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As Ukraine Suffers, We Can't Look Away

By Naomi Serviss / New York City



Apocalyptic evil incarnate


unleashed on innocent civilians.


Cluster bombs, drone strikes, nuclear threats.


Ukraine’s dogged determination


to thwart


Putin’s vile slaughter and


debunk his hideous lies


is of myth-making proportion.


We’re tuned into


heartbreaking real-time horror.


Bearing witness to the unthinkable.


TikTok aficionados


upload raw footage


with ferocious, armed determination.



President Zelensky


Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky,


a worldwide hero


of Shakespearian dimension,


epitomizes passionate righteousness


in the face of tyranny.


Putin is a repulsive war criminal


whose sociopathic megalomania


recalls his biggest American fan,


the former disgraced American president.


NATO allies know what’s at stake,


as do all freedom-loving nations and citizenry.


Echoes of 1939 and 1989


haunt the airwaves,


relentless news of totalitarian brutality.


Shocking footage of bloodied children


pierce our collective conscience.


Cancer patients are being treated


in the Kyiv Hospital basement.


Some 1.3 million refugees


have sought sanctuary


in Poland, Hungary, Moldavia and Romania.


Half a million are children.


Will global demonstrations


and economic sanctions


affect a desperate despot?

A forbidden pro-Ukrainian rally


in Tbilisi, Georgia


attracted thousands.


Americans are wearing


Ukrainian colors in solidarity.


New York City landmarks


light up at night


with the embattled nation’s hues.


How do we comprehend


the unfolding atrocities?


Who isn’t gutted by Putin’s inhumanity to man?


This “teachable moment”


isn’t easily taught or explained

when there are no words.


The Russian dictator’s


willingness to invoke nuclear weapons


by attacking


a power plant is terrifying.

Experts say ‘contained’ reactors


at Zaporizhzhia,


the largest nuclear power plant in Europe,


shouldn’t explode


like the April 26, 1986 disaster in Chernobyl


Small comfort.



That’s the good news.


Here comes the bad:


Damage to its cooling system


may simulate 2011’s Fukushima accident.


The former Soviet republic


has 15 nuclear reactors,


This military conflict


is the first in European history


to play out on such dangerous ground.


Ukraine’s Chernobyl disaster,


shattered the world stage.


That memory is still vivid.


At the time, my daughter was a preschooler


in Long Island’s Northport Nursery School.


Emmy attended morning sessions.


Cooperative parents pitched in there,


from assisting teachers to bathroom cleanup.


Kids learned how to share and care


about their classmates


in a warm, encouraging environment


of cooperative learning.


I was carpooling with another


three-year-old’s mom in Emmy’s class


when we heard the horrific Chernobyl news.


Stunned, we took comfort


in our shared panic.


Our kids played together that afternoon,


serenely innocent.


We talked about nuclear fallout


and stressed out


over our children’s


inheritance of a world on life support.


Dazed, we worried realistically


about living on an island


where the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant


had been inexplicably constructed.


We imagined the chaos


that would follow an emergency evacuation


should the unthinkable happen.


If you’ve never driven


through Nassau and Suffolk counties,


picture bumper-to-bumper traffic


on a typical commuter’s day.


Miraculously, the plant never opened.


In 1994, it was fully decommissioned,


which made the nuclear reactor inoperative.


Most of the $6 billion cost of the unused plant


was passed on to Long Island residents.



Chernobyl’s meltdown was


the worst in history,


both in casualties and cost.


It wasn’t military action


that threatened the world


that cruel April month.


It was human error.


Putin’s annihilation playbook is intentional.


Staff at the Ukrainian power plant


warned that Russian troops


were laying down explosives.



Ukraine’s 44-year-old President Zelensky,


who is Jewish,


remained defiant.


“I don’t want Ukraine’s history


to be a legend about 300 Spartans, he said.


I want peace,”


The Russian people are not our enemies,


he added, just the demented president.


Putin’s self-proclaimed ceasefire


is another lie,


as evidenced by


launched air and military attacks.


How can we support


President Zelensky’s Herculean leadership


during these horrifically unprecedented times?

Maybe by continuing public demonstrations,


making donations to vetted charities


and supporting independent,


truth-disseminating journalists


who are putting themselves


on the front lines of history.


 

Janis and the author at Effy's Cafe on the Upper West Side of Manhattan





Naomi Serviss is a New York-based award-winning journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, Newsday, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Highroads (AAA magazine), in-flight publications, spa and travel magazines and websites, including BroadwayWorld.com

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