a mystical möbius — curating facts, ideas, text, and media to create a contemplative space.
War like no one has ever seen before?
Oh, I know, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has threatened that very thing if the West tries to interfere with his “rape-joke” plans for Ukraine (cf. 3rd paragraph here). His ‘nuclear sabre-rattling’ on the world stage is very dangerous. However, that’s not what I’m talking about here. Please allow me to begin with this 2 minute video that provides a way to more appropriately frame what I am talking about. Please watch, Refugees:
Q: So, what’s so different about the war that Russian President Vladimir Putin is presently waging on the people of Ukraine?
A: Social media.
The world is presently watching this “war” (i.e., Putin’s criminal aggression in Ukraine) in ways far more intimate than we have ever been able to observe any war before this one.
Here’s a brief CBS Evening News story [34 sec.] drawn from a video posted on Facebook. “Ukrainian cellist Denys Karachevtsev performed in front of a building that was bombed in his hometown of Kharkiv, which has been under fire from Russian airstrikes.”
Such beauty! Human beauty, found where one certainly might not expect to find it. Karachevtsev’s Facebook post forms a powerful witness/illustration of the resilience of human beings and, perhaps even more importantly, of humanity itself. Here, even in the face of the brutal inhumanity and the immoral atrocities being inflicted upon them by Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin’s criminal aggression in Ukraine, the best of humanity shines brilliantly through Denys and his cello.
We recall that Putin’s real existential problem is Western soft power . . . “
Drums of war
War drums are pounding loudly around the globe. Witness North Korea testing an intercontinental ballistic missile last week (BBC story).
Meanwhile, Putin’s immoral aggression is raging in Ukraine, and about 4.5 million children are now displaced. However, this time we’re seeing it through an intimate lens, i.e., social media. With that, we see the possibility that — even in the face of such extreme evil — the human heart, and the heart of humanity itself, beat even louder and more powerfully than the deafening drums of war.
A different translation
Social media has provided the world with a vivid window into humanity caught in the crosshairs of war. Of course, anyone with even a modicum of imagination can picture what it might be like to be in the midst of violent atrocities being imposed by a foreign tyrant. However, presently, with social media, one needs no imagination whatsoever to see and feel what life on the ground is like in Ukraine under the scorched-earth siege that Putin has imposed.
War, even within conventional bounds, is terrible enough. However, the criminal, immoral, inhuman war (and terroristic, scorched-earth, siege warfare) that Putin is waging against the Ukrainian people is being experienced all over the world now through the immediacy/intimacy of social media.
A force for justice . . . and peace?
A cell phone video of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police went viral on social media. In light of Floyd’s unwitting sacrifice, the ranks of allies for racial justice have swelled significantly. The movement stands on the shoulders of civil rights giants. The evil that some Americans were barely able even to imagine, or to allow, was now confirmed beyond any credible denial a million times over on social media. The naked truth of the video created many new allies.
Similarly, the stark reality of what happens to the innocent who must live in the midst of violent aggression as is now occurring in Ukraine may hopefully help form a bright line that humanity will increasingly refuse to cross.
The heart of humanity
The “Refugees” film at the top is powerful testimony that human life is partly (well, significantly) a struggle to find dignity each day. The film forms a heartfelt prompt to remind us that G-d has given us the gift/burden of human agency and that we are free to make finding dignity easier or harder for each other.
Love it or hate it — and there are plenty of adequate reasons for both perspectives — social media may well hold potential for creating significant change capable of moving us toward humanity’s best expression.
After Putin’s war of criminal aggression experienced intimately through social media, will humanity finally get its fill of war and collectively demand an end to it on earth? Will the lion finally be able to lay down with lamb at long last? If so, we will need some very different approaches with which to help humanity keep order sans violence.
[And, consider the potential downsides: Swarms vs. Nukes]
On the flipside: David Duke/Alexander Dugin
Conversely, fascinating is WNYC‘s March 4, 2022, “On The Media,” program examining “The Fog of War.” Here’s a clip of how “neo-Nazi” gets weaponized as political technologies: