Sunday in the Park with Brian: Therapy Session #42 (The “Insistence on Decency” Version)

As with many people across the globe, I have watched in horror over the last several days as Russia thunders its way toward decimating the sovereign, democratic nation of Ukraine. As a writer, I have struggled to find the right words to express my outrage. (What can I possibly say, when people who are much more savvy than I have already spoken so eloquently about the situation?) As a human who still clings to hope for eventual, decent humanity, my heart weeps.

I could not let this wretched development of turbulence in the world pass without sharing something here at Bonnywood. It just wouldn’t be right. Still, what can I say?

I’ve finally decided to go with two moments, two images.

The first occurred a few days ago, on a small island off the southern coast of Ukraine. This has been reported widely, but I’m “borrowing” my account from a CNN story, found here. Snippet as follows:

A Ukrainian soldier on a tiny island in the Black Sea didn’t hold back when threatened with bombing by a Russian warship as Moscow continued its assault on Ukrainian territory.

According to a purported audio exchange, as the Russians approached Snake Island, also known as Zmiinyi Island, the Russian officer says: “This is a military warship. This is a Russian military warship. I suggest you lay down your weapons and surrender to avoid bloodshed and needless casualties. Otherwise, you will be bombed.”

A Ukrainian soldier responds: “Russian warship, go f*** yourself.”

Those were the final known words heard from the island.

The 13 soldiers on the island did not survive, which is wrenching. But the admirably brave and stoic defiance is a reflection on standing up for what you hold dear and true. I only hope that I would react in the same way, but I honestly don’t know if I could.

The second moment occurred just a few hours earlier this evening. I haven’t watched “Saturday Night Live” in many years, and I only know about what took place on tonight’s show because it has quickly gone viral. They replaced their traditional “cold open”, which is almost always a comedy sketch of some kind, with a performance of “Prayer for Ukraine” by the Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York.

There are some who will say that this decision to open the show in such a way is simplistic and doesn’t resolve anything, and there is a tiny degree of truth in such an assessment. But the very simplicity of the gesture is what makes it so powerful. And I’m so over the jaded people who belittle any attempt at making things just a little better, in some way. In times of crisis, and this certainly is one, every little thing we do that is good and decent and well-intentioned is so much better than the banal, negative, not-my-problem do-nothings who sit on their couches and watch the world burn and never lift a finger to stop the flames.

Saturday Night Live shoved the comedy aside in a show of hope.

And Bonnywood Manor is doing the same.

But I’m also lifting a finger toward Vladimir Putin.

I’m sure you can figure out which finger that might be.


47 replies »

  1. I couldn’t agree more. I’m so mad that our great leaders haven’t put a stop to him ages ago. Just looking at him and his facial expressions one knows he doesn’t give a rat’s a.. about anything, laughing behind our backs because of our stupid diplomatic efforts over the years …

    Liked by 4 people

  2. It’s those simple, powerful gestures that always choke me up and make me realize there’s still good in the world. Then I see Donald Trump speak at C PAC and I have to start drinking again. Great post.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Exactly. It IS important to take a stand whenever we can. If only all of the decent people would get off their butts and speak out more often, we wouldn’t be having many of these crises. Complacency is a wretched beast….

      Liked by 1 person

  3. While there is little we can do we can all do something, be it hope or pray or demand a little better from those who are supposed to heed us.
    Vlad’s Dissertation. / First some soft soothing words to distract us / From Don’s trustworthy peaceable BF Putin / But deeds, not words prove Vlad’s bad practice / He crushes dissent by putting the Jack boot in.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Well, there is one other little thing we can do: Stop doing business with autocrats. Putin has the power he has today because OTHER countries invested in those countries, willing to sleep with the devil in order to make a quick buck. I know this is oversimplifying things, but it’s essentially true: Both Russia and China most likely would not be the oppressive regimes they are today without foreign cash infusion.

      As for Vlad’s Dissertation, well done, as always.


    • For Putin, it’s not about the land, it’s about the power. He’s a perfect example of an egomaniac. Another example? Trump.

      Now, this Snake Island name. I’m sure it’s a lovely place, but I’m really not interested in going anywhere that might involve snakes. I am NOT a fan of them… 😉


  4. Putin has changed. He’s gotten more aggressive and more reckless. He’s 69 now and I know what he’s thinking. He’s read Tennyson’s Ulysses too. This is his last chance for empire; to restore some small sense of glory to Russia. Russia is failing. The population and economy are both shrinking and it’s military capabilities are as well. Doesn’t want to become a Chinese client state or just another country of many in Europe

    If I put aside the destruction and undoubtedly thousands of deaths, I feel a connection to him. He feels the same thing I feel when I see a beautiful long trail and then contemplate my failing body. Too bad he’s focused on winning territory and subservience, not on prosperity and freedom.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I definitely see what you’re saying about Putin’s state of mind, but really, what glory can there be in aggression and violence? He’s not glorifying Russia, he’s further defaming it. If he truly wanted to leave his mark, there are far better ways to go about it. Then again, history is filled with (mostly) men who confused accomplishment with desecration.

      I will add the caveat that Putin is most likely completely disconnected from reality, surrounded by sycophants who only tell him what he wants to hear, just as Trump was in the White House. Still, it doesn’t excuse anything. Decent and sane people know they shouldn’t kill innocent people out of vanity.

      Now, this aging thing and the beckoning trail. I completely get THAT point. It’s annoying as hell when you reach the point where you are physically unable to do the things you used to do all the time, with ease. We should be rewarded for surviving this long, not penalized… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • LOL! Who said anything about Putin being decent and sane? He’s a sociopath. People like him did well in the KGB. He got his start in East Germany crushing dissidents there. I don’t think there’s a shred of empathy in the man. And like a true sociopath, he can completely deceive anyone who isn’t at the very top of their game. Even fake out lie detectors, I imagine.

        Putin is one of the last cold warriors to lead a nation. I thought that Bush was the last American cold warrior we’d have in charge. And then we got the Shrub who grew up in the cold war and surrounded himself with cold warriors for advisors. So I thought that he’d be the last.

        But Biden grew up in the cold war too, so once again we have two cold war relics running the US and Russia. I think Biden has changed and mellowed but obviously Putin did not.

        Personally, I’ve always thought Putin’s eyes looked dead. They are the mirrors of the soul, you know.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for this post Brian. Here in Germany we only need to look at a map. One neighbor to the east is Poland, and their neighbor to the east is the Ukraine. War is just two countries away. This sucks. The EU and Europe have presented a swift and unanimous front…. while we all pray for peace. Take care,

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hey, Jadi. I can’t even imagine what it must feel like to be in such close proximity to the situation. This is all such a wretched mess. But it is comforting, to a degree, that most of the countries in the world as well as various global organizations seem completely united at this point. I hope that unity continues until we reach a positive resolution, and I also hope we learn lasting lessons that autocracies are never good and conflict in other nations should never be considered “not my problem”. It’s a world community now. We are all responsible for everything, everywhere…

      Liked by 1 person

      • …and as an American I feel squeezed between two fronts, the mendaciousness of the Orange Dumpster Fire, and his crony in Moscow. But you’re right, it’s a paradigm shift to watch the rest of the world swiftly unite. We are all connected!!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I follow a Russian gal YouTube. She just vlogs about her daily life with her husband and young daughter.

    She did a video after the invasion. Russian people don’t want this, and they know the sanctions are going to make their lives harder too, but they accept that.

    I’m reminded of the 80s with Gorby & Ronnie… Sting singing about the Russians loving their children too…

    I’m an eternal optimist. I’ll be doing my little part as often as possible. I made a gal smile while waiting for the GLYSB with Ben, just by saying “Good Morning” as she walked past.


    Liked by 3 people

    • You know I’m an optimist as well, despite my sarcasm, and I also believe that every tiny pebble of good we throw into the Ocean of Life sends out positive ripples. But it does get a little frustrating at times and I might hurl those pebbles a little harder than necessary.

      I’ve also read and viewed accounts from folks within Russia who are not happy with the situation, but they fear speaking out openly and just accept it, because they have been oppressed for so long and the cost of public defiance is too severe in Putin’s regime. It’s very sad. But part of me is hoping that THIS time, with so much of the world currently standing up to Putin, there just might be a chance that the people of Russia will finally say “enough is enough”. It’s a dream, sure, but maybe, just maybe…

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Sheila. I just cannot grasp how some people are so self-involved and disconnected from their fellow man. (How does one GET to a state of mind like that? My heart hurts with just a brief glimpse of the unjust suffering of someone I’ve never met, many miles and cultures away.) And yes, it’s those “small gestures” that change the world…

      Liked by 1 person

    • Indeed, very strange times. For a while there, I thought we were making progress in many areas, on a goal toward a greater good. But then something happened (I have my theories) and suddenly half of this country (and the world in general) suddenly decided to toss aside decency and equality and return to darker times. But I still have hope. Thanks for taking the time to make a comment!


    • If the United States doesn’t stop this mystifying shift toward conservatism and bigotry, I could very well be moving abroad. I’ve been actively looking at options and destinations, and we could very well be writing buddies in Belarus some day, drinking coffee and sharing stories at a corner cafe… 😉


  7. “Still, what can I say?” … You said plenty, and plenty well (says someone who is nobody). We just have to keep the love alive, keep the awareness up, keep exploring what the situation means to us, about us. It is, after all, the worst of the worst.


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