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Pray for peace

Perilous times – that’s what we’re living in. Just turn on any cable news channel or log on to any internet news site, and you’ll get clear confirmation of that.

Like all Americans my age, I was a kid during the height of the Cold War, and nightmarish images of the possible (some said inevitable) nuclear holocaust that could bring our world to an end loomed large in my young imagination. But that, we were all told, was just part of the cost of preserving our freedoms and keeping the “evil empire” at bay.

But then, almost overnight, that empire collapsed, the Soviet-communist order dissipated like smoke on the wind, and we were all suddenly hopeful that democracy was going to prevail on the world stage and that authoritarianism was on its way out.

Now, here we are again, 30 years later, facing a new Russian threat as Vladimir Putin, a tyrannical relic of that old Soviet empire, seeks to rebuild it by force – and, unfortunately, the people of Ukraine are paying a high price for Putin’s twisted ambitions.

But, as I write this column Sunday afternoon, five days or so into the invasion, Ukrainians seem to be exacting a pretty high price on their invaders in a David-and-Goliath-style showdown.

And there’s no way not to be impressed with Ukrainian President Zelensky, a former comedian and TV personality, who has opted to stay and fight, literally right beside his own people on the streets of Kyiv.

The images coming out of that part of the world have been striking, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen media war coverage that has focused so much on the faces and voices of ordinary people dealing with the harsh realities of warfare. It’s not every day you see mothers hunkered down in basements with their children doing live interviews on primetime cable news shows.

That, of course, has everything to do with smartphones, social media, and the fact that Ukrainian authorities have somehow managed to keep the power on and internet service up for much of the country.

But, while there have been many moving and inspiring images coming out of Ukraine, this is not a movie or a reality TV show. This is entirely real, deadly serious, and a real cause for concern for every human being on the planet.

In Russia, we a have major nuclear power with the ability to strike any point on the globe in less than an hour – and the Russian military has just invaded a neighbor that just happens to be bordered by several NATO nations – and Russia has very recently placed its own nuclear forces on high alert.

And on top of all that, there are some signs and speculations that Putin may be seriously ill or having a mental breakdown (or both). A sociopathic megalomaniac facing his own demise with the power to burn the world down on his way out – well, that’s about as bad as it gets when it comes to worst case scenarios.

And while I haven’t been particularly impressed with some of our own president’s foreign policy decisions thus far, I am going to hold off on any criticism for the moment. I am hoping and praying that Biden makes all the right moves and that all the other NATO leaders do the same. This is one of those crucial moments in history when any mistake or miscalculation just might have consequences that go way beyond approval polls or who wins in the next election cycle.

It’s also a time when the decisions and actions of ordinary people (or even a system malfunction) could alter the entire course of history.

But, as in all times and circumstances, our lives are in God’s hands, and we would be wise to seek His guidance and protection.

And we should all be praying for peace.  

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