A few days ago, somebody wrote “war is a failure of humanity”. That statement ruffles my feathers. It tries to escape reality, by projecting an act chosen by a few people, and executed by many more, onto an abstract notion. A mass noun like humanity can’t fail, it can only be. Individuals and groups decide to take actions, they are responsible for their deeds, and they implicitly choose to live with the consequences.

The war of Russia against Ukraine started after a decision taken by the inner circle around the Russian president, and is executed by the Russian army, supported or tolerated by its vassals in the region. The pretences that we have heard in the past period are clearly hollow, and only live in the imagination of those that decided this. So, without any real cause, they committed an irresponsible act of aggression, in fact a crime against humanity.

This behaviour challenges us, in the west and middle of Europe, to choose how to deal with it. Such an act of aggression against a country and its population is unacceptable, and requires a clear answer. And answer mostly directed towards those that decided this, but also towards those that execute it or tolerate it. It is more than time to reflect thoroughly our relationship and trade with countries and leaders that ignore the wellbeing of their people, or their neighbours, with persons that only are motivated by personal gain, only serving the interests of their clique, or that are lost in their delusions. Humanity as a whole should be the priority in our acts, not the interests of some groups or countries, and our choices should better be grounded in reality.

It will take time and perseverance to make us economically less dependent of countries led by small influence groups around some key figures, who don’t care about the needs of others. To only have trade when labour over there is following humane conditions. To potentially no longer go to sports events, or participate in events over there. To equip ourselves appropriately against concrete threats from those states. We’ll have to make choices many times, each time taking all circumstances into account, and hopefully guided by the deeper values in us, that prioritise humanity above financial gain of some groups.

As a European citizen, I feel solidly grounded in human values, that are universal, and that were partly shaped and expressed on this continent, and I’d like to spread them further across this world. In my neighbourhood, there is a Russian shop, and my next-door neighbours are Ukrainians. The events that happen in the far east of Europe touch me over here, and do not leave me indifferent. I hope that over time, Europa may be fully united, including Belarus, Ukraine and Russia, based on diversity and human connection. I want to continue to choose and decide my actions from my deep conscience, and I want to encourage all people and leaders to do the same, guided by the care for the well-being of those around us, and by a love for humanity as a whole.