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The war we didn’t expect

It seems surreal to talk about war in Europe and yet on February 24 something happened that will change our lives forever, worse than two years of pandemic have already done.

I don’t know if you, like me, are living as if suspended. I am, I struggle to live the shred of normalcy that my being born in the right place in the world gives me. My days are punctuated by the news, as they were two years ago, when no one knew what would become of our lives, of our future and we remained glued to the TV to understand, to hope.

On February 24 I was in the French Alps, in Courchevel, an elite ski resort, frequented mainly by rich Russians and Ukrainians. I was there on behalf of a Ukrainian client. And there, amidst the glitz and glamour of the East’s billionaires, I experienced first-hand what it means to belong to a nation that has just been invaded, where people are trying to save themselves by fleeing, where all your affections, your home and your work are. I felt like I was watching one of those 3D movies, where you’re also inside the scene, but you’re just a helpless spectator. The only thing that is real is the fear and discomfort you feel watching the images unfold from inside.

We all left the next day, Friday the 25th. I went back to my house, they, my client with his wife and 5 children, in Geneva, in a house rented at the last moment because they can’t come back to their house in Kiev. Since then I have had no news, I have never had the courage to make a phone call. To ask what then? If they are well away from home? If their families are safe? I can’t, I’m afraid of hearing horrible things, I’m afraid of the impotence that I have, like you, in front of so much pain.

I am not a geopolitologist, I am not politically aligned, I just know that all this should not have happened. Ukraina is a democratic and independent state, like every state in Europe for the last 80 years. and as such it cannot be invaded, bombed, abused. And yet.

There are women and children who escape, some of them die running away, and then there are the “collateral” victims, all the good Russians who are imprisoned because they peacefully demonstrate against the invasion and the war. There are the Russians who are victims of the phobia of us ignorant shepherds of the web who are capable of abominably russophobic acts as if all Russians were Putin and therefore guilty. There are the Russians who, soon, will have nothing because their state will fall into bankruptcy.

But then there are the artists, Russians, Ukrainians, and from everywhere who unite against this catastrophe and give life to a chain of messages against the war through their works. There are the thousands of people who help, welcome and assist the refugees. There are the Russian sportsmen who take a stand against their dictator President. Even in the face of a tragedy of biblical proportions, solidarity and the desire for peace scream out loud.
And this is the only scream I want to hear because otherwise I’ll go crazy.

I don’t know when I will come back to write about beautiful things, I want to so much, it is my job as it is my job to sell wonderful things that as many wonderful people produce for you. But I can’t at the moment.
I am conscious that life must go on, that I am responsible not only for myself but for those who work with and for me and who rely on this work for living. I hope to see you again soon and that we can still be light and full of joy and peace.

The cover image is an artwork created by Russian artist Andrei Molodkin for the newspaper Domani. It is plexiglass with Ukrainian blood inside.

Recommended song: “Give peace a chance” John Lennon

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