We at The Tavistock Institute of Human Relations – like many other people and organisations around the world – are deeply disturbed and distressed by the fundamental violations to our values as expressed by the brutal invasion of Putin’s regime into Ukraine.
There are no values that I, and we, hold dearer than the right of humans to self-determination; freedom of thought, speech, movement; personal and inner authority – which when practised ethically – is all about respecting the Other and their equal rights for the same.
No one – person, regime, country or society – has the right to take away another country’s sovereignty or to invade and vandalise. And it is our obligation, as citizens of our society- to support the struggle for independence in Ukraine, to absorb the fallout of that struggle humanly and financially, to take in refugees and to do all we can so they can one day, hopefully soon, return to their homes and rebuild them.
At the same time, we at the TIHR wish to reach out to our colleagues and friends in Russia, who with each day passing are increasingly becoming hostages in their own country and who are quickly forced to regress – financially and socially – to times they wanted to forget.
I have no doubt that our Russian colleagues and friends do not support this invasion. Many Russians have ties with Ukrainians – through friendship, family and other ties – ties of LOVE. Not ties of war and splitting. This is not their war or their vote. They share our values, and we must hold them too in mind as victims of this aggression.
We do not know when we will be able to see any of our colleagues and friends again – in Russia or Ukraine – a painful and scary thought to us all, particularly those who still remember life under sovietism/communism and other dictatorships.
We must all stand together in face of the attack on our basic rights as humans to be free. We must also not ignore that even in this hour of plight in Ukraine – racist behaviour against black people remains evident on border crossings.
What is it in our human nature that drives us to exert power over the other time and again? How often in our history have we seen the destructive consequences of power accruing to individuals? Could this latest expression of aggression be a post-pandemic reaction to the uncertainty and precariousness of control?