“Listen, children, to a story that was written long ago
about a kingdom on a mountain and the valley folk below”
“One Tin Soldier,” an anti-war song that was popular in the 1970s, has been playing through my mind these past few weeks as tragic images of the war in Ukraine project from my television screen.
Like millions around the world, I watch helplessly as the people of the symbolic mountain kingdom fight for the freedom that has been their treasure since they broke away from the former Soviet Union on August 21, 1991.
“On the mountain was a treasure buried deep beneath the stone,
and the valley people swore they’d have it for their very own”
Ukraine’s treasure angers a bully who believes only his entitled ego is allowed to enjoy it. And through intimidation and conflict, he steals what he thinks belongs to him.
Bullies are patient and calculated. They are marketing geniuses who know how and when to strike. They also know how to seduce the valley people, the soldiers fighting their war, into believing they are fighting a just cause.
Evil fights its battles by spinning lies and placing gag orders on the truth. It’s the fiction that has empowered corruption since the beginning of time.
If you have ever wondered why the journalists are the first ones silenced, the first ones an oppressive regime accuses of spreading lies, it’s because oppressors hate anything that challenges their message.
Freedom is the priceless currency of democracy, and it threatens the bully’s massive ego.
“So the people of the valley sent a message up the hill
asking for the buried treasure, tons of gold for which they’d kill.”
For years, Russia has denied Ukraine’s legitimacy as a sovereign nation and sought to bring it back under the control of the Russian Federation. Ukraine, however, has refused this ultimatum, seeking only to live and let live in freedom and democracy.
“Came an answer from the mountain, ‘With our brothers we will share
all the secrets of our mountain, all the riches buried there.'”
Ukraine’s refusal to surrender fueled the mad man’s rage. And he did the only thing bullies know how to do when they are backed against a wall. He resorted to violence.
“Now the valley cried with anger, ‘Mount your horses, draw your swords!’ And they killed the mountain people, so they won their just reward.”
But there’s nothing just about a reward that isn’t earned, a reward for which a heavy price is paid by both sides, a price that affects us all, no matter how far geographically we live from the battlefield.
Apathy Empowers Evil
Why should you care about what is happening in Ukraine? Why should you care about anything that you think doesn’t affect the safety of the box of apathy in which you live?
Because it can happen to you. Because it is happening to you. Because it does affect you. (And I’m not talking about your having to pay a few extra dollars to fill your $50,000 vehicle’s gas tank. Don’t even get me started on that one.)
Evil pits friends and neighbors against each other. It turns mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters into enemies.
It’s a story as ancient as Genesis and as eternal as Revelation. Matthew 24:6-13
God is Watching
Once evil has penetrated our lives at the grassroots level, it stands back and watches us fight its wars, wars we had no desire to fight in the first place. But evil isn’t the only one watching.
“Go ahead and hate your neighbor, go ahead and cheat a friend.
Do it in the name of heaven. You can justify it in the end.”
There is no justification for evil. There never will be.
Beware the rhetoric you accept as truth, and be forever watchful of spewing back someone else’s “truth” without first examining it to make sure it’s your truth.
“Now they stood beside the treasure
On the mountain, darkened red …”
Evil stands at the mountain darkened red with the blood of innocent people, ready to claim the hidden treasure for which its vanity murdered to acquire. The optimists among us believe that evil will eventually be in for an Apocalyptic surprise.
“They turned the stone and looked beneath it
‘Peace on Earth’ was all it said.
Judgment Day is Here
The people of Ukraine are fighting a mighty Goliath led by a coward. Its current fight for freedom began long before Feb. 20 of this year. Let’s not stand by and watch them die, thinking we can’t do anything.
We might not be able to fight in the streets of Kharkiv, Mariupol, Lviv or Kyiv, but we can fight back by choosing peace right now, right where we are. Peace begins with each of us. At home, at work, in our casual conversations with strangers, on social media … especially on social media.
Choose peace, my friends. Don’t leave it up to the world’s “leaders” to do it for you.
Peace is not about convincing others that we’re right and they’re wrong. Peace is about acceptance. And when nothing else works, it’s about agreeing to disagree. Because stories written long ago repeat themselves until we learn their lesson.
“There won’t be any trumpets blowing
Come the judgment day
On the bloody morning after
One tin soldier rides away.”
“One Tin Soldier” – words and music by Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter