So, the situation in the Ukraine demonstrates the terrible violence humans are willing to visit on people they identify as “Not Us”, as “Other”. It demonstrates how careful we must be not to foster antagonism and hatred. And this is for our own security, no matter how justified our grievances.
Because what threatens most to erode our safety is tribalism. Not just racial, but also factional: gangs and ethnic groups and nationalities; political affiliations; religious sects; antipathy and suspicion, divisions between groups within communities that have been told that that they are different from each other, that they are at odds: these are the drivers of actual violence, although it may take time to reach these levels of intensity.
I don’t mean the deeply inappropriate metaphoric use of the words “Violence” or “trauma”, as used by social justice activists, to signify not being treated with as much respect as they think they deserve. I mean children chased down alleys, cornered in stairwells; Emmett Till and Trayvon Martin, Stephen Lawrence and George Floyd, Srebrenica, the Holocaust: real wounding, skull cracking, murderous violence: knives in the dark; red, sticky blood on the tarmac; gunshots at night outside your barricaded door; artillery and bombs aimed deliberately at occupied apartment blocks; mass executions; mass graves.
The seeds of the Rwandan genocide were sown when the Belgian colonial administrators started to make an artificial distinction between Tutsis and Hutus, and to privilege the former, supposing them to be lighter skinned and more European.
Vladimir Putin has, for years, fostered such a mindset in the Russian people, and it is this that allows him to enjoy a reported 80% approval rating in Russia for his butchery, telling his people that the West is against them, that their reports of atrocities are fake, that he is protecting Donbas Russians from Ukrainian Nazis.