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A solider holds a plush heart that is half blue and yellow, symbolizing the Ukrainian flag.

Compassion for Ukraine

 

It has taken me a while to figure out how to write about the war in Ukraine. I still feel uncertain about what to say or do. This is one of those humanitarian crises that takes my breath away, fills me with hopelessness, and leaves me wondering how I can offer real compassion to the people who are suffering. 

 

Compassion For Ukraine

 

Compassion requires ACTION to relieve suffering. It also requires FEELING suffering, not avoiding it. 

When I feel hopeless and confused, it is hard for me to figure out how to take action. I get overwhelmed by worry and sadness, and the distance makes it easier to avoid my emotional response.  I find myself turning off the news when I feel my body taking on too much pain. But this is my privilege, to be able to turn it off and avoid what is a reality for so many innocent people. And avoiding emotional pain is an old approach that is reactive and a way of “protecting” myself from what feels hard. 

 

The truth is, we are strong enough to feel this suffering with the people of Ukraine, even if we don’t think we are. 

 

This war is complicated, as they all are, fueled by fear and control. Fear and control are not traits that we want to nurture in humans, yet we all experience these emotional states. They cause arguments, conflict, and reactions that never feel authentic to who we really are. 

 

I am no more clear today about what to say or write,  than I was when the war began. What I can offer today is a practice of staying tuned in and not turning away, acknowledging the privilege that comes with being where I am now, and sending my loving thoughts to those who are suffering. I can find ways to share with my children that feel honest, yet safe. And I can think about the future impact and how I might be able to take action when more immediate needs arise here, in the US. Most importantly, I can share with my readers that compassion for Ukraine is about feeling the suffering deep down, not running away from it. 

 

For those of you who are looking for more ways to support Ukraine today, here are some resources: 

 


 

This week practice noticing how you feel about the war. Notice if you avoid the hardest emotions, and instead try to lean toward them. See if this leaning towards suffering inspires action.

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