Monday, March 3, 2014

Russia, Ukraine, and my Couch

I woke up this morning with Russia and the Ukraine on my mind. I hold this article which addresses global news and our chief focus, as Americans, only on what happens in America, partially responsible. 

I was and still am, completely guilty of this internal focus in my news consumption. Even this morning, with all of the chaos going on in eastern Europe, there was a part of my mind hoping that the international news coverage would hurry on a bit so that I could enjoy the reporting on Oscar fashions and get an outlook on what the weather for my week looked like. 

It was when I checked my Twitter feed that my focus returned to Russia. Later today I’ll need to explain to my kids what is going on there and we’ll look at a map and we’ll try to absorb the facts. 

It seems to me that the scenario playing out on the other side of the world looks something like this:

In our family room we have a big comfy couch. It is a sectional that wraps itself around the greater part of the room. 

Two of the seats have built in recliners, the corner seat sits next to the recliners and is large and cozy. The next two seats boast nothing special and are sort of stiff and are the least comfortable of the couch, but next to those sits the prime real estate — the chaise. Sit there for just minutes on a Saturday morning and before long you’ll find that you’ve lost an hour or two of the day because it has taken you that long to coax your body out of your soft warm nest.

Naturally, the chaise seat is the most desired, most fought over, bargained for, coveted seat on our vast couch. 

The adults are just as guilty as the children when it comes to manipulating the seating arrangements so that the Seat of Happiness and comfort might be attained.

Now, imagine that comfy seat being occupied by our 8-year-old daughter Kate. She sits and knits, practicing her skill in deep concentration. Soon 5-year-old Molly comes by and begins yanking on the scarf that Kate is working on. Kate’s concentration moves from her prime seating position to her scarf which is now under attack and she scoots to the edge of the Seat of Happiness so that she can untangle Molly from her scarf. 

As it would happen, Cole the big ole 14-year-old, has been sitting on one of the uncomfortable seats. He’s been biding his time, one eye on his screen and one eye on the Seat of Comfort. He sees Molly harassing Kate. He sees Kate yielding her prime position inch after inch. He strikes scooting to fill each inch as Kate leaves them behind in her efforts to save her scarf. 

And let’s suppose that I, the mom, and Meg the peace loving sister, have been watching all of this from the comfort of the recliner chair on the other end of the couch. We see perfectly what has happened and have a fairly good idea what is about to happen. We have only a few moments to decide what position to take. 

I could be quick and firm. “Cole, get off that seat, your sister is sitting there.” I could also sit and assess the situation for awhile, letting the players get well bothered and upset before weighing in. I could leave the room completely and ignore the whole episode, letting the bigger, stronger, craftier character win the day. I could tell Kate to not make a big deal out of such a small issue and talk her into settling for a lesser seat on the couch. 

So many options.

Enough imagining. 

Let’s look at real life. 

The Seat of Happiness is the Ukraine and Kate is its citizen. Molly is the unrest that distracts the citizens and leaders in the Ukraine just now. Cole is of course, playing the role of Russia, taking advantage of an unfortunate situation on the Seat of Happines to move in on prime territory. I am the United States, and Megan is another country of the world who is as yet uninvolved. We are pondering how to handle the whole situation as we watch from our own comfortable seats on the couch which represents the world in this global analogy. 

I’m very interested to see how my own country and its allies from their recliners will deal with the situation on the other side of the world and after I tell my story to the children this morning, I think they will be eager to see how things play out as well.

Note: Links below will be useful in learning more about the situation.
The Atlantic: Putin's Playbook

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