“I’m willing to freeze for peace”: Sacrifice & Generosity

Among the 100,000+ Germans marching in Berlin against the Ukrainian War, one sign said, “I’m willing to freeze for peace.” 

Anderson Cooper interviews Olena Gnes, living with her three children in a bomb shelter in Kyiv while her husband, a journalist, fights in the resistance against the Russian invasion.

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? 

While thousands of refugees are fleeing Ukraine as Russia continues its invasion, others have sought to return to their embattled homeland from Poland – some to reunite with family, some to fight. Video by Guardian News.

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.  

In a medieval town in Poland a few hours’ drive from Ukraine, volunteers from across Europe are working against the clock to pack and distribute as much aid into Ukraine as they can, worrying that Russian-allied Belarusian forces could soon block their supply lines. Video by Al Jazeera English.

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?

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5 thoughts on ““I’m willing to freeze for peace”: Sacrifice & Generosity”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, Today you ask us: “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?” I am learning there is a paradox in generosity and sacrifice, and this is what I mean: On the one hand, Putin is being the opposite of generous, rather he is being greedy in taking what does not belong to him–though he is willing to “sacrifice” the lives of his men in order to get what he wants. On the other hand I see the generosity of spirit of the Ukrainian people, and all the nations that are joining her in protest against the Russians. And they too are making sacrifices in order to save their lives and their home land. Finally, I am upset by the way that democracy is being chipped away slowly but surely around the world and at home…

  2. Avatar

    Thank you Matthew for the etymology of sacrifice, magnanimity and generosity. “And Aquinas says it is difficult to be magnanimous. No evil person is ever magnanimous. So you fight evil with magnanimity. You fight evil with generosity and that creates the context in which we’re willing to do a little sacrificing at this time in history, both for the sustainability of Mother Earth and future generations, but also for the sustainability of democracy and future generations.”
    So it is the thousands upon thousands of Ukrainian people who are exhibiting deep soul sacrifice and magnanimity to defeat a dark soul conqueror. The Ukrainian patriots and their supporters are not putting their soul-light under a bushel and they are inspiring people around the world to follow suit. And most tellingly, the Ukrainians have a deep soul leader in Zelensky who refused ‘to take ride’ out of his country, unlike the leaders of Afghanistan who took flight out of their country when the dark-soul Taliban moved into initiate their chokehold on the Afghani people.

  3. Avatar

    Calling All Grandmothers – a poem by Alice Walker

    We have to live
    or we
    will die
    in the same
    old ways.
    I call on all Grand Mothers
    on the planet
    to rise
    and take your place
    in the leadership
    of the world.
    Come out
    of the kitchen
    out of the
    out of the beauty parlors
    out of the television
    Step forward
    and assume
    the role
    for which
    you were
    to lead humanity
    to health, happiness
    and sanity.
    I call on
    all the
    Grand Mothers
    of Earth
    and every person
    who possesses
    the Grand Mother
    of respect for
    protection of
    the young
    to rise
    and lead.
    The life of
    our species
    on it.
    & I call on all men
    of Earth
    to gracefully
    stand aside
    & let them
    (let us)
    do so.

  4. Avatar
    Barbara McGurran

    Thank you Matthew for this heart-opening dm and to Lynn for your thought provoking poem. I am ready indeed to sacrifice financially and any other way I can to help our courageous brothers and sisters of Ukraine. This is a tide-changing time in our history for all people to stand together to support what we say we believe in—-democracy and sustainable life on Mother Earth. “United we stand,divided we fall.

  5. Avatar

    Amen!!!! May God’s Love~Wisdom~Peace~Justice~Creativity grow in the hearts and lives of all our sisters around the world, especially our world leaders, and even our oppressors….

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