An allegory for those who believe arming Ukraine is immoral.
A few days ago I was sitting at home breathing a sigh of relief that it looked like our village had put Covid behind us when I saw something alarming on our neighbourhood watch RING video security system. There was a gang of men surrounding our next-door neighbour’s house.
Then the phone rang. It was my neighbour Bob. “High Tom, you might have noticed we have a problem” he said. “A heavily armed group of thugs from the village down the road have surrounded us and demanded we hand over our home to them. They say they used to own the home and now want it back! We aren't prepared to just lay down and walk all over us. We wont give up without a fight but we are short on guns and ammo, so would you mind sending some over?”
It occurred to me that this threat had been with us for a while, and that maybe we had been short sighted in not building better relations with the village these guys came from. Indeed, we may have miscalculated and been over aggressive in expanding our own village boundary.
Still, when a neighbour is under attack, don’t we have a moral duty to help out?
“Sure Bob” I replied. “Of course we’ll do what we can, but are you sure fighting back is a smart idea? They have more men who are better trained. Even if we send you some weapons, the strong likelihood is you’re still going to get your ass whipped and maybe even all get killed in the process. Maybe you’d be better off capitulating and trying to work out a settlement? You know, maybe give them the bottom part of your garden that leads down to the river?”
Bob replied, quickly and assertively. “Tom, I appreciate your concern for our welfare, but I’m buggered if we are going to let these violent thugs take everything we have built up over the last decade. My home is my castle. Having fought so hard to get away from the shits down the road, we aren’t going to surrender.”
Bob was resolute and firm. “Alright Bob, we’re on it” I replied.
“Thanks Tom. While you’re at it, could you also put some economic pressure on the village these thugs have come from. Make sure that they struggle to finance and feed these bandits. It might not make much of a difference in the long run, but it will make it harder for them. Who knows, maybe the rest of their village will have second thoughts about their aggression? We know their Mayor isn’t the most popular guy, and maybe they’ll turn on him.”
That didn’t seem an unreasonable request. It would mean a little hardship for us, but nothing we can’t handle. After all, a neighbour in need is a Neigbour indeed!
As Bob hung up, he left me with some parting words. “Every little bit of help and hope helps Tom. We are just not willing to roll over and let these bastards win. Frankly we’d rather die defending our home and our honor.”
It was hard to argue with that, although I was sure some of others in our neighbourhood watch group would still play armchair quarterback. Hindsight is a wonderful luxury to have, but Bob and his family were under attack and had asked for our help. They knew the risk and wanted to take it. So we started getting some arms over the fence and had everyone else in our group boycott the village down the road.
As we sit here today there doesn’t seem to be any sign of the attackers retreating. Indeed, the signs are ominous. Yet Bob’s family are defending their home valiantly. Despite the minority of naysayers, we stand ready to do what we can, short of actually putting our own families in harm’s way.
What has surprised me most are the keyboard warriors who want to undermine not just our efforts to help, but are dismissive of the spirit and will of Bob and his family. Not to mention that their willingness to subjugate Bob’s home while giving the thugs a propaganda boost.
Apart from rehashing all the mistakes that we made in the build up to this attack on our neighbour, they are also questioning why, if we’re helping our immediate neighbour, aren’t we also being equally supportive and magnanimous to people under attack on the other side of the world. Personally I don’t think ‘whataboutism’ is appropriate when your next-door neighbour is under attack.
There will be a time and a place for such Monday morning analysis. Now is not that time.
I have no idea how this will play out and I fear that Bob and his family will not prevail. Or maybe, just maybe, their stubborn refusal to capitulate may just give the thugs and their Mayor second thoughts and bring them to a ceasefire and then a negotiated settlement.
However, it was their decision to defend their home with everything they have. Who are we to second guess that decision? Especially as we too have been so vocal in establishing our right to self-determination during the pandemic and taking back our sovereignty during the Brexit row.
Whatever happens, we will know that we didn’t just look the other way during Bob’s time of need. Nor did we give the thugs from the village down the road and their despotic Mayor any succor, nor excuse their violent aggression.
Once this is over perhaps we can come up with a better strategy for dealing with the neighbouring village.
We’ll also still be standing ready to help when the time comes to help Bob and his family rebuild their home.
And that time will come.