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Random musings

Mar 28, 2024 | Featured, The View From Here - Walter Kish

I begin this week’s column with the admission that when I sat down to write, I had a hard time coming up with a theme that I could hold forth on for the requisite 750 words or so. As a result, this week’s offering will be a bit of a hodge podge of things that caught my attention in recent days.

On the Russian-Ukrainian war front, the dominant story was not actually anything directly related to the war, but the horrendous terrorist attack by Islamist terrorists on a concert hall near Moscow that at last count, left 137 dead and many more injured. The Islamist ISIS terrorist group claimed credit for the attack, though the Russian authorities did everything they could in the aftermath to try and blame Ukraine for the unfortunate carnage that resulted. The terrorists released actual graphic footage of the attack which they said was in response to Russian involvement in conflicts in Syria, Chechnya and Afghanistan. Ironically, the U.S. had warned the Kremlin of a possible such terrorist attack, but this was ignored by Putin and the Russian leadership (which incidentally are one and the same).

As much as I abhor any kind of terrorism, and feel sorry for the innocent victims, I consider this type of response by Islamist groups long overdue considering the brutality and racism that the Russians have always displayed towards Muslim nations and their own Muslim populations. Russia has the largest Muslim population in Europe numbering 14 million people or about 10% of the total population. What they did in Chechnya when the Chechens tried to gain their independence, was beyond brutal. Over a hundred thousand Chechens died and much of the country was destroyed. Russia’s involvement in propping up the evil Assad regime in Syria was even more brutal resulting in over half a million Syrians killed and much of the country devastated. Russia is finally beginning to pay a price for their atrocities against Muslims.

On a more positive note, I was particularly pleased to hear this past week that Myrna Kostash, probably the foremost Ukrainian literary icon in Canada, had won the Kobzar Book Award for her latest book “Ghosts in a Photograph”. I have always been an admirer of Myrna’s prodigious literary works starting with her highly acclaimed book “All of Baba’s Children” first published in 1977. That book resonated strongly with me, as it reflected much of my own experiences as the son of Ukrainian immigrant parents. I recall interviewing her for an article I wrote for the monthly English section of this paper titled New Perspectives that I had founded and edited for a number of years. She has been writing and publishing now for almost fifty years, encompassing many genres including books, magazine articles, plays, films, stage and radio. Ukrainian themes infuse much of her works, as does her feminist credo, her intellectualism, her spirituality and her commitment to progressive causes. Although entering her eighties, her productivity and creativity appears undiminished, and I sincerely hope she keeps writing for many more years to come.

One other thing that struck my mind this week is the realization that we did not have a real winter this year, at least here in southern Ontario where I live. I can count on one hand the number of times that I had to go out and shovel snow this winter. It was unusually warm, with temperatures seldom dropping below zero during the months of January and February. To me, it beggars understanding how some people can still believe that climate change is not real when the proof is to be had by simply going outdoors in the middle of winter without needing a coat.

The last thing of note that struck me this week, arose from the fact that my wife and I had a very pleasant one-week holiday where we travelled across the continent to enjoy the unique charms of Vancouver, British Columbia. It stands out because, for the past few years going back even before COVID, circumstances had prevented us from having a real holiday. It was a wonderful break, filled with sunshine, pleasant weather, exceptional dining, incredible scenery, and a much-needed opportunity to really relax and escape from the demands and stresses of everyday life, which of late, had been taking a significant toll on us. We all need a break every now and then from the normal routines and challenges of life, and we will not wait so long again before we head out on another escape.

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