It does not take a pandemic to show us that we all live in the same world.
Here, in New South Wales where we live, sunflowers grow in paddocks and on roadsides. Some of them are wild, ragged things that turn their faces to the sun heedless of the traffic, the trucks, the cars full of cares that go past. These are things that will go on without us, pandemic or no pandemic.
On a road in the Ukraine capital of Kyiv, a woman walks up to a Russian soldier. He is an upright symbol of fear and of displacement. Still, she walks up to him. In her hands are the seeds of sunflowers. The Ukraine, like our own home, is sunflower country. The sunflower is their national flower. Take these, she tells the soldier, so that when you die here, they will grow.
It is a curse. It is a curse for him and a promise for her country. Because all of us, from this strangely wonderful and disturbing action, can see in our minds those flowers growing, gaining strength, holding their faces to the sun. This wild flower conquering the war.
How can we still be in a place where one country wants to own another? Where there is no regard for the people, the families, the careers, the loving moments of everyday? Were one country’s leaders feel they are entitled to the geographic land on which someone else’s sunflowers grow?
It would be nice to think we had learnt from all the colonisation and the wars that have gone before, from the natural disasters and the pandemics, that there is enough catastrophe out there without planning it for each other?
This move against the Ukraine seems so primitive, so wrongly primal. It makes you pause in hanging out the washing, or packing the school lunches, to think that many people in the Ukraine are losing their everyday. It is not right. From one sunflower region to another, our human hearts are with you, Ukraine. May you and your sunflowers grow on.
Marie Low is a Freelance journalist based in Gunnedah.