Hope is not a form of guarantee, it’s a form of energy, and very frequently that energy is strongest in circumstances that are very dark.
Things I do, apart from work. I pin the leaflet from the local health offices about the free distribution of iodine tablets to households on our notice board in the hall. We used to have some in stock (because several French nuclear reactors are close enough and in really bad repair) but I cannot find them. I stalk the social media accounts and wikipedia pages of the sons and daughters of Russian oligarchs and especially the offspring of the five men we have been informed are Putin's siloviki, his inner circle. On google maps, I look up their villas in Italy and Turkey and France. I get lost in glossy media stories about their interior decoration and pool table settings, the instagram world where the sun always shines.
I brood, I speculate. What if they don't like what their dads are plotting. What if the dads don't want to go along with what their boss is doing. What if their dads' friends figure out that things are not going to plan. (Plan meaning blitzkrieg/coup, speedy occupation, locals waving flower garlands etc.).
Of course I am afraid, isn't that one of Putin's political goals. But I tell myself that fear must not paralyse me, or at least not for long. Is it because of my parent's memories that I am afraid, the war generation so particularly sensitive, or my own memories of nuclear war threats throughout my childhood? Or is it the old image of the Russian as a semi-civilised monster that has been popularised over and over again for the last hundred and fifty years? I'm thinking of James Bond antagonists, of World War II legends.
That what we want to call civilisation is only a thin layer, everywhere. Man's inhumanity to man runs through us all. My country, my parents and grandparents passed on to me the burden of genocide, gas chambers, an unforgivable war. My continent is not peaceful. Several years ago, we cycled along the river Neckar in southern Germany, passing through picturesque Medieval towns and villages for a pleasant sunny week in early autumn. One of these pretty towns, Oberndorf, is home to three of the world's leading weapons manufacturers and exporters (grenade launchers, rapid-fire rifles and tank weapons). You would not guess it. There is a Holocaust memorial on the town outskirts next to the picnic tables and the adventure playground.
Wars have been raging on every continent for as long as I have been alive, some are silent, others atrocious, devastating. How long ago was this?
And yet, I need to move on, we need to move on. Peaceful minds must prevail. Maybe some gestures, some deeds are not totally helpless. Have hope!