For all our faults as a people, Americans consistently demonstrate compassion in the face of incalculable tragedy, offering to help strangers they’ve never met – sometimes faraway in places they’ve never heard of.
Ukraine is a place most of us have heard of, probably. The cities of Kyiv and Odessa we might’ve seen in movies or even visited at some point. In the Philly area, about 60,000 people claim Ukrainian heritage, with about 16,000 Ukranian emigres calling the Delaware Valley home, according to reporting by Noah Zucker for Philly Voice.
Given Philly’s obsession with realness, the specter of Soviet-style disinformation and profligate mind games and deception is a glaring philosophical assault on our local values and customs.
Do you think that dirtball Vladimir Putin would ever get out of line at a Sixers game? Gimme a break. The bum. Save that for cities that aren’t afraid of the sports fanbase.
But more than our shared values or the cold, emotionless DNA connection is our figurative connection as sibling democracies, one much older and the other much younger. The younger, Ukraine, is now under grave threat of being forcibly led astray away from fairness, multiculturalism, fact-based policy debates, and individual rights and toward the cave dwelling ignorance of superstition and rumor, propaganda, whataboutism, rampant corruption, and societal standards and laws that constantly change based upon the whim of whoever is the most senior bureaucrat holding a rifle pointed at that state’s citizens.
These are big issues, admittedly. Overwhelming even. So, how, exactly, can Philadelphians help?
Here are five ways you can make a difference right now for Ukraine as the country heroically resists the Russian occupying force. Most involve monetary donations. Cash is the most effective way to help any one organization, cause, or humanitarian effort. Low on cash? No problem. You can express your First Amendment rights at no cost aside from a few minutes of your time, and we’ve provided instructions for that, too.
- Rent an Airbnb in Ukraine when you have no intention of staying there or visiting. This option took off like wildfire on the Internet this week because it is one of those things that sounds ingenious that upon second thought sounds too easy and good to be true. NPR investigated, however, and it turns out this workaround gets cash directly into the hands of Ukranians, a high impact way to help instantly.
- Donate to the Kyiv Independent. This modest newspaper reporting facts not propaganda is currently carrying the entire war’s reporting on its back. Many journalists refused to stop working, opting instead to chronicle the invasion. They desperately need funds to maintain operations. It’s worth noting that journalism is an inherently dangerous career, in particular across war zones. TIME reports that a cameraman was killed on March 1 in Kyiv. And just recently, Russian forces murdered American journalist Brent Renaud just outside the capital. Across the border in Russia, new crackdowns on free speech and paramilitary attacks on foreign journalists make it even more perilous than normal.
- Urge Congress and the White House to support NATO and provide the necessary aid so Ukraine can defend itself more robustly or enforce its own no-fly zone. A no-fly zone requires the use of technology like electro-magnetic pulse or traditional weaponry and guns. Currently, the Biden Administration is refusing to support a NATO or US-led no-fly zone as it would be enforced by American or allied jets taking down Russian jets in violation of the zone. Russia, whose nuclear arsenal rivals the United States’ own gargantuan nuke supply, has said such action would be interpreted as joining the war against them. With that in mind, a workaround would be to equip the Ukranians themselves with the technology and airplanes needed to maintain air superiority over Russia while still technically not immediately activating a global nuclear war. Granted, that’s what the actual experts say on MSNBC. Anyway, you can find your representatives in Congress online at congress.gov.
- Donate to the International Red Cross. Historically, Switzerland remains entirely neutral in conflict, even doing so during World War II in the face of Nazism. This time, however, the Swiss government is being less craven and actually speaking in a language they understand, money, by joining the world in levying economic sanctions against Russia. With the Swiss principle of neutrality as backdrop, the International Red Cross, based in the Swiss city of Geneva, has enjoyed protection under international law and treaty as a result of their concern for all combatants and civilians. They’re working on efforts providing relief to refugees fleeing Ukraine as well as civilians and combatants still in the country. You can donate online.
- Donate cash or supplies to Razom for Ukraine. This pro-democracy national organization is currently providing direct aid to the frontlines by way of medical supplies. They’re also prioritizing storytelling, ensuring that the facts are shown globally about Russian atrocities, the losses painfully incurred by the people of Ukraine, and what the reality is on the ground
Still want to do more? You could always go above and beyond and stop whining on Facebook about gas prices since Russia’s illegal war and sanctions imposed on the rogue nation are affecting global oil supply. Gas prices might be higher for a little bit. This is where it actually matters: does freedom have price? And are human lives worth more than refilling our gas tanks?
Besides, nobody needs to know how high the gas price is at the Sunoco down the way. We can see it, it’s the big lit up sign.