Among the 100,000+ Germans marching in Berlin against the Ukrainian War, one sign said, “I’m willing to freeze for peace.”
This is significant because Germany—and Berlin in particular—gets very cold in winter. And because the Germans were very dependent on Russia for gas to warm their homes and they made the decision to take on Russia and end the new gas line from Russia. It was a great sacrifice on the Germans’ part.
But the sign said it all: One does sacrifice in a critical time like this. Certainly the Ukrainians are sacrificing, laying down their lives even, to keep their country and their fledging democracy for themselves and for future generations. We see pictures and interviews nightly with those hiding in shelters with babies in arms or journeying hundreds of miles in cold, cold weather to escape the onslaught of war with their children.
Back in America, are we “willing to freeze (or the equivalent) for peace”? What sacrifices are we willing to make to put sanctions on Mr. Putin and to maintain our struggling democracy?
Can we get over our self-satisfaction and move beyond self-pity (always present with Patriarchy) and petty concerns for the sake of a greater cause? For the common good?
Greed and consumer capitalist propaganda rarely instruct us in how valuable the virtues of generosity and sacrifice are. But a time like this requires generosity and sacrifice and Americans, while less immediately challenged than Germans and Ukrainians and Polish people because we are thousands of miles away, hopefully will also dig deep to find the generosity inside and the love of peace inside to make the sacrifices that are sure to come.
These may include including rising gasoline prices and food prices as we stand with Ukraine to help sustain their struggle. It seems like a tired shibboleth to hear that “Freedom is not cheap”—but it is also true.
The word “sacrifice” means to “make holy,” and in a time like ours we are all invited to a larger world view, one that includes the making holy of our struggles and gift-giving, our generosity therefore.
We are called to stay grounded and grateful and not take for granted that which is most valuable—such as a healthy Earth and a healthy democracy.
Grateful for just a “blue sky,” as one young woman who lived through four hours of bombing in a darkened train in Kiev said on TV last night. She broke down and cried, knowing that she could no longer take for granted “a blue sky.” Her skies are currently poisoned and lit up with missiles and bombs exploding. She is learning something primal and teaching us the same.
May we learn too not to take for granted. And to give something of ourselves that is real and precious for peace.
See Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society, pp. 379-387.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: People huddle in a station of Kyiv Metro, converted into an air raid shelter after Russian invasion of Ukraine. Photo from the Ukrainian government on Wikimedia Commons.
Queries for Contemplation
What are you learning about generosity and sacrifice and community and not taking for granted in this time of Ukrainian resistance? And democracy under fire at home and abroad?