Wednesday, March 2, 2022

United with Ukraine: A Few Thoughts

The world, and especially the Western world, has turned all eyes on Ukraine. The United States stands united with Ukraine against Russia's aggression. If you're just catching up to the historical context, you can see a timeline put together by the Department of State's Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations. For updates on the developing situation and information on what the U.S. government is doing, the Department of State has also set up a United with Ukraine webpage. In addition, the U.S. Agency for International Devlopment (USAID) Center for International Disaster Information (CIDI) has compiled a list of reputable, vetted, well-established relief organizations that are accepting donations to assist on the ground.

Another thing all of us can do is try to stop the spread of disinformation and misinformation about this (and any) conflict. Sharing propaganda can advance an agenda you don't agree with, and it incentivizes unreliable information sources to keep churning out content and getting clicks. CBC News has a great article with expert tips on how to avoid spreading misinformation about Ukraine. If you accidentally share something you later find out is untrue, it's always worth correcting the record. But even better is to prevent false information's spread in the first place. (If you're interested in this topic, see my previous blog post about spotting fake news.)

I would also be remiss if I didn't mention the discriminatory tone of multiple instances of Western media coverage and analysis of Ukraine. I can't count the number of news outlets, politicians, and even personal friends who have subconsciously made racist and Islamophobic comments. The Washington Post documented this phenomenon in reporting and commentary. In my view, we should applaud efforts to accept refugees from Ukraine but demand better for all refugees worldwide - not just the ones who are "similar to" or "look like" those with the most means to help.

I've heard from so many people I love that they can't stop doomscrolling and that they feel helpless. I don't know what the right balance is for anyone else, but I for one appreciate the chance an increasingly globalized world gives us to know (and therefore take action) regarding others' suffering even when they're far away. It has been heartening to see the Americans, Koreans, and other free people around us stand united with Ukraine and seek opportunities to help others they will probably never meet or know. If you have financial means, donate. If you have time, write to your representatives and advocate for the policies you believe in, including foreign policies. If you have an audience or a community, encourage them to care, contribute how they can, and not give in to despair. Especially in the midst of tragedy and trauma and war and violence, there is always work to be done. Let's do our part.

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