War Diaries, February 15, 2023

February 15, 2023

Day 357


Since the last diary entry, there have been some developments that could be a game changer for The Cross Border House beyond July 1st.


While nothing is confirmed, there are some emerging prospects that look encouraging.


The Cross Border House applied for a sizable EU grant which would provide a percentage of our annual financial needs over the next two years, putting us in a good position to actively fundraise for the rest.


The grant proposal will be assessed on a point criteria system, of which we believe we qualify in each category. This does not mean we will be awarded the grant; we simply feel we have a competitive edge. We will know by mid-March if we make the first pass.


I’m going back to my hometown in Houston, Texas, to put together a fundraiser with my family and some old friends who want to help me host an event highlighting the work of the foundation.


Another long-time friend of mine has made contact with all the high-profile media outlets in Houston and some have expressed the request for coverage. The idea is to overlap schedules so The Cross Border House can host a fundraising event with guaranteed media coverage. (As I prepare to post this diary, KHOU-TV has contacted me for an interview.


Lastly, there is a former neighbor of mine who has offered to help us pitch our story to an international media giant, which, if successful, would generate another source of funds. 


Our combined efforts have viable potential, enough to secure the core support we need to continue the project for another year. But we will not know for another two months. By mid-April we should know one way or another.


Marina, Stepan’s mother and a Ukrainian soldier, came to our room to say goodbye today. She’s returning to the front. Nothing ever prepares one to hear the stories firsthand. She said she spends many nights lying awake asking herself how is it that ordinary human beings can be so cruel. She was telling us about what’s happening at the border of occupied Ukraine. It sounded like a scene out of Schindler’s List. She watched a group of Ukrainian POW’s reduced to emaciation. They were clearly starved. Then she watched the Russians shoot them all. She had also seen people in the town go out on errands and get shot at random if they encountered a soldier.


I have to at least try. I can’t just say, “Oh well, not my war.” I can’t. So I will fight, tooth and nail, to improve our situation so that we can meet the rent required and carry on providing a safe place for the women and children here to ultimately be able to care for themselves. 


According to Hannah Arendt, it’s not so much about what one thinks but about what they don’t think; in other words, the absence of thought which leads to what she called the “banality of evil.” 


How could such a nondescript, insipid character like Adolf Eichmann, a bureaucrat, dull as ditchwater, rise to such power and commit the unspeakable crimes he did? Was it only because he wanted to acquire this level of status that he was able to justify the murder of millions of Jews without remorse? Or did he consciously, systematically set out to do this? He did keep saying at his trial that he was only following orders and would do it again if commanded. I don’t know how he was able to do this, but what I do know is that his ability to discern what is moral and ethical against what is not was clearly within the realm of what Arendt would describe as the absence of thought. 


One must draw a line in the sand and stand up in the face of adversity, ridicule, and any other dismissive action and make clear what is wrong. This war is wrong, and the women and the children forced into migration are vulnerable so long as they are without the full support they need. One cannot rationalize it for another person’s convenience. If one cannot plainly, in each and every situation, stand by what is right, support a higher moral and ethical standard, then we all stand to succumb to the banality of evil. 


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