Monday, July 15, 2024

Ultranationalism vs. Humanity

by the Weekly Sillimanian | March 3, 2022

Ever since Russia invaded Ukraine, there has been a lot of talk about President Vladimir Putin’s motives. And while the complete answer will always be complicated since it involves matters beyond economics, resources, and past affairs, the easy one right now is ultranationalism.

By definition, the word “ultranationalism” means the extreme belief that one’s country is separate and superior to others no matter what. Although often used synonymously with “patriotism”, it is very different in the sense that the former does not take the wellbeing of people from other nations into account — thus violating human rights and disrupting the peace. So far, that is what is happening in this current situation.

As Filipinos, we are lucky not to be directly involved in this conflict. However, there are multiple factors, a few of which we have already noticed, that prove we should care and do whatever we can to help ease it.

As early as January, gasoline prices have been increasing significantly even in the local setting. Many experts predicted this would only get worse and affect the prices of other commodities, and unfortunately, they turned out to be true after the initial invasion. Our country is barely recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, so if prices continue to increase, our economy along with those of other countries could fall.

The concept of “fighting fire with fire” or countering war with more war has also never ended well for anyone as history proves. Whether a side is offensive or defensive, that side will always have something to lose — infrastructures, resources, and worst of all, human lives. Those that do survive, specifically children, are stunted and crippled by what they have seen, further inhibiting the affected countries’ chances of recovery.

Fortunately, right now, several nations in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or NATO have shown and provided great support for Ukraine. Laypersons from these places are also doing what they can to help through donations and volunteering, which heighten Ukraine’s chances of winning their cause. However, this approach is merely reactive — a band-aid solution that only addresses the issue after it has already happened. And the issue here is that the leaders of Russia seem to have no intentions of backing down or choosing people’s welfare over their ultranationalistic ideologies.

We, the Weekly Sillimanian, might not be experts on this matter, but in our informed opinion, the actions of the Russian government towards Ukraine and the world are simply not justified. It has violated not just the Charter of the United Nations but also international law altogether. Most importantly, it has already taken and affected the lives of many. Right now, we can only help by providing resources for the people of Ukraine and keeping ourselves educated and informed, while hoping that the offensive eventually realizes that in the end, there is nothing worth fighting for one’s country when innocent blood is shed.

Old people wage war, but it’s the young who shall die for it. While Russia is continuing its bid to neutralize the government of Ukraine, president-turned actor Volodymir Zelenskyy is out there, rallying his forces to defend their nation. Stiff resistance welcomed the invading Russian forces, who were mostly young people who didn’t even have an idea that they were being sent to invade another land, thinking that they were only called to report for military drills.

A Russian soldier’s last text message to his mother read in an anxious Cyrillic, “Mom, I’m afraid.” He sent this message before his convoy was ambushed which killed him. While these chilling stories tempt us to make hasty generalizations on Putin’s mindset, it is still a mystery whether Putin has “miscalculated” the strength of his enemy, or is about to unleash something larger. 

Putin, a former agent of the KGB, Soviet Union’s secret police, is known for his ultranationalist ideals. Georgia and the Crimean peninsula had first experienced his iron fist. Now, it’s the whole of Ukraine. While he met with his colleagues in the Kremlin on a long, antique table, his soldiers, barely old enough to understand the art of war, were either killed, wounded, or missing in action, while protesters and dissenters were rounded up by the state police. 

We are also looking at the ordinary Russians condemning Putin’s ideals. We give our utmost respect to these brave people who sided with humanity, despite being ruled by an autocratic regime.

Guns cannot ultimately win humanity. While conflicts are inevitable given our difference in ideals, we always have the ability to settle these on the table, not on the battlefield. If there’s something that should be lost, it should be our egos, not lives.

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