It has been over two weeks since the daily news starts with the pictures from Ukraine, which is devastated by war. So many people of good will have got involved in humanitarian help for the Ukrainian people suffering from Russian aggression. By organising transports with food and medical supplies, sending the articles of basic needs, assisting the refuges and opening hearts and doors for them, joining the Pope’s Francis appeal for fasting and prayer – they show solidarity with victims of war and unity in advancing the peace.
Among various ways to express solidarity has also been proposed to display avatars and banners on the Internet. It’s amazing how many people welcomed it and adopted it for their social media. It is Matthew Howard who presents this idea in his article below.
By now we have all seen images and videos of Ukrainians desperately trying to flee the terror of war. Etched into our collective minds are scenes of mothers holding their children in their arms, knowing the horror and uncertainty of what lies ahead. In these moments, we are touched with a truth held deep in all of our shared humanity; this unjust aggression must be stopped. There is something about a parent holding their child in a time of occupation and war that brings out our resolve to stand in solidarity against acts of evil.
The idea of an escalating NATO military response comes with the very real possibility of a nuclear catastrophe. This has not stopped the world from showing their outrage at Russia’s invasion and supporting Ukraine. The denunciation is overwhelming, as shown by the UN resolution condemning Russia’s actions being passed 141 to 5. It is in this context that the Redemptorist family continues to explore ways to stand in solidarity with Ukraine.
It is no secret that the Russian government is waging an asymmetrical war of disinformation online. These troll farms have been at work for years now interfering in elections and causing foment for various causes as agent provocateurs online. Our resistance to this should come by way of unified opposition to this tactic.
We have created social media avatars and banners to show solidarity with the people of Ukraine under the patronage of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Individual people, parishes, and Redemptorist communities and Provinces from around the world are replacing their social media avatars with that of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Please consider joining us in this act of solidarity. Let our resolve for peace be as strong as President Putin’s thirst for war.
Screensavers and social media badges in solidarity with Ukraine can be found below. Let this symbol be a witness to the world. As Redemptorist Superior General Michael Brehl has said, “We are called to witness and to prophetic witness. The prophetic witness is not just preaching from a pulpit, it’s not just proclaiming the Word of God and then how the Word of God touches us today. To be a witness means that we testify to what we have seen”.
The coming weeks and months will be difficult for good-faith actors to navigate online as there is now and will be pro Ukraine disinformation being shared as well.
It was not too long ago that the majority of western networks supported the specious claims of the Bush (US) administration that led to the invasion of Iraq. We will all need to temper our anger and despair and only share the most reputable and vetted sources online.
There is a truth found in this image of a mother holding her child, the lamb, the innocent, that cries out to those gazing upon it that says, people matter.
Matthew Howard is a Redemptorist partner in mission and co-author of The Australian Catholic Bishops Social Justice Statement, Making it Real: Genuine human encounter in our digital world.