A Modern Day World War: front row seats

If you or anyone you know is struggling with the current global security crisis, speak to a close friend, family member or healthcare professional. You are not alone, there is help available.

The word war has a distinct visual description for most people. That visual is made up from clips of black and white footage from WW 2 and the rare photos that still exist from WW 1, the information we have been handed through learning about what happens on a battlefield and the more recent footage of conflict we have witnessed from places like Afghanistan and Iraq. So, that means we know what we are in for if Russia invades Ukraine – which is looking very likely as tensions continue to rise rapidly along the Ukrainian boarder – right?

The difference between what we are seeing in Europe and what we have watched unfold over the last 20 years in Afghanistan is that the Afghanistan war was about revenge and damage control. It wasn’t the same kind of situation we are seeing in Europe today because in the current situation, Russia wants to invade Ukraine and has very openly amassed 180,000 Russian Military personnel on the Ukrainian boarder in preparation. This is a very serious and very real situation, although it may seem too fanatical to be true.

Ukraine has the support of NATO, which includes allies like the UK and the US, along with the support most of the world. China, Armenia and Belarus are some of the countries which are seen to be in support of the Russian invasion.

So, what would a world war look like in 2022? We have plenty of knowledge of how it usually plays out but with technology at our fingertips, we may see more than we bargained for. The people of Russia and Ukraine are not any different from people in any other part of the world – which means they, too, all have a mobile phone close by. Instead of waiting for injured soldiers to begin returning home and the scarce photograph from a lone photographer risking his life in the name of the truth, we may be subject to first hand and unedited footage from ground zero and we might not get a choice whether we see it or not.

With platforms like TikTok and Snapchat, a 5 second video of an explosion or a snap of an innocent life being taken by a soldier with a rifle is a very real reality and something we should all prepare for. Not only will these images be out there for us to see, our children are at an even higher risk of being exposed to violent and graphic material coming out of Ukraine. I will be limiting my daughter (7) with her iPad use and she will no longer be allowed to roam freely on YouTube and YouTube kids… I haven’t explained to her why but when the time comes I think honesty is the best policy in situations where you have very little control of what your kids are exposed to. As adults, the prospect of war is tough enough to grasp without our children having to go to bed with the images of it in their mind.

War is serious and although it may sound like it, this conflict isn’t a movie plot. Vladimir Putin seems to have lost his mind but that will come at the cost of lives. Men, women, children… innocent lives. In a world where our children grow up faster than they should, do we really want them witnessing such pain and horror on such a huge scale, knowing full well it isn’t a movie and it’s happening right now?

Just like the first Covid lockdown in Melbourne in 2020, the sound of a world war may at first bring on what seems like excitement in a child but that excitement will be made up of many emotions like fear, confusion and helplessness. Kids don’t see the bigger picture, they see what’s in front of them. When I asked my 7 year old daughter what was looked like, she responded by saying “it’s black and white and people are lying all over an over dead or fighting…” I liked that answer. She very clearly described every photo of a battlefield I have ever seen. The generic answer.

The real question we need to be asking ourselves, as parents, how do we make sure that answer doesn’t become a detailed and traumatic one?

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