The man I was /The man I am

Mark/RAF Junior technician 1990

Looking at this picture, think. I had a choice. Ukrainian and Russian boys don’t. The young men die in old men’s wars and there is no glory in it.

It’s not often that I find myself struggling to express my feelings. However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has left me at a loss at how to express myself. The sense of shock was the first thing I had to wrestle with. This is strange because I knew on an intellectual level Putin was going to invade.

It shouldn’t have been a shock, but it still surprised me. The next was a disappointment. Isn’t that strange? I knew I wouldn’t do anything significant to help, not couldn’t, I’m perfectly aware that I can kill and that years spent in forces and a Gulf Wars prepared me to do so, but I am not going to put myself at risk when my family needs me home, and that left me feeling very disappointed in the man I thought I was, the man I used to be.

Next came the realisation that if Putin was successful in his invasion, he would be unlikely to want to stop. What if the next country in the way of his armies would be Poland, the homeland of my partner and her family? So then came fear, not for myself but for the woman I love. Any hint of war in Poland, and she would be there. She would defend her home and family as a doctor and knowing her with a weapon when needed.

At that point, I stopped and thought things through. What will I do if the woman I love leaves for war? Do I stay and keep the home fires burning, or do I step forward as someone willing to fight tyranny?

Only time will tell what will happen, but I hope I am the man I think I am

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