There was a time when the sound of sirens meant that its the first Wednesday of the month, they were tested and sounded for a brief moment. Tested? Yes, unfortunately, there are places where people live with the silent whisper of conflict constantly. It's in the back of your mind like that feeling of forgetting something without knowing what it is, and although you checked… keys, wallet, makeup, tissues… All here! It's nagging in the back of your mind.
Today, sirens, for a brief moment trigger the most horrifying sensations there is — the start of the war.
On March 24, 1999, while I was having dinner — pancakes with homemade jam — I first heard the sirens that meant imminent danger. Although there were threats, I don't think that human beings (well at least most of us) are capable to believe that war will happen no matter how many signs there are. No one ever thinks that someone is that crazy, yet there always is. We unconditionally believe in peace, yet we forget to protect it.
My parents told me to pick up the essential things and run into the shelter. I was 15, I packed a few school books, and some clothes — little did I know that no one will be back to school that year.
What happened for the next 78 days still seems unreal. War. In Europe. Bombs. Fear. Hope. I still can't put it in words… except these few.
Sirens start sounding again, every year on March 24 at noon. To remind us, as if we could ever forget. Even today, when I hear those sirens, knowing I am safe, for a fraction of the second I freeze and look at the sky. My knees become weak, my heart starts pounding and I am ready to run. Typical flight or flight response. It lasts for a second or less until the rational brain tells you “all is good, you are safe”.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine, the siren in my head sounded and I´ve been living in that second since then. As thousands of Ukrainians, fighting for their lives, deciding whether they should stay and risk their lives or leave and maybe lose everything. There is no right decision. The decision no one ever should have to make. And yet, there are too many women taking their children to the unknown, and men waving goodbye whit one hand while holding a gun in the other.
It’s so hard to forget pain, but it’s even harder to remember sweetness. We have no scar to show for happiness. We learn so little from peace.
Chuck Palahniuk, Diary
And you may ask “what did you learn from the war?” — Not much except that it was destructive and unnecessary. But I am not telling you anything new, right?
What we should learn from peace is what really matters. To nurture the part of us without which humankind wouldn't exist, grow and protect love, not the one that will fight the war but the one that will prevent all of them. To love others not so much for the good they´ve done to us, as for the good we´ve done to them.
We need to always refer to the human part inside of us and understand that for people leaving everything behind, even the smallest act of kindness can mean the world. We need to focus on people and not look at this war as if it was a football game where we take sides and let them play. We need to urge our leaders to communicate, to use democracy and diplomacy as the main tools for protecting the peace, and ask them to abolish nuclear weapons and stop investing and receiving money from the arms industry — the only one rubbing their hands now. We need to be tolerant and respect differences, and educate generations about peace and human rights.
We need to do whatever is in our power to not have this madness for even another second. Each second someone lives in fear of bombs, runs from home, take arms to kill, waves goodbye knowing it can be forever is one second too many.
Hearing the sirens should never make memories.