who have had no say in the war, and may live in fear of speaking out.

To make matters worse, the heavy economic sanctions levied on Russia are leading to hardship for ordinary Russian citizens, people who may have loved ones being sent to fight in Ukraine, or who may be anxious about friends and family living in Ukraine.

It’s the typical scenario of a war, everyone loses. Let us remember that their are innocents on both sides and pray for all who are caught up in the conflict and all of its consequences.

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