If ever we needed to believe that our leaders have our backs, it is now. The past few years have been unsettling for most of the world, for many, many reasons over which we have no control. If your blood pressure has risen, it’s not surprising. Let’s take a look.
Inflation has hit big-time for the first time in decades, as supply chains have been strained. This is starting to have a significant impact on people and businesses right across the board.
Two years of the restrictions required to keep people (and healthcare systems) safe during a historic global pandemic have taken their toll on people’s patience, resources, and even friendships.
Disturbing levels of division, distrust, misinformation, and even hatred have changed the landscape in the United States, and now the 3 weeks of the “Freedom” Convoy occupation in Ottawa have forced Canadians to confront the hard reality that there is some of this percolating in Canada as well.
There’s no sign of stopping in the nearly 12 years of civil war in Syria, where the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad, has been relentless in continuing his brutal, inhumane crackdown on anti-government, pro-democracy dissent – on his own people, even if it means that there is no country left when he’s done. After all, he does have Putin to support him, and his home of course has not been bombed.
The Americans and allies withdrew from Afghanistan after a 20-year occupation and in the process left millions of Afghans to a life of fear and starvation in their own country.
Climate change has advanced to such an extent already that violent and historic weather events, wildfires, and droughts are a matter of fact. While al-Assad is overseeing the existential destruction of his own country, right around the world we are all witnessing the very possible existential destruction of our planet. Our planet.
And now we are confronted by a monumentally cruel, unprovoked attack on an independent country by one of the world’s major powers – and a nuclear power to boot. The invasion of Ukraine by Russia has horrified people right around the world. It’s David vs Goliath, democracy vs dictatorship, and the unnerving reality of Russia advancing across one of Europe’s borders, yet again.
One might stop and ask whether our reaction to Russia’s attack on Ukraine is out of proportion with the world’s reaction to the horror of what’s still going on in Syria and in several other parts of the world. In some ways, yes, but this particular invasion seems likely marks a change in the world order that has more or less been in place for the past 75 years, and specifically since the fall of the Soviet Union 30 years ago. Russia’s president-for-life has told the world that it is acceptable for his country to take over another European country, an independent country with a democratically elected government. And the reality is that several other European countries share borders with Russia. What might Putin do next?
As frightening and heartbreaking as this invasion is, there have been some heartening responses from around the world; seismic policy changes have been made in a matter of days. Perhaps these responses give a sense of what a new world order might be, one where countries really do come together to protect and support one another … and the planet.
- Ukraine’s President Zelenskiy, in standing up to Putin’s travesty with defiance and courage, has gained the respect and admiration of people around the world. Let’s hope that all our leaders have noticed that these are the qualities that people admire and respond to. It’s called leading by example. And what an impressive example he is. [Image source: vox.com]
- The realization that peace in Europe could no longer be taken for granted has motivated countries in Europe to shift important decades-long foreign policy in just days. Germany has dropped its post-WWII military-adverse foreign policy, realizing what is at stake, and is planning to significantly increase its military budget while supplying equipment to Ukraine. Finland and Sweden are contemplating giving up their policy of neutrality and joining NATO. Switzerland has dropped its decades-long policy of neutrality and has joined other European countries, the U.K., Canada, and the U.S. in applying strict financial sanctions on targeted Russians and Russian banks.
- The UN has just voted on a (non-binding) resolution to strongly denounce Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. I think it’s important to note that out of 181 countries voting, an unprecedented 141 voted for the resolution. 35 countries abstained. Only 5 countries voted against: Russia (!), Syria, North Korea, Belarus, and Eritrea. Now there’s an “interesting” collection of countries!
- The so-called wealthy countries of the world have stepped up mightily to apply crippling sanctions on Russia, including closing airspace around the world to Russian air flights (military, commercial, private, and leased), closing ports to Russian ships, cutting off ability to access banks, etc. European countries have even agreed to close off their own access to Russian oil and gas, which they rely on. The countries who have agreed to these measures understand that their own citizens will endure some suffering from these actions as well, and are willing to do so for the intended outcome of getting Putin to stop his deplorable actions.
- Ukraine’s neighbouring countries (Poland, Moldova, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania) and their citizens have stepped up mightily to provide safe shelter for the hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians fleeing the military assaults. Ukrainians themselves have shown the world just how courageous citizens can be when faced with an attack on their homeland, even taking up arms.
A horrific and unprovoked incursion into Ukraine has led to the realization that countries and their leaders really can act in a coordinated fashion to fight the unjust and also to fight the threats to their futures.
And the leader who has captured the world’s admiration and the world’s heart is Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. In checking to make sure I had the spelling of his name correct I came across something I did not know: the name of his political party is Servant of the People. Now that’s my idea of the name of a Party I can get behind! I had known that President Zelenskiy had been a comedian prior to becoming President, but I didn’t know of the specifics of his career. It turns out that the new-in-2018 Servant of the People Party is named for the Ukrainian hit TV show of 2016, Servant of the People, in which, believe it or not, Zelenskiy played the President. [Image source: from TV show, deadline.com]
Produced by Zelensky’s Kvartal 95, Servant of the People ran for three seasons on 1+1 Media along with a feature film and all are available to license from Eccho Rights.
“The series is a comedy but also an important document of where Zelenskiy comes from,” said Eccho Managing Partner Nicola Söderlund.
“His fictional president is a normal man, who grows into his role as a heroic and adored leader. While the real world scenario facing Zelenskiy and the Ukrainian people is far more grim and appalling than the comedy of the series, there are obvious parallels with the real world situation.”
Fascinating. Dare we hope for a happy ending in the next episode? Very, very soon? If only!