Prevent the world from unraveling
A rally in support of Ukraine was held near McGill University./Josie Desmarais/Metro
CHRONICLE – In class, last week, low cackle from everyone. A few hours earlier, Putin unleashed the dreadful, but probable: the invasion, without subtlety, of Ukraine. The silence, deafening, gives (practically) chill in the back. We wait, classic, for the teacher to determine the tone of the session.
“To be honest with you all, I had no desire to be here this afternoon. It is a pleasure to see you, of course, but events shake me, solidly. To the point of discussing regulatory power today, not sure. Could someone play the video, with sound please, of the Russian plane attacking a civilian home?
We hear a missile hitting the building next door, a child screaming, a family taking refuge in the basement. Solemn, the faces are also marked by the scale of the atrocity. Eyes cry, in silence.
“You know, war is often analyzed theoretically, with an involuntarily disinterested haughtiness. Kind of like playing Risk. But war is more of this: a human drama, first and foremost.
Shaken by the video, the entire class, flies included, falls silent.
— We have already talked about our collective medium-term future. Considering the indubitable character of climate change and its next 220 million refugees, coupled with the coming dictatorships in the West, it is possible that we are living the last 10-15 beautiful years of Humanity. Anxiety, of course. And what's happening right now could, I still hope I'm wrong, precipitate the anticipated downfall.
At the back of the class, a female student eagerly raises her hand.
“Sir, I obviously agree that it is presently a horror. But what about the other atrocities of recent years? Syria or Palestine? Why are these two issues now practically obscured by the media? Without taking anything away from the horror of the Russian attack, how would it be less serious?
Already serious, the silence now verges on bewilderment.
< p>– You are right. The media and diplomatic attention is very asymmetrical. Except that here, there is potentially, it remains to be seen, a rewriting of the geopolitical narrative of recent years. If China is colluding with Russia, and I repeat, that remains to be seen, let's call it a paradigm shift. Who are the (rare) powers that have not yet condemned the present invasion? That same China, India, and Brazil of another psychopath, Bolsonaro. Finally, let's imagine, icing on the most revolting of sundaes, the return of Trump in 2024.
Another student, a maelstrom of hope and spite, then raises her hand:
— Our sense of helplessness is so… powerful.
His intervention goes to my heart. Because she has, undoubtedly, just. What to do, from Montreal, in this ocean of injustices, of battles fought between geopolitical sumos?
— I understand, and above all share, your feelings. Our impact on what happens beyond borders is minimal, if not non-existent. And that goes, of course, for Canadian diplomacy in general. The fact remains, however, that the planetary threat is not the sole adage of the exterior, of the foreigner, but that it also resides within. Populism, propaganda, lies and the refusal of honor are slowly but surely corrupting our democratic foundations and, as a corollary and vice versa, those of the rule of law. Are we doing enough to fight against the movement, right here? Does it happen to you, at the end of a day or even a week, to ask yourself if, and how, you have contributed a little bit to slowing down the erosion? I do not prejudge anything, nor do I judge at all. But if there are, which I firmly believe, more good people than the other way around, then only apathy ensures the success of bad people.
If there is hope, it is there. Among these young people who inherit, in spite of themselves, legitimate apprehensions caused by our stupidity and perhaps, above all, our inertia.
Dixit Camus: “Each generation, no doubt, believes itself dedicated to remaking the world. But mine knows she won't do it again. But his task is perhaps greater. It consists in preventing the world from unraveling.”
More true than ever.