Letters In Exile, #6

Letters In Exile, #6
Since March I have edited Letters in Exile with Maria Agureeva. Artillery generously offered Maria and other artists who had fled Ukraine and Russia an important platform from which to express their feelings, voice their grief and protest, and to share stories of courage and compassion.
There are two books I have recalled while editing. In one, by the diplomat and historian George Kennan, he expressed in the 1960s that the two most important issues to be solved in our life time are climate degradation and nuclear proliferation. As we see in Russia and Ukraine, they are inextricably linked with the ongoing state sponsored violence. The other book, The March of Folly by historian Barbara Tuchman, looks at the avoidable but mindless paths to war, ecological catastrophe, and destruction of civilizations, even though the people of those time knew better. It seems to me there is a dominant strain of reactionary violence in collective human behavior that is deeply disturbing.
The words of the Buddhist activist Thich Nhat Hahn helps show me a sane way forward; “To prepare for war, to give millions of men and women the opportunity to practice killing day and night in their hearts, is to plant millions of seeds of violence, anger, frustration and fear that will be passed on for generations to come. We know very well that airplanes, guns and bombs cannot remove wrong perceptions. Only loving speech and compassionate listening can help people correct wrong perceptions. The practice of peace and reconciliation is one of the most vital and artistic of human actions.”  

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