Those of us in the Pacific Northwest know that winter brings grey, wet weather for long stretches at a time. This week, I have enjoyed a wonderful spell of sunshine and warmth. I’m trying to focus on my immediate world of burgeoning tulips and irises, relishing the gifts of nature and of being able to walk outside, safely, uneventfully.
I’ve had a very hard time keeping anxiety at bay and being focused and productive since…well, since a long time! If you read my last blog, you know why. But 2022 has brought on new disquiet. Maybe because I grew up listening to my parents’ harrowing WW2 stories, I feared and fully expected the Russian invasion of Ukraine to take place. And so, tragically, it has come to pass.
Perhaps more than some people, and as much as other people, I have over-identified with the plight of the Ukrainians and I’ve had trouble keeping up with daily life. I am now bringing it up in some conversations – to the commiserative relief of some, and the avoidant dispassion of others. The Ukraine war and its potential threats to world security are a new elephant in the room.
Even after making donations to international relief organizations, I have still felt a sense of helplessness. What more can ordinary people do? I’d love to hear your ideas and suggestions.
I suppose, touching our own inner circles of influence, we all make a positive difference when we voice our perspectives and speak up for what we think is right. It can be so hard to do this when we fear serious consequences like losing our jobs, our reputations, our credibility, our relationships. I’m all too often gripped by these kinds of fears. But at this poignant moment in time, I can’t help but wonder, for myself, what are these losses compared to losing a home, loved ones, life, and country? Or going to jail for voicing the truth?
Autocrats the world over hold power because people give it to them, especially those within their inner circles. They endow this power because they directly benefit from it, even though it means dis-empowering all others outside the clique at the top.
This scenario is not as removed from citizens in “the free world” as we might think. I have often thought that many workplaces are like dictatorships or one-party states. Millions of employees everywhere suffer on a daily basis because of organizational politics and power dynamics. Sometimes we are direct victims or pawns of the power plays of others, and sometimes we are indirectly complicit in an organization’s tyranny because we’re scared of losing our jobs or otherwise being punished. No blame or casting judgment – it’s simply what happens.
What’s your organization like? Is it an autocracy, an oligarchy, a democracy, a blend of political systems? Organizations with democratic structures have free-flowing and open information, shared decision-making, degrees of personal autonomy, and flexible ownership of roles and functions. A spirit of tolerance permeates throughout the organization. I would love to hear if you work at a democratic workplace. It gives me hope that they are out there.
In my small world, I am practicing speaking, listening, and sincerely engaging with others. This is how I can be a force for good in family, work, and community politics.
Back to the invasion of Ukraine. I did find – thank you, LinkedIn – a database of corporations that indicates where businesses stand on this conflict. Exit Russia currently has more than 170 international companies on its list, and it is continually updating and expanding its information. All kinds of companies in all kinds of sectors appear here, including some that might surprise you. For example, it had never occurred to me that Asana or Slack might have a presence in Russia, until I saw this list.
So, in addition to donations, speaking up here at home, and (your ideas here, please), we can put our money where our hearts are.
Let’s stay connected and be aware of the difference we can make to others near and far. I’m inspired by the many good, loving people close to me. My mental health is a lot better for it!