I tend to be a nervous flyer. If you’re on a plane we’re on, you’ll recognize me as the one holding it up with both hands. And the flight to Amsterdam August 18 to meet our river boat was going to last 10 hours. I’d been psyching myself up for it ever since we bought the tickets last October.
Two hours before we had to head to LAX, a friend called. “Did you hear about that plane out of Amsterdam that was just shot down over Ukraine?”
The last thing I wanted to know was that a large passenger plane had just crashed. No, that was third to last. Second to last was that the crash was caused by a ground-to-air missile. The last thing I wanted to know was that the crash was somehow connected to Amsterdam Airport. I envisioned our landing being complicated by high levels of public security accompanied by high levels of inward insecurity.
As we sorted through the details I realized Amsterdam wasn’t really implicated. Ironically, the flight (Malaysian Airlines MH17) had taken off from the city where our river boat trip would start and had crashed in the country just beyond Romania, where it would end.
But I couldn’t see how that could affect us. I relaxed–and turned my attention instead to those in the Ukraine who were affected, who are affected by the Russian Bear breathing down their necks.
A couple of weeks earlier we had taken a trip to Portland on Amtrak. The young man who made up our beds spent most of his time talking to passengers. He’d stand in one doorway after another, talking so loudly it interfered with our reading and our own conversations. I was really irritated–until he stood in our doorway and I got to talking with him. He had an intriguing mix of admirable ideas and bizarre ones (he loved life, had a heart for helping people, but he was his own god). I realized after awhile that he and I were talking just as much and just as loudly as the others I had inwardly seethed about.
Anyway, this young man is married to a girl from Ukraine. He said she wouldn’t date him for a long time, saying he was “too cocky,” but he persuaded her he was just “confident.” (I thought she’d been right the first time.) This Russian girl thinks (so therefore he thinks) it would be great if Russia
gobbled up took over Ukraine. She said a lot of Russians live there and they all want to be under Russian domination rule.
Sure they do. Shades of Nazi Germany: the Germans in Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland WANT us to invade–and nobody else matters!
Note: I took a break from writing this just now to go with Jerry to a church picnic. Would you believe we sat near a woman named Olga who was born and raised on the eastern border of Ukraine. Her father was Ukrainian and her step-mother was German. (They spoke Ukrainian, German and Russian at home.)
Olga still has family in Donetsk and Luhansk. She Skypes with them every week and they keep her abreast of the latest situation there. Olga said Russian soldiers control the area where her family lives and thousands have died. They let citizens travel east into Russia but they don’t let them travel west within their own country.
Her family members have intermarried with Russians so in the same household some may want the Russians to come in and others want to keep Ukraine for the Ukrainians. Talk about crosstown rivals under the same roof! I thought we had friction with both USC and UCLA fans in the same family!
She said the Russian government paid her brother 500 rubles to become pro-Russian. That amounts to $13.53. He should have played harder to get. I checked the internet when I got home and the bribe, being offered door to door, has gone up to 1,000 rubles per adult and 500 per child. Some citizens of Ukraine are willing to sell their freedom for $27. That’s too small an amount to even characterize them as greedy. It’s just short-sighted, so short-sighted it’s pathetic.