Living in Moscow at this time of political uncertainty is a dream come true for a political science student. A very, very bad dream – but a dream nonetheless. The 2014 Moscow anti-war protest against violence in Ukraine has taught me more about it than I thought it would.
Since I was a little girl, I’ve always loved listening to older people’s stories of war. Most of my friends found them boring, but I would bristle with excitement and nod eagerly as they spoke of insane atrocities, but also of human kindness in times of crisis. But what struck me the most was the nonchalance with which most of them approached events of cataclysmic proportions – the Czechoslovak anti-communist revolution of 1989 or the fall of the Berlin Wall the very same year.
“Were you there? What were you doing that day?” I would ask. Some of them said it was a day like any other. No, they were not at the protest. Some couldn’t even remember where they were or what they were doing! How was this possible, I wondered.
And then I looked around myself and I finally realised why. We are on the brink of war in Crimea. There are political protests in every corner of our little blue planet – from Algeria to Venezuela, people are taking to the streets and expressing their outrage at the way in which they are being treated by their governments. And here I am, sitting at my desk in sweatpants and sipping hot tea. Here I am, planning my trip to Morocco. Here I am, painting my nails red. Meanwhile, other people are painting their nails red as well – red with blood. They are suffering in ways many of us have never suffered – and the world continues turning. Turning its back.
Every day, history is being made around us, but most of us do not notice. It is easy to close your eyes and go on with your day. When my grandchildren ask me where I was when war was breaking out in Crimea, I know exactly what I will tell them – I was in the streets of Moscow, trying to stop it.