Humanity must stand strong in the face of oppression. Humanity must win. Good must prevail over evil.
These are not just words, they are words with meaning and depth. We are sitting at a crisis point in which the world has to stand united against injustice. The fencing community is a global one, even as we are each in our own individual clubs across the world. What’s happening in Ukraine is affecting our global community.
An immoral war calls for us to speak out
Standing strong means publicly supporting those who are facing the unimaginable. This is beyond politics, beyond borders, and beyond our differences. There is no question that the people of Ukraine are brave, and it is up to us to find the bravery to speak for them.
The aggression towards Ukraine is abominable. The blame for the lives lost lies directly at the feet of the Russian government because the overriding sentiment of the people of Russia is the same as the rest of the world’s view: this invasion is unjust.
This is a moment where we have to do something. Over the last few years, the world’s eyes have been opened to layers of injustice. Today, we are urgently pressed to come forward and raise our collective voices for Ukraine. It is a true matter of life or death in an immoral war of aggression.
There is good in the world, and there is evil in the world, and we are truly seeing an epic moment of clear-cut good versus evil. No country deserves to have its humanity violated. This is why the world is united on one side, with brave Ukrainian people who are standing up to this evil.
Our Ukrainian fencing community
We have seen, up close and personal, the resilience and strength of the Ukrainian people.
Look around you, in your club or in your opponent’s club. Chances are there are coaches from Ukraine. Here in our San Francisco Bay Area, most of the fencing clubs have Ukrainian coaches, including AFM. There is a powerful tradition of fencing that has poured out of this nation. The culture and the people are worthy of admiration, and we are fortunate to have them among us.
It’s difficult to imagine the strain that they are under, twenty four hours a day and with no end in sight. They live with the knowledge that their families are under fire, that their friends and colleagues back home are in the worst situation. The images that are coming out of Kyiv, Kherson, and Mariupol are difficult to look at for those of us on the outside – what must it feel like to see them when they are your friends and family?
Schools, hospitals, and everyday people are subject to a war that they did not ask for. In any place in the world, in any war or oppression, human pain and suffering are intolerable. In the case of Ukraine, especially for the fencing community, it’s the suffering of a family of somebody that you know, somebody that is dear to you.
Stop for a moment and take stock of how many friends and fellow fencers you know who have connections to Ukraine. The people who you share your club with and who you fence with and tell jokes with. Right now, their families are being bombarded by the invading army of a totalitarian regime. It is unimaginable.
As a fencing community, we have no influence on what happens with international politics. But as people, as human beings, we all have a huge influence on each other. Public sentiment may not directly stop the tanks from rolling through the wheat fields of Ukraine, but it can make a difference as it pushes politicians to make choices that will stop those tanks.
Together, we have an impact
When we speak out, we plant a seed. If the world unites in global outrage at this brazen violation of sovereignty, the international community can indeed make this war stop soon, fast, and forever.
Many Ukrainians now feel helpless. Those who have emigrated are far away and unable to make a change, and those who are trapped under this siege in Ukraine itself are facing a deep horror at their door.
Speak out with your support! Your voice, when you speak to your Ukrainian colleagues and fellow fencers, makes a huge difference in helping them feel less alone. If you have friends in your club or coaches or families, take a leap and talk to them! Don’t walk around on eggshells with their feelings. They will tell you if it’s overwhelming, but they’ll also feel your support. Sometimes even a listening ear helps make all the difference.
Many people have asked about how they can support the Ukrainian community. The first thing is to be a front line with your coaches and teammates with Ukrainian connections. Show them your empathy and your compassion.
That is the first step, and it’s the best way for you to make an impact. If you want to do something that reaches out beyond your local community, look to this link for more information on how to make a difference on a global scale – how to help Ukraine.
Right now, right here, it is absolutely critical that we stand up for what is right. We can speak out against the cruelty and greed of war, and in doing so we show a small piece of the bravery that the people of Ukraine have shown while they face the worst kind of brutality.