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While There Was a War – Looking for Guidance in a Shattered World

Protesting against the war in Ukraine

At the time I am writing this article it is 11:30pm on a Wednesday night. I am about to go to sleep, but my thoughts don’t let me. Because how could I drift so peacefully into my dreams, while, just under two thousand kilometres away, thousands of people are fighting for their lives, losing their loved ones, losing their homes.

I have long thought about what the topic of my next article could be – the month of International Women’s day, the end (?) of the pandemic…Maybe it would be nice to share some positive news for a change. But nothing feels significant. This war is so much bigger than words could ever capture. And I am much too small of a person to enlighten anyone on the topic. But I also couldn’t live with myself if I pretended, I could write about anything else whilst our world is falling apart.

Today felt like the first day of spring to me. I went out for coffee with a friend and we sat outside for the first time this year. And while I was enjoying myself, not far from me there was a war going on. A few weeks ago, thousands of Germans went out on the streets, dressing up and celebrating carnival. While only a few hours away, Ukrainians were fighting for their lives.

This morning, I had a cup of coffee and my usual bowl of oats. My favourite meal of the day. And while I was eating my breakfast, not far from me, mothers were melting snow to provide their children with water. Devastated families broke into supermarkets to find the last groceries still available.

Tonight, I scrolled through my Instagram feed. I saw some travel content from bloggers vacationing in Paris and my friend’s cute selfie with her mom. And within seconds, with only one click to the next app, I saw a pregnant woman bleeding, being carried out of a children’s hospital that had been bombed. Whilst I was reminiscing about that one time I went to Paris.

I also stumbled across a poem that starts with the phrase “It feels ridiculous to wash my face. It feels ridiculous not to.” I guess this comes close to how many of us feel right now.

How is one supposed to feel in a situation like this? What is the “right” way to behave? Inform yourself? Sure. Drown in a sea of negative news feeling helpless and useless? Maybe. Or maybe not. It is wrong not to care, yet it feels like I don’t have the right to worry too much either – after all, who am I to complain? Am I even allowed to feel the weight currently building up on my chest whilst my personal life is (still?) safe?

I find it absurd to carry on with daily life, worry about exams or even celebrate the fact that COVID restrictions are being lifted. But what else are we supposed to do? Of course, donations and demonstrations are one way to help and show your support. And even more importantly, welcoming any war refugees with open arms. But when I see photos of brave soldiers fighting for their country saying goodbye to their families who flee the country, families being separated, I wonder how life can simply continue. 

It is almost ridiculous how we’ve spent two years talking about nothing other than COVID, which in the course of one day has almost been extinguished from all headlines. I am saying this carefully given that I am no politician but did we waste too much time worrying about one single issue?

And yet it is true, every day I am washing my face there has been a war fought somewhere in the world. While I truly believe that every life is worth the same and that every war — regardless of who it may involve — deserves attention, I cannot deny that this one, in particular, has affected me more than any other before. Is this because I am racist and ignorant of problems outside of Europe? I hope not. While there are many troubled countries in the world, Europe always seemed like a safe haven. 

More like the one responsible for saving other countries and establishing world peace. So, if now, our continent is falling apart, too, how can we ever be strong enough to draw enough attention to solving all conflicts in the world?

What is the conclusion I draw? I don’t know how to behave. What to feel. In what intensity. I wish I could do more, yet I can’t. All that’s left for me to do is to hope that this nightmare will end soon – knowing that Europe, the way I grew up knowing it, will never be the same again.

Featured Image: Mathias P.R. Reding/Pexels
Edited by: Katrien Nivera

Lea Teigelkötter
Lea is a 20-year-old Communication Science student living in Amsterdam. Next to her passion for all things starting with the letter F: Food, Fitness, Fashion, Feminism and the TV show Friends, as a writer, she loves to get serious and discuss contemporary issues in our society. Working for Medium Magazine finally allows her to channel her inner Carrie Bradshaw.

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