I participate in a workshop led by my father. It’s about restoring something old. The group is varied and international, and I like the other people and the group atmosphere. I am working with a young man and ask him where he is from. He seems unhappy about the question and gives the name of what I assume is his village. I ask: Where is that. He responds, even more unhappily: near Minsk. He seems unhappy about being revealed as Russian in this international group, and I feel compassion for him and see that my apparently innocent question created discomfort for him.
We are now one week into Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, and I imagine this type of interaction happens in many places in the world. Many Russians abroad don’t share Putin’s views and politics, and it’s uncomfortable for them to be associated with him just because they are Russian.
I feel a lot of compassion for the ones directly impacted by the horrors of the war, and also for the Russians who never wanted it.
And, if I dig a bit deeper, I can also find compassion for the ones agreeing with Putin. (The ones who support an illegal and completely unnecessary invasion of a democratic country in spite of the tremendous and ongoing suffering it will bring.) And even for Putin himself. (He is clearly tormented, otherwise, he wouldn’t do what he does.)
And, as I have written about before, this compassion doesn’t make the invasion any less unjust, wrong, profoundly misguided, and something I strongly oppose in my own small way.
Why is my father in the dream? Perhaps because I, by accident, called him when I woke up in the middle of the night and wanted to start a podcast. This dream happened after that. Also, more importantly, although he is trained as an architect and artist, he has a side-interest in restoring antique furniture and clocks. (And does it very well.)
Why restoring something old? I am not exactly sure what we are restoring in the dream, it may be an old mill. Perhaps it’s about repairing old conflicts, and restoring and remembering the peaceful and friendly elements in our past? This is important collectively, and it’s important for me to do within myself.