Aleksandr Podrabinek: Rhetorical Aid

24 November 2022

by Aleksandr Podrabinek

Source: Facebook

The European Parliament has declared Russia a sponsor of terrorism. I don’t know whether it’s just a coincidence, but this happened on 23 November, when there was a massive Russian missile attack on Ukraine. Or more precisely, on the country’s energy infrastructure. As a result, many Ukrainian cities plunged into darkness, the water supply and communications were cut off, and housing and entire districts were left without heat. 

How is Europe reacting to Ukrainians’ catastrophic situation? It’s passing resolutions. Very serious resolutions of purely symbolic significance. The European Union does not have a concept of “state sponsor of terrorism,” so this resolution can have no consequences of any kind. It’s hot air, the noble indignation of people who are giving out high-profile declarations instead of real aid.

In addition, the very concept of “sponsor of terrorism” is scarcely applicable to the current situation. In this case, Russia is not sponsoring terrorist activities on the territory of another country, it is waging war against it. Saying this is terrorism is like calling it a special military operation. All these euphemisms diminish the situation and distract from the essence of the matter. Terrorism is the lot of single actors and marginal groups, whereas here an entire state is bringing all its might and considerable military capabilities crashing down on Ukraine. This is a brutal war, and we should be calling things by their real names, not substituting concepts.

The European Parliament’s resolution resounded loudly and everyone wrote about it, so deputies can consider their mission accomplished. It is another matter that realistically this does nothing whatsoever to help Ukraine. Virtuous words do not stop the missiles flying at power stations and apartment houses. Real aid today is supplying anti-aviation and anti-missile defence systems. That is what the European deputies should have been talking about. They should have passed stern and exacting resolutions about this.

The European Parliament’s current position makes me think of this. You’re walking down the street and you see a homeless person—underdressed, hungry, stiff with cold—sitting in the snow on the cold, wet asphalt. He asks for your help, and you, naturally, being a sympathetic person, stop and … No, you don’t give him money or clothing. You start condemning loudly and heatedly the social sins of our world, the heartlessness of the authorities, and the indifference of society. You’re overcome by noble indignation and call on everyone around you to share your indignation at what is happening. So that everyone can see you’re not walking past the poor man indifferently. Having spoken your mind, conscious of a duty fulfilled, you go on about your business, while the homeless person continues to sit on the cold asphalt the way he did before your speech.

In essence, no one can force you to take another person’s misfortune to heart, and you are not obligated to help your neighbour. That is your right. That is your choice. You can walk by indifferently, you can stop and speak your mind, and the next time you can simply take a different route so that the homeless vagrant’s sufferings don’t trouble your conscience. 

But you can’t be sure you won’t end up in his place one day. Anything can happen in life, and the misfortune that strikes one person can strike anyone else. Then it will be your turn to sit on the cold asphalt and watch the smug gentleman who instead of real assistance limited himself to indignation addressed to an unjustly arranged world walk away.

Translated by Marian Schwartz

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