It’s a bit shy of six am. My phone that’s been buzzing non-stop for the last few minutes has waked me up. I’m on a business trip in Moscow, Russia. It’s too early for anyone here to call me, and it should be too late for anyone from the US to message me either.
I look at my phone. Six missed calls and a ton of messages from my good clients and friends from California. All messages and voicemails boil down to the same question, “Sergey, how are you doing, my friend?” I am flattered, confused, and still half asleep. “I’m fine, thanks for asking.” It took me a couple of days to make sense of all that worrying my friends randomly expressed in the middle of the night. It took me a hot second to realize that the world was at war!
For the first few days the Russian government referred to the war in Ukraine as “a special operation.” Russian media reassured people that there were no civilian casualties. Then, social media began to explode with footage of fighter jets flying over the major Ukrainian cities, war sirens forcing people to hide in the basements and subway stations, and hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing Ukraine into the neighboring countries.
That’s when all the hell broke loose. Police arresting people for protesting in the streets of Moscow, companies going out of business overnight due to sanctions imposed on Russia, influencers and artists declaring a war against the government on social media. And Ukraine, my dear Ukraine where my grandfather came from, just burning down in flames like it’s 1941 all over again.
People ask me what side I am on. My heart is bleeding for all the victims of war who ended up in the middle of this madness. I look at the pictures of families fleeing their homeland with nothing but the clothes on their backs and I see the biggest humanitarian crisis since WWII. But I also see Russian mothers who will never see their sons again. I see simple people who are losing their jobs, businesses, and hope because of a war that they didn’t start. I see the world stereotyping an entire nation into an enemy. And that’s where I find my answer.
I’m for the people, for those who suffered as a result of a war they didn’t want. I stand with those who speak out against hate and violence. I applaud those who don’t let hate consume them, but rather find ways to help people in need. I say no to hate and war! Нет войне!