Ukrainian response shows us the true meaning of courage | Matt Mohan-Hickson

What does true courage and bravery look like?

By Matt Mohan-Hickson
Monday, 28th February 2022, 8:03 pm

The movies might want us to believe it is something almost supernatural in nature involving otherworldly beings dressed in tights and capes.

Flying around, causing mass destruction as they ‘save the world’ by punching a collection of CGI pixels.

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COURAGE: The sunflower emblem of Ukrainian resistance on the walls of the Russian embassy in London. Picture: Getty

But in reality it looks far more like a man casually smoking a cigarette as he picks up a landmine from the road with his bare hands before carrying it away to safety.

Or a woman giving birth in a shelter as bombs rain down on her city.

It is also a highly-ranked tennis player signing a camera with ‘no war please’, knowing that act will probably result in his name being added to a list.

As well as looking like people travelling away from safety back to their homeland in order to fight for its very existence.

And of course it also looks like people taking to the streets with signs decrying their own country’s warmongering, when they know they face arrest and punishment. Yet still they go.

It could even look like 13 soldiers failing to surrender Snake Island and then fighting to their deaths - but that may be more propaganda fantasy than reality.

The last few days, because yes, it is only a handful of them since this war began, have already given us innumerable examples of true bravery.

Vladimir Putin might be a borderline insane dictator but his decision to invade Ukraine has given us example after example of the strength of the human spirit.

It might seem like a trivial thing but seeing Ukrainians still churning out memes based around the war, showing that humour – as dark as that may be – can still survive in the grimmest of times is a reminder of that.

Hollywood has long tried to make out that courage and bravery belong to god-like heroes, modern Greek gods with chiselled bodies. But in truth we are all capable of it when the time calls for it.

Would I join to fight if the UK was invaded? Hopefully I will never have to find out the answer to that question.

This is war so there will be propaganda on both sides

I have spent a lot more time glued to my phone recently, trying to follow all the updates from Ukraine.

It started with Putin’s unhinged lecture on how it wasn’t even a country. Scrolling, scrolling, scrolling, trying to follow every twist.

But I have also had to remember to take words coming from the Ukrainian side with a pinch of salt. There will be propaganda on all sides.

It does look like the Russians might have taken heavy casualties but perhaps not the 4,000 being bandied about. This would be a quarter of all deaths the Russians suffered in Afghanistan in the ’80s. This is the first European war in the age of social media and it is vital to check your sources.

Fat or slim? The chances of Russia slinking back home

What will it take for Vladimir Putin to de-escalate the war? As I write there are peace talks scheduled at the border between Ukraine and Belarus.

Hopefully they will go extremely well and Russia will take it as an opportunity to slink back and end the conflict.

After all, it has suffered heavy sanctions and found more resistance from Ukrainian armed forces than perhaps they expected.

But let's not get our hopes up, Putin does not seem to be acting rationally and I fear he will push on. So hopefully this will age terribly and you will all be reading this thinking ‘how silly he was to think that the peace talks won’t work out’.

I’ve got my fingers crossed.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

A message from the editor, Mark Waldron.

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