A SOJOURNER’S VIEW: When will they ever learn?

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/February 26) — It was planned for months. Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin (born October 7, 1952), Russia’s authoritarian strongman was about to invade the sovereign nation of Ukraine, despite all warnings from the United States and all other countries affiliated with NATO (mainly from Western Europe) openly declaring that sanctions should be imposed if ever Putin goes through with his war plans.

It happened that three days ago the prediction finally came true when tanks and other weapons of war began to invade territories inside Ukraine. And for days now, all global television networks and local media have been reporting on the progress of this invasion, which for most Ukrainians amounts to an ambitious plan by a superpower to occupy a small neighboring country.

It doesn’t help that there are separatists who are pro-Russian and who have openly declared their wish to be affiliated with mighty Russia rather than remaining within the Ukrainian Democratic Republic. This gave Putin the false legitimacy that Ukraine was oppressing its own people and that they are here to free them from the Ukrainian government led by the President – Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelensky (born January 25, 1978) whom they now call – rather ironically – as “neo-Nazis”.

At this stage of this war which could spread to all of Europe, there are TV presenters and political scientists who predict that this is only the beginning of Putin’s desire to reclaim what was once the Union. of the Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), i.e. re-establishing a Russian empire across Eastern Europe (including countries such as Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Croatia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Belarus, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia).

If this happens, a full-scale European war could break out, which could then involve all NATO countries directly involved in the war, including having their own soldiers supporting the Ukrainian army against the invading forces Russians. One can only imagine how this large-scale war would translate in terms of the number of casualties, both soldiers and especially civilians caught in the crossfire.

If this war expands, it is clear that the world’s attention will focus on the impact of this war, a haunting reminder of the 1960s-70s at the height of the Vietnam War, which for millennials and Generation Z today is already history. But for those of us who were the youth of the world at that time (the same times that “change…”, in the words of one of the songs composed by Nobel laureate Bob Dylan), this war that ravaged Vietnam has brought us to a new and heightened awareness of geopolitical reality. But it also spurred us to unite across national borders to march through the streets and protest against US imperialism which explains their brutal treatment of Vietnamese civilians – ironically, as has been proven time and time again – for self- claiming to defend democracy.

Vietnam World galvanized global youth as they began to take action to promote peace, resulting in protest against all wars, especially Vietnam wars. Their involvement in these anti-war demonstrations spread across generations, from children to the elderly, and extended its influence to virtually all sectors of society, especially civil society organizations (media, universities, church and artists/cultural workers).

Some of the most powerful avenues of protest were those led by artists and performers, including celebrities. So in the music world, everyone from Bob Dylan to Joan Baez to Peter/Paul/Mary to The Beatles has composed, sung and popularized anti-war anthems. One of the most popular was the anti-war anthem – Where have all the flowers gone? – composed by Pete Seeger interpreted by almost all singer-activists and echoed in student demonstrations and even in religious rituals. The haunting lyrics included where have all the flowers, girls and soldiers gone and the chorus was – “Will they ever learn? Oh, when will they ever learn?

From their concern about the Vietnam War, the young people then moved on to other social issues specific to their own country, from rising student tuition fees to corruption within their governments. Thus broke out Paris 1968 the student movement which spread in this city of Love which had become a city of mass protests! This then spread all over the world, including here in the Philippines. Immediately after, the first quarter storm gave birth to a mass youth movement in the country, never seen before, whose legacy lives on to this day.

As we are more preoccupied with the upcoming elections in May, the memory of that first quarter storm is alive and well as activists of the 1960s-1970s generation do their best to campaign against the Marcos’ return to power. For there is an imminent danger that the Marcos are about to return to Malacañang and reclaim the authoritarian powers that were ended when they had to escape the wrath of the people when EDSA 1 was underway, there more than three decades old.

The question now arises: will today’s Filipino youth repeat history? That is to say, like the youth of the 1960s-1970s who, awakened by their anxiety over the Vietnam War, saw the evil of the Marcosian martial regime and protested against American imperialism, feudalism and capitalism. bureaucratic. Could this war in Ukraine be the trigger that could push the Pinoy youth – affected by what is happening and what could still happen in Ukraine – to prove to the skeptics that they are not the skeptical, apathetic and apolitical millennials? are they labeled as such?

Only time will tell. But for now, we must stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people. We pray for peace and begin to reflect on how we – no matter if they are so far from us and if we have our own problems at home – can support the dream of a humanity dreaming of peace in the world. ! (Miss Universe Contestants: Here’s your chance to repeat the mantra of your wish for world peace!)

[MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Redemptorist Brother Karl Gaspar is a professor at St. Alphonsus Theological and Mission Institute (SATMI) in Davao City and until recently, a professor of Anthropology at the Ateneo de Davao University. Gaspar is the most prolific Mindanawon book author, tackling subjects on peace, ecology, anthropology, theology, among others.  In the past three years, he authored four books: “Ordinary Lives, Lived Extraordinarily – Mindanawon Profiles” launched in February 2019; Handumanan (Remembrance): Digging for the Indigenous Spirituality in 2021 which won the Catholic Book Awards and two other books in Cebuano, “Mga Lumadnong Sugilanon nga Mahinuklogon” and “Ang Dagayday sa Pananhong Nanglabay” under his pseudonym, Melchor M. MoranteHe writes two columns for MindaNews, one in English (A Sojourner’s Views) and the other in Binisaya (Panaw-Lantaw). Gaspar is a Datu Bago 2018 awardee, the highest honor the Davao City government bestows on its constituents]

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