We cannot change everything – but we can change something

Thursday, 22. December 2016

We cannot change everything – but we can change something

Olena Kashkarova is from Ukraine and will join the International Council of IofC beginning 1 January 2017. Here she shares her reflections after watching the agonizing video clips from Aleppo, Syria.

Lena Kashkarova

I am watching the news about Aleppo, as probably many of you, in complete terror and frustration; feeling helpless in front of this huge human-made catastrophe. When something terrifying transpires it is critical for me to prevent myself from feeling completely helpless, because my frustrations and feelings of helplessness indirectly contributes to the atrocities that are happening. When I’m at a loss to find a way to engender a difference, because of the vastness of the problem, I lose hope and become frozen in my powerlessness.

It is of the utmost importance to become aware that this is a fiction and simply untrue! There is something I can do, however inconsequential it may seem. Nobody can take away that power from me. The power of performing small actions with long-standing, positive effects. Such as making donations, signing petitions, participating in demonstrations, and other advocacy activities. I’ve seen the impact of such small actions in my own country and it still moves me profoundly when I think of it.

Other initiatives we can take involve getting in touch with people and finding avenues of expression, in addition to, encouraging others to express their feelings and thoughts as well. We’re living in turbulent and traumatizing times and it’s difficult to believe that these global atrocities are taking place in real time. It’s frightening to imagine that these events could very well happen in any country. We Ukrainians are all too well aware of this very fact. And we need to support one another and continue to seek ways to avoid becoming desensitized and paralyzed with fear and disbelief. If we do not find a way to respond for the sake of those who suffer and also for our own sake, then who will?

Another response to these unstable times is to contribute to the systemic change that is needed. IofC endeavors to work on a personal and systemic level and strives to address the root causes of conflict. And that’s what inspires me. And that’s something I do not want to forget at a time when a catastrophe is happening. I want to remember that I do the work that I do because I want to be an agent of change that can lead to the ending of this kind of bloodshed. And I want to be even more determined to continue my IofC work. The call for change has never been more urgent and I strive to employ all the resources at my disposal in conjunction with IofC to contribute in the most effective and positive way possible.

I find it so important to figure this out for myself and to share with others. A colleague of mine has shared feeling numb in the situation. I want to get out of this numbness that I also feel personally and which we may feel collectively. That’s why I write to you and that’s why I am sharing this with the whole IofC community.

We cannot change everything but we can change something. And for me, that alone is enough. It is the microscopic acts that change the world.

Olena Kashkarova is a Ukrainian with a Russian background. She became involved with Initiatives of Change through its Eastern European program “Foundations for Freedom” in 2001. Her major interests are in dialogue work with a particular focus in Ukraine. Her apology as an ethnic Russian to ethnic Ukrainian laid a foundation for a start of the “Healing the Past” project which explores the root of conflict in Ukrainian society. She has worked for the UN Programme for Development as a Specialist on Reconciliation.

NOTE: Individuals of many cultures, nationalities, religions, and beliefs are actively involved with Initiatives of Change. These commentaries represent the views of the writer and not necessarily those of Initiatives of Change as a whole.