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Thinking About: Compassion, Prayers, Hope – I’m Not the Warrior I Once Was

I have to admit, its hard to write about things lately. Images of the destruction in Ukraine are haunting reminders that not all is “right” with the world. I’m upset by what I see. I’m upset by what NATO won’t do to bring an end to all that chaos. But I also have to remind myself that there’s not much that I can do either.

That feeling of helplessness, of inactivity, of inability to be able to make any measured progress towards a substantial change…Its hard to quantify, but its there. And its such a crippling feeling. I have no money to provide to the refugees coming out of the war zones. At my age, and my health conditions, I’d be an ineffective combatant in the military excursions. All I can do is provide my empathy and curb my outrage towards my country’s leaders at what is occurring. The thing is, I understand their inaction. Having served as a member of a NATO command and control unit (Aliied Tactical Operations Center 3 in Sembach, Germany), I’m well aware of Article V and the limitations it presses into play in regards to a non-NATO country. Still, while NATO is following its own rules, it still feels “wrong” within my own soul to have countries stand on the sidelines, watching the attack on Ukraine in the same manner that a neighbor might stand in their backyard and watch the house next-door burn.

Some of the driving aspects of Druidry are aimed towards compassion for others, justice for those that have been wronged…but what happens when you can put neither into effect? For me, this is when I lean on my Gods that much harder. I am reminded that there is only so much I can do. So much that I can shoulder from others. I have my own issues to manage. I have my own needs to feed. If I were to shirk those responsibilities, I would be weakened further and not be of any use to others when I can truly make a difference. It’s a tough position to be reminded of, but there’s truth in it that I cannot push against.

I’m ex-military. I see conflicts like this one, and I feel that clarion call to action. I’m older now. Much older. I’m not the young man I once was. I have my share of health issues that have sapped my ability to be what I used to be. Answering a clarion call towards military-style response is no longer in these bones. The old saying of becoming the horse that was put out to pasture to live a comfortable life is a real thing. But my mind remains sharp. My empathy doesn’t get automatically turned off either. I can’t pick up a rifle and head into combat, but I can approach my Gods (and others) to find relief for those that need it.

Crow, Coyote, Abnoba…any Others that might hear what I ask. Please find ways to help the civilians within Ukraine find safety during this invasion. Help the families who lose loved ones in this senseless violence. Let them understand the bravery of their lost loved ones to stand in the face of tyranny. Help the Russian military members to realize that violence against people who were once citizens of the same conglomerate not that long ago are still the brothers and sisters they should remember. I know that I cannot ask You to stop things of history that are already in motion. All I ask is that the pain be lessened to any degree for those that need it.

Yes, I am doing the dreaded “thoughts and prayers” here. I have nothing else that I can offer. I refuse to handle spell work or magick within all of this. Unless you want to consider my simple prayer to the Gods to be such. I’m skint monetarily. I’m physically unable to be the warrior I once was. The Priestly side of things is all I have left in my quiver. I offer all I have left, knowing it is not nearly enough…not even close.

I know I am writing about things that many people don’t want to read or hear. They get enough of this from the news. Images of orphanages being emptied ahead of the troops. Apartment buildings burned out, collapsed, and looking devoid of all life. The sounds and sights of a military invader attacking civilians indiscriminately. The stories of families separating, as people transit from their civilian life to becoming the rag-tag defenders of their lands, way of life, and beliefs. Would I do the same in their shoes were this visited here upon my country? Of course, I would. Even within this older, somewhat broken shell. I would fight an invader with the same spirit that the Ukrainians are displaying. I pledged my life in the protection of the Constitution of this country, and its lands. For me, that oath never ended, and never will. I completely grok the spirit of the Ukrainian people.

I have always looked at the phrase of “thoughts and prayers” that gets bandied about by many Christians in this country as a completely useless phrase. Today, I understand it to some degree a little better. I have nothing else I can offer to the Ukrainian people. But I still hate the phrase. Especially coming from people who have a lot more than I do. But I can’t make them feel for others, especially for others that don’t match their political and religious mores. I can’t force people to do a damn thing, and I never want that kind of power over others. I still believe in people making up their own minds and offering their own actions – even when I disagree with them. When they turn on their televisions and watch the news like it’s a daily soap opera – I can’t force them to feel compassion for others. I can only wish for the day when I am as solvent as they are, so that I can help a bit more.

So, how do I work through this helplessness within my Druidry? Well, I start by remembering a battlefield axiom that I was taught in my eight years in the military. When you see others bleeding from wounds, you have to fix your wounds first. If you don’t sop the bleeding on yourself, you won’t be able to help others with their wounds. I’m in no position to help others in a manner that I wish to. So, I do what I can, and hope that’s enough for now. I do the best that I can. All I have to offer at this moment are my prayers to the Gods. For the moment, all I can do is hope that is enough.

–T /|

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