Think About It: Democracy drowning in tears

I beg your pardon that part two of “The Tyranny of Certainty” will be delayed. My intellectual and emotional senses are overwhelmed with the horrible reality of Ukraine and our witnessing the country of Russia violently descending on Ukraine to capture the land and peoples for its own.

In an instant, the lives of every Ukrainian changed. Any shred of certainty of what tomorrow brings is gone for them.

Each day and each photo bring us the chilling realization that the Russian attackers will destroy any building whether housing sick children or well children in kindergarten and kill any person whether an old woman, a newborn baby or 18-year-old man ready to fight.

The president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, speaks with great confidence and passion about the people of Ukraine and their love of country. They will fight for their country and freedom, he says.

And they are.

Zelenskyy also says they are fighting for the world’s freedom. He pleads for help. He wants the West — meaning the U.S., European Union, Britain and Scandinavia — to support a “no-fly zone” meaning any Russian plane over Ukraine is shot down.

What we are and are not doing

The West has united in efforts to sanction and isolate Russia and economically disable the country, Putin and other Russian oligarchs. Weapons of war are being sent every day to Ukraine to support their fight.

Countries and individuals are sending money to help Ukrainian women, children and old people fleeing the country manage their daily survival. Sequim Soroptimists donated $30,000 from the club’s treasury and individual members. To date, it’s reported that half the people of the capitol Kyiv have fled. Men 65 years and younger are expected to stay and fight. Some women have stayed as well, some with children.

President Biden and most congressional leaders are insisting they will not send American fighters — planes or people — to support a no-fly zone. The reason, we are told, is that there is no agreement such as NATO membership in place to do so and, moreover, any direct involvement in attacking Russian assets would be a declaration of war. The war would not be just any war but would be World War III with a serious risk of nuclear weapons being deployed given the two greatest nuclear powers would be facing down each other.

The unimaginable thought of mutual destruction becomes imaginable, and we are stuck with the realization that our fates are in the hands of leaders, one of whom, Vladimir Putin, is not acting like a sane person.

Here, it seems most elected leaders of both parties are striving to unravel the horrible consequences and possible devastating future in directing the role of America. Many have put aside partisan assaults on each other.

Give me liberty or lies

Still, we hear the echoes of autocrat Putin’s callous and destructive disregard of human liberties and life from our recent past of strong efforts by our previous president and his followers to rewrite reality and make enemies of the “other.” As much as some try to erase our own historical erosion of human rights, including the taking of lives, in acts such as Indian tribe displacement, Japanese internment, slavery of African men, women and children, none can and should be viewed as different and justified.

We’ve learned lies, said enough, can take hold and clear a path to righteous oppression and destruction. We aren’t that far removed from Ukraine.

Putin’s communication strategy has an all too familiar ring to it. He lied to his own country people when he said Ukraine was being ruled by Nazis, that genocide was being practiced against Russian people in Ukraine and Russia went into Ukraine on a “peace-keeping” mission.

Putin solidified his lie by shutting down the one independent news broadcast station, the internet and making laws that called for severe punishment for anyone who said anything other than the official descriptions. The Ukraine invasion officially became a peacekeeping mission and the resulting war officially became a “special military operation.”

We learned too well during the pandemic the power of lies and misinformation repeated until they became wannabe-facts and then hard truth for some people especially when claimed to be true by certain political leaders and news media.

Recently, lies instead of policy differences have fueled America’s political wars such as the COVID-19 pandemic is a hoax, Trump won the 2020 presidential election and Jan. 6 was a peaceful protest.

Even these lies are granted under the first amendment of our Constitution, the same amendment that grants us a free press, a free press that now shows us the grim reality of Russia’s war on Ukraine just as it showed us the truth of Jan. 6.

We again see the truth with our own eyes and feel the crushing emotion of desperate people and crying children. Our daily problems of living, even the most serious, are diminished by the awful fate of Ukrainians who’ve lost everything, some their lives.

I, like many of you, am humbled and saddened at the sight of crying children, worried mothers and wives. I try to remember they still have their country because they are willing to fight for their democracy. They love their country.

We have come to love Ukraine, its people and its leader. I and many like me want to believe we feel the same about our country and will unite in her defense. We want far less parsing in our own country of what patriotism means and much more support for freedom for all through a functioning democracy.

If the Ukrainians lose the war, their democracy will be lost for generations and every other democracy will be on notice, especially those that have been seeded like ours with the lies that seek to divide people into enemy camps.

We must ask if our country is susceptible to a Putin-like authoritarian coup. Far too many people seek the comfort of one voice telling them what they want hear and what to do.

Let’s hope we show the same love of country with resistance and fortitude as Ukrainians if attacked, whether by Russians trolling in our elections or causing mass grid outages or arriving on the shores of Alaska on a peace-keeping mission.

Let’s rise above our own pettiness of spirit. Let’s do what we can to stop the madness that tries to destroy the resolve and hope Ukraine.

The work of democracy, as we’ve learned, is never-ending and must never be ignored in any part of the world.

Bertha Cooper, a featured columnist in the Sequim Gazette, spent her career years in health care administration, program development and consultation and it the author of the award-winning “Women, We’re Only Old Once.” Cooper and her husband have lived in Sequim more than 20 years. Reach her at