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LJ Idol IX - 16. A Terrible Beauty Has Been Born (~750 words)

Warning: some swearing.

Nearly two years ago, a friend and I were caught in the wake of the mayhem caused by superstorm Sandy: we were on vacation in Los Angeles and should have returned home with a layover in New York on October 31, 2012. Obviously, this did not happen. We were delayed by half a day then sent home through Detroit and Paris instead. Those were rather stressful several days, and the news reports about the storm's progress as well as stories from friends in New York were mesmerizing as well as terrifying.
During that time, I was impressed by the professionalism and efficiency of the news reports which sounded at once detached and cool-headed as well as involved. One bit of disaster preparedness advice has also stayed with me: even when living in a potentially affected area, you should fight the compulsion to follow the news around the clock. Giving yourself breaks from the tension is as important as being prepared to evacuate or do whatever else may be necessary to stay safe.

The political situation here and now, with the incessant updates on the civil war in Ukraine, feels like the storm made me feel back then. Only, there is neither an end in sight nor any hope of getting accurate information from the media of any of the parties involved. "Mental health breaks" also appear difficult when it seems that this what everyone discusses all the time.
Also, I do not see where my country is involved in the conflict to the degree that warrants the slowly but constantly escalating "sanctions" were are always told about. It all started with Crimea, understandably. Crimea was also the what-the-fuck of all the what-the-fucks in a good long while. The "annexation" or "reentry" of this region into Russia was abrupt, unexpected, and dodgy.
It was dodgy when about two weeks after the start the civil unrest there, a "humanitarian aid to Crimea" collection point was organized at my college. "What, they need aid already?!" was my reaction.
It was dodgy when soon after that the Government permitted potential entry of the army into Crimea because while it was said on the news that the voting was open, they did not show the chamber and the delegates casting their votes, like they normally do, but only a screen with the supposed results.
It was dodgy when the referendum was held, just like that, on that territory of a sovereign State, on whether it wanted to join another State, but not also in Russia asking its citizens whether they, us, wanted Crimea to join. We did not get a vote.
This act split the public opinion, as well. My friends and I, who are in our late 20s - early 30s, all thought, "What the fuck?!" while our parents were close to ecstatic. More people were close to ecstatic then not though if the joy that hung in the air for a couple of days after the final news broke was any indication. There was also a salute celebrating the occasion which disconcerted me, for the only times I am aware of that happening outside of a handful of State holidays was after major victories during WWII. And this, this was no victory.

Outside this dodgy business though, our media are not reporting anything that may qualify as a continued assault against Ukrainian sovereignty. No Government permission for the army to enter other territories, no official help being offered to the Eastern territories by providing ammunition or arms. I do not even remember hearing of humanitarian aid being sent across the border, unless you count succor to refugees on our soil.
This lack of mentions, however, is quite dodgy in its own right. What media do report are news from both sides of the conflict as well as the news about the sanctions against Russia that I have already mentioned, and the return sanctions that may be taken against the "aggressor" countries (indeed, just today there was talk on the radio about closing Russian air space to non-stop flights to Asia operated by European companies because apparently, Russia has signed no general treaties to that effect, and only case-by-case agreements).
What the reports do not contain is an open refutal of accusations behind the sanctions. Come to think of it, the accusations themselves are also glossed over and not reiterated time and again as should, it seems, be expected.

These "interesting times", fascinating though they are, better end soon.


( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 5th, 2014 11:05 pm (UTC)
ConCrit is welcome.

Experimenting with format: is this indented text easy enough to read, or is it preferable to stick to separating paragraphs with empty lines?

This entry is a companion to the one from Week 13, where I wrote my perspective on what was happening before the conflict.
Aug. 6th, 2014 04:47 am (UTC)
*hugs* It's a rough situation.

I found the entry easy to read -- I didn't even notice you'd switched things until you mentioned it at the end. :)
Aug. 6th, 2014 09:10 pm (UTC)
Yes, and it partially feels like falling down the rabbit hole.

I am glad you did not notice the change in format :). It means I did not ask that HTML question for nothing.

Thank you!
Aug. 13th, 2014 03:39 am (UTC)
You're welcome!
Aug. 6th, 2014 04:45 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for taking the time to type out and share your thoughts and viewpoints from this other vantage that the media does not have access to. I oftentimes believe that a person must spend time in these countries of which media and politics are focused on to glean some understanding of the complex situations.
Aug. 6th, 2014 09:20 pm (UTC)
You're welcome.

Writing these entries helped me as well, as I was able to focus on all the little things that were happening here and there, and think about them as a whole. I do not like the resulting picture, and I can not be sure that it is a true reflection of what is going on, but it certainly helps to put things more into perspective.

Aug. 6th, 2014 08:24 pm (UTC)
this was super interesting to read, because us news (i don't know about the news in other countries) generally only tells one side. and it's always good to know what people think in the countries that are actually involved. "may you live in interesting times" certainly is a curse, isn't it.

(format-wise i kind of prefer the blank lines between paragraphs rather than indents, but this wasn't that hard to read.)
Aug. 6th, 2014 09:47 pm (UTC)
I looked up some of the foreign news and got disgusted with the whole "terrorist" thing.

And it is a curse indeed.

Thank you for letting me know about format :)
Aug. 6th, 2014 08:29 pm (UTC)
This is a great example of why that old Chinese saying, "May you live in interesting times," is considered a curse, not a blessing. I feel for you.
Aug. 6th, 2014 09:25 pm (UTC)
It is, is it not?

Thank you.
Aug. 7th, 2014 04:20 am (UTC)
It's interesting to read about this from your point of view. It seems like the news here focused hard on the beginning of the situation, but has dropped off since, pushing it to the back of our minds. "Interesting times" indeed.
Aug. 8th, 2014 02:35 pm (UTC)
News has a way to do this when a situation is no longer sensational. Thank you for telling me this as well, because it is also curious to me how the conflict is mentioned in other places.
Aug. 7th, 2014 10:36 am (UTC)
The tit for tat sanctions are frankly pathetic. Both sides output their propaganda. We will none of us ever be told any truth. Ugh.

To be honest, there has been very little reportage here regarding Ukraine in any capacity for several weeks. Indignation in the press is now firmly pointed at the Israeli/Gaza issue. And in Scotland, all I heard about for the past fortnight of my visit was The Commonwealth Games and forthcoming Independence issue!
Aug. 8th, 2014 02:30 pm (UTC)
They are both pathetic and frightening. (Or maybe it's just the press hysteria.) To go from the slowly but steadily improving tourist situation (quicker and easier issued multi-visit Schengen visas, automatic 3-year multis to the U.S. and so on) to this in just 6 months is unsettling, especially for those of us who are used to vacationing abroad most of the time.

To play devil's advocate and ask: are they trying to hush up the return Russian sanctions in Britain the way our media is keeping mostly mum about the reason behind "yours"?

Edited at 2014-08-08 02:31 pm (UTC)
Aug. 8th, 2014 02:58 pm (UTC)
No hush up. But at the moment there are always bigger news stories, such as the US bombing over Iraq today.

I don't think the situation regarding tourist visas between the UK and Russia has really changed at all for decades – it's always been ridiculous! But I know that for the rest of Europe and the US it has certainly much easier for you in recent years, so I hope that situation doesn't change. Anyway, fortunately you have your visas for later this month. And I'm sure you'll have a wonderful trip. :-)
Aug. 7th, 2014 04:03 pm (UTC)
It's so interesting to see the perspective from another side. I'm an American in the Middle East, and the news we get here is very different from the news we get in the US.
Aug. 8th, 2014 02:46 pm (UTC)
Do you try to keep up with both sides of the news? :)
Aug. 9th, 2014 09:03 am (UTC)
Funnily enough, I actively watch the news out of the US, but I don't bother much when I'm home - it's easy to get a sense of what's going on because it's all around. In the Middle East I end up watching BBC and Al Jazeera and I think I get a better picture from that!
Aug. 7th, 2014 06:28 pm (UTC)
It was great to get your perspective on this, especially the difference between generations in reacting to the situation.
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )

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