Witnesses Against War #21: Secondary School Teacher

18 July 2022

Source: Witnesses Against War

Witnesses Against War is an anonymous international group of journalists, writers, historians and translators, who live in Moscow and London. For reasons of security, their project is anonymous. In addition to the above websiste, you can also find them on Instagram  and Telegram.

A teacher at a secondary school in a Russian city.

However sad it is, the war in Ukraine is gradually receding into the periphery of my attention. The first couple of weeks were very hard. I followed the news from various sources, watched videos and photographs, discussed the situation with my relatives, even with schoolchildren at work, although this was fraught with danger as was hinted at by the school administration. But gradually the routine of everyday reality dragged me in: spring is the time for exams, and the beginning of summer is the anticipation of a vacation, the dream of traveling (albeit only in Russia), and finally just good weather for walking and cycling.

But every morning I still start with reading the news, but now it’s only Meduza, I unsubscribed from UNIAN and RIA Novosti back in April: both of them are emotionally toxic, because they actively smear mud on the opposite side. Moreover, my position on the war in Ukraine was formed in the early days and has not changed since then. Any war is bad. The civil war – and this is how I perceive the war between Ukraine and Russia – is doubly bad (if that is possible). And from the fact that I learn about a new dead child or a blown up bridge, or hear the stupidity of Russian officials, my position will not change, and the war will not stop. So why waste energy on it.

Yes, it sounds very cynical, crude. But I don’t know any other way to save my strength and feelings without wasting them on “empty” experiences. I believe that everyone has to have personal resources so that in the changed circumstances – and I am sure that sooner or later the situation will get out of the military impasse in which it is now – they can start doing something concrete and useful. In the meantime, I speak with the older children at school allegorically, talking, for example, about the double effect of Thomas Aquinas, with the help of which one can quite definitively separate good from evil. Without going into details: an act is virtuous if it does not intentionally bring harm to others, and harm is an unintended consequence. An act that was originally intended to cause intentional harm cannot be justified. This is how I have been living for the last months: I’ve buried myself in my work and my books, and escaped from reality.

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