Diasporic Postcards: DREAD
While growing up, the Cold War was in full swing and life was black-and-white. Capitalism and democracy were good. Communism was bad. America was noble. The Soviet Union was evil. But black and white or not, I experienced my teenage years under the threat of global nuclear war and I was frequently anxious and lost sleep, dreading the end of the world.
With Ukraine’s recent invasion, there was initially a return to a mono-chromatic landscape. Russia’s leader was painted as a malevolent psychopath – and he is – and Western leaders as saviours – apparently. But it’s never been a black-and-white world. American propaganda has always been as rampant as Soviet/Russian disinformation. And the US has, and still is, interfering in other countries, including Ukraine, often for its own benefit and for its avaricious corporate entities.
In Canada, an alarming amount of de-democratization has occurred in the past two years which most seem willing to overlook. The government invoked the Emergency Measures Act to quell a peaceful, albeit loud, series of protests. Close to four million Canadians are still being denied freedom of movement and are unable to travel. Hashtags such as #naturalimmunity have been banned on social media platforms. Facial recognition software, which has been proven to be faulty and gender- and racially-biased, is being used by law enforcement agencies. These actions, all taken in the name of public safety, may seem innocuous but are, in fact, an insidious chipping away of personal freedoms.
Those who grew up with an awareness of egregious human rights violations in the USSR seem more attuned to these signs of increasing political control over individuals in the West and are conscious of the difficulty of regaining these lost freedoms. But for the time being, I try not to lose sleep over these issues because I, like the rest of the Ukrainian diaspora, feel a more consuming dread. Will we wake to news of more civilian deaths, more non-strategic bombings, and more barbaric war crimes?