There is the worry, too, that somehow we will become desensitised. Dead Syrians, dead Afghans, dead Iraqis. We saw those pictures. We saw the incredible cities of Syria reduced to grey rubble. We saw the effects of chemical weapons. We saw what Putin did and what Assad continues to do, and we stepped away.
The further away from home a massacre occurs, the more likely we are to see the horror. If these atrocities were happening in our towns, I doubt we would because we would be trying to protect the feelings of the relatives.
I am not assigning blame here, I am asking myself what is permissible. Do I want ordinary Russians to see what is being done in their name? Most definitely, as does Volodymyr Zelensky. He is extraordinarily skilled at honing his oratory to specific audiences. He switches often between Ukrainian and Russian.
In Russian, he said: “I want every mother of every Russian soldier to see the bodies of those who have been killed in Bucha, in Irpin, in Hostomel. What did they do? Why were they murdered?
“How could women be raped and murdered in front of their children? Their bodies tortured even after their deaths?”
The Ukrainian president asks Russian mothers: “Why did tanks crush the corpses of people? What did the Ukrainian city of Bucha do to your Russia? How did this become possible? Russian mothers, even if you raised looters, how did they also become butchers? You couldn’t not have known what was inside your children.”
Addressing the Grammy Awards on Sunday, he was pitch-perfect asking what is “the opposite of music”? The silence of death and ruined cities, was his answer. This combination of words of images is extremely powerful.