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  • Hey Matthew Morman

    How far are you from Ukraine? What is the general consensus of your friends and coworkers?

  • #2
    Things are more than a little tense around here, as in the past 72 hours, more than 100,000 Ukrainian refugees have sought shelter in Poland, and there are hundreds of thousands more on the way. Poland is a poor country, but it has gladly opened up their hearts and homes and both the government (which I am certainly no huge fan of in many cases) and generous private citizens alike are doing what they can to support the destitute Ukrainians fleeing Russian bombing.

    Everyone here is worried, Poland has a long, long history with Russia, none of it good, and seeing constant footage of innocent civilians, women and children, being killed just a few hundred miles away is extremely unsettling, to say the least. Ania is particularly emotional, (in her career as a police officer, working as a crime-scene investigator, 99.5% of her job is spent with the victims of crime, not actual criminals, she is someone who is naturally sensitive, tender, soft-hearted and empathetic, which are typically not great characteristics for someone in law enforcement. She would never be able to work as a traditional officer, being authoritarian and aggressive is just not in her nature) so this horrible situation has her extremely upset for the Ukrainian people as well as for Poland's national security. Making it worse, she just told me yesterday that as a police officer and a public servant, theoretically if Poland was attacked, she could be legally conscripted to serve in the military, although I suppose that is a "Worst Case" scenario, but I can't imagine being separated from her, it would be my worst nightmare.

    Personally, watching beautiful, peaceful, historic cities that I was happily walking (staggering?) around in just a couple of years back being attacked is surreal and horrific---Long story short, I have been to Ukraine several times in the past few years, in both Kyiv and Lviv, as when I first moved to Krakow in November 2015, as an American, to remain legally in the E.U. I had to physically leave every 180 days and go to a non-E.U. country and then I could legally come back. Of course my annual trips to Jazzfest in 2016 and 2017 counted towards "resetting the clock", but after meeting Ania I wasn't so anxious to be away from her for an extended time, and so I found out that I could fly to Ukraine, get a beautiful hotel for the night plus food and drink(!) and then come back to Krakow with a fresh 180 day residency permission stamp, all incredibly for around $50 USD, although now thankfully after my marriage to Ania I was granted official Polish residency and a work visa---so my heart is with the Ukrainian people, who while desperately poor by American standards (prices there are unbelievably low, a really nice dinner with a couple of beers and a generous tip is well under 10 dollars, a bottle of 10 year-old Ukrainian brandy is maybe 4 bucks) were warm, open and friendly. They deserve peace, freedom and safety.

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    • #3
      I should add that one of the most inspirational yet poignant things I have ever seen are the videos of tens of thousands of ordinary Ukrainian civilians, from teenagers to the elderly, the vast majority with no kind of military background or experience, many likely never having even held a gun before, regular people including cab drivers, accountants, welders amd waitresses, lawyers and liquor store cashiers, farmers and fashion designers, all lining up to take assault rifles with which to defend their families and their country with, knowing that many of them will be dead in days.

      Incredibly courageous people, a really emotional thing to see.

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      • #4
        Thanks Matthew

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        • #5
          Originally posted by MormonMatthew View Post
          I should add that one of the most inspirational yet poignant things I have ever seen are the videos of tens of thousands of ordinary Ukrainian civilians, from teenagers to the elderly, the vast majority with no kind of military background or experience, many likely never having even held a gun before, regular people including cab drivers, accountants, welders amd waitresses, lawyers and liquor store cashiers, farmers and fashion designers, all lining up to take assault rifles with which to defend their families and their country with, knowing that many of them will be dead in days.

          Incredibly courageous people, a really emotional thing to see.
          Well said M.M. Also really inspiring to see such bravery from ordinary folks all over Russia*, demonstrating openly against their lunatic leaders, knowing full well the potential consequences.

          Edit: And now Belarus too!
          Last edited by Canine Horror; 02-27-2022, 10:17 AM.

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          • #6
            Blessings to all who need it, especially our family in harm's way.

            Thanks for the update, Matthew. May Godess keep you and yours safe.

            I believe there's a saying: "Pray like it all depends on God, but work like everything depends on you."

            Stay strong friend, and be courageous.

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            • #7
              Thank you, Fred, I appreciate the kind words.

              Things are mostly calm here, but there is more than a whiff of fear in the air---Most ATM's in Krakow are empty, the gas station we use is out of fuel, but thankfully supermarkets and local stores are still seemingly well stocked, and people are mostly trying to go about life as normal, while at the same time getting ready for the unknown.

              Today I wanted to so something, tired of feeling helpless, so I tried to go donate blood, but when I got to the hospital, there was already a huge line of would-be volunteers in front of me, and the people at the registration tent said that all over Poland there are more donors than can be accommodated. At Ania's work, most of her fellow officers, all also crime scene technicians, decided to send their bulletproof vests to Ukrainian volunteer fighters, and Polish people all over the country are opening their homes to total strangers, scared, desperate people, many of whom can't even say "Thank You" to their hosts in Polish, but who are clearly grateful and overwhelmed for such kindness.

              Poland may not be perfect, and the ultra-conservative Polish government certainly isn't my cup of tea on most issues, but I am so impressed with and moved by the compassion and decency of the Polish people right now, (most of whom don't have a lot to spare themselves, certainly by American standards) selflessly doing all they can to reach out to others in need...

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              • #8
                Thank you so much for the updates MM. I've been thinking of you also and wondering what you were experiencing, so thank you for letting us know. It is so intensely fraught for us all to watch this aggression; and yes, inspiring too (as well as horrifying) to watch normal citizens have to (and want to) take up arms. As a Jewish person who had family in the resistance it hits very close to home. Keep us posted.

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                • #9
                  Thanks for the updates Matthew, and keep us posted. I heard on a newscast this morning that the citizens of Poland were meeting the Ukrainian refugees as they crossed the border and giving them food and water. Wonderful to hear that. Take care my friend.

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                  • #10
                    Take care Matthew!

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                    • #11
                      Good luck, Matthew!

                      I loved how Poland said refugees with pets would be welcomed.

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                      • #12
                        Your adopted country, Matthew, has set an example for the world. Stay safe and keep us informed.

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                        • #13
                          Matthew, my heart is with you, Ania, the people of Poland and of course the people of Ukraine. You are all courageous and inspiring. Godspeed.

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                          • #14
                            Best to you Matthew- thanks for the insights.

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                            • #15
                              Thanks everybody, your kind words and well wishes are much appreciated.

                              As for now, Ania and myself are fine, but things are certainly uncertain around Krakow, and I assume all of Poland, with some 700,000 (800,000?) refugees having crossed over the border in the past few days. It is a logistical nightmare, trying to feed and house that amount of people, and of course Poland is not a wealthy nation, so the government is clearly feeling the pressure, but I can't say strongly enough how incredibly proud I am of the Polish people, ordinary, private citizens filled with love and concern for their neighbors, in almost all cases literally total strangers, not even speaking a common language, who are stepping up, opening their homes or otherwise doing what they can to try to make this devastating and needless situation a little less horrible. I can't help but think back to the incredible, heartfelt response my fellow Americans answered with to the people of New Orleans after Katrina back in 2005, back when Americans came together to help one another regardless of petty differences, which sadly seems like 3 lifetimes ago...

                              Personally, I got sick of feeling helpless, and didn't know how I could best help via official volunteer channels, not being fluent in Polish (I can't tell you how much I hate having to keep writing that, but I am improving significantly all the time, with hard work and another 7 years here I should be on a 2nd grader's level) and not speaking any Ukrainian, so for the past few afternoons I have been going down to Krakow's main train station with a few cases of bottled water and a few boxes of chocolate bars to give to anyone arriving at the station. I know it is not much, literally about the least I could do, but the heartfelt, heartbreaking words of gratitude I receive in exchange, especially from the little children, (from what I can tell, 95% of the Ukrainian refugees are women and children, along with a small handful of elderly men) sometimes are almost too much to take. I really wish I could do more, but it makes me realize anew just how blessed I have been in this world...

                              Hope everyone out there is well, take care of each other,

                              MM
                              Last edited by MormonMatthew; 03-06-2022, 04:36 AM.

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