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Solidarity with Ukraine

Lev Dodin decries the war

Author: Lev Dodin

To say "shocked" is an understatement. It was impossible for me, a child of the second world war, even in my nightmares to imagine Russian missiles aimed at Ukrainian towns, villages, pushing Kyev residents into bomb shelters, forcing them to leave their country.

As children we played at defending Moscow, Stalingrad, Leningrad, Kyev. I can't even imagine that today Kyev is defending itself or surrendering to the Russian military. My brain refuses to see, hear or imagine such images.

The last two years should have reminded us, all of us who live in this world, how fragile and vulnerable the human life is, how the world crumbles when we lose our loved ones. It didn't. These days the world collapses for those whose loved ones die, the world collapses for those who kill other people's loved ones.

Mercy, compassion, empathy do not yield to the will of states and politicians. People cannot be dictated when and by whom to fear, when and by whom to pity. No state has so far been able to control people's feelings. The mission of art, of culture, has always been and is, especially after the horrors of the XXth century, to teach man to perceive another man's pain as his own, to understand that no idea, however great and wonderful, is worth a man's life. Now we can say that once again art and culture have failed in their mission.

I am 77 years old, it is not hard for me to imagine what will follow everywhere: the division into good and evil, the search for internal and external enemies, attempts to reshape the past, reconciliation with the present, rewriting the future. All this has already happened in the XXth century.

These days we have arrived in the 21st century. The 21st century has just begun. All of us together have allowed this century to begin. To begin as it began. And the new 21st century has turned out to be more terrible than the 20th century. What remains for us to do? Pray, repent, hope, beg, plead, protest, wash away our sins? Probably everything we haven't done before: love our neighbour, forgive others as we forgive ourselves, don't believe in Evil and don't take Evil for Good.

I am 77 years old, throughout my life I have lost many people I loved. Today, when over our heads, instead of the doves of peace, fly the missiles of hate and death, I can say only one thing: stop! The body of mankind is not made well by surgery. With any surgery, the blood of the one who operates also flows, which causes incurable septicaemia. Stop the surgery. Dress the wounds. Let's do the impossible: let's make the 21st century the way we dreamed it, not the way we're making it now. I'm doing the only thing I can do: I beg you, stop! Stop.

I beg you, Lev Dodin

Open text published in Russian originally on the 28th of February by TEATR magazine.