Have they all lost their minds?

War in Spring 2022 in Europe

Sure, Russia is the aggressor. You don’t invade a neighbouring country and call it special operation to help the Ukrainians overthrow their “nazi” government. Even if other states too have meddled in the internal affairs of other countries in the past this does not make such an invasion right.

Sure, controlling the media and punishing all dissident information about the special operation such as calling it invasion, war, etc. is against all the principles of free speech and the rule of law. However, the country now stands behind its leaders, or so it seems, most probably also because they do not know what is actually going on. 

The west, with every act is does, is helping Putin to stay in power, by providing the absolutely essential “outside enemy” against which the country needs to rally round its leaders to defend itself and the honour of the country. Putin’s regime was weakening. Now he has got what he needed: public opinion uniting against the outside enemy who “dares telling us what we should do or not do….

Sanctions do not end a war. They only strengthen the home front.

Weapons do not end a war. They only destroy goods and kill people and they make those who sell them very rich.

Where have the pacifists gone to? Where are those voices that remind us very loud and clearly that war is not an option because it only causes further losses?

Across the political spectrum what we hear now is a constant call to support Ukraine in their heroic and just defence of their freedom, their liberty, their life and their country. Give them weapons, more weapons, heavy weapons, …

The Ukrainian leadership keeps on calling out “Give us weapons!” “Get more involved in the war!” “We are Europe, we are defending you” “Do your duty to help us.”

Humanitarian help. Yes. Diplomatic help and efforts. Yes. Risking a third world war through our involvement. No!

And Europe and the United States increase the sanctions. And they plan to stop buying oil and gas from the aggressor.  Across the political spectrum people are ready to call for and support measures which would ruin our countries, endanger our wellbeing, and push us on a path towards generalised war.

Have they lost their minds? Has any inkling of critical and rational thinking been flushed down the drain? Have people forgotten that you need to think things through including all the probable and likely consequences of one’s decisions. 

You cannot call for more weapons, more outside involvement if you do not want to face the prospect of a third world war. Is that what you really want? Is that what you are ready to risk? Are you so much bored in your comfortable lives that you feel like acting out what you see in all the action films, horror stories, series of heroes and villains that you follow on Netflix, Amazon Prime or Apple TV, or any other streaming service? Just to get a kick out of it and make your life more exciting?

Increase the sanctions. Stop buying oil and gas from the aggressor. If you are a man….

Discourse like that will not help the Ukrainians who die, who flee the country, who fight… discourse like that will not stop the destruction caused by the Russian army and by the war in general. It will not help the Russian people and it will not stop Putin. 

We have to stand with Ukraine if we want to stand on the right side of history. Yes, Russia is the aggressor. But we need to stand with Ukraine without supporting the Ukrainian leadership in their drive for more war which will kill more people, destroy more homes, industry and infrastructure, … 

We need to stand with peace!

It is highly unlikely that an autocratic leader be brought down by sanctions and outside interference. At least not sustainably. Leaders can only be brought down from the inside. Sustainable change has to come from inside. Only Russians will get rid of Putin. And as long as we fuel their bond against the outside enemy there is little chance for that to happen. Unless we are prepared to wage destructive war against Russia which in turn would destroy us too. Like in the apocalyptic films that crowd the internet. 

Is this what you want?

Not me. 

I call for an immediate end of the war. No more delivery of weapons. Only humanitarian help. And diplomatic efforts to stop the war. And rebuild what has been destroyed.

A just war? Fighting for the honour of the country? Cui bono? Who benefits? 

What do you call a leader who engages his country and his citizens in a war they cannot win without outside help?  Without the world getting involved and risking a third world war Ukraine cannot win this war. They cannot win against Putin. I cannot call such a leader a hero. I cannot admire his strengths and strategy. It is a deadly strategy for all of us who do not want the war. 

What stops a hungry man? Food! What stops an angry man? Gentleness! What stops a greedy man? Give him what he wants and more. He will choke on it!

When I take a step back and look at all the things that are happening right now, when I listen to or read the statements and comments which are made day in and day out, I notice an almost total lack of consequential logical thinking in the majority of published discourse, be it in the traditional media or through social media. Feelings, convictions, opinions and beliefs abound. Presenting an argument, weighing the pros and cons, weighing the cost of the consequences of a particular decision and comparing it to the consequences of an alternative decision are almost totally absent.

I wonder if that is all education has brought us. We learn to read, write, we study mathematics, we have education for democracy, global education, peace education, education about the economy, geography, philosophy, religious education, etc. And what is the result? Independent, critical, logical thinking that builds on facts and their logical consequences seem to be absent. 

We need to change education, fundamentally. Starting with learning how to think for oneself, how to apply logic, how to think things through and realise that every act that I commit to has consequences for which I am responsible  and accountable. 

And that also means that I must not ask for things which – should they be granted – carry the risk of blowing up the planet on which I live. Asking them nevertheless may make you look a hero but in real life you are but a dangerous fool.

Education for critical thinking is needed more than ever. In times when Fake News – the new word for propaganda? – is all the news that we get. 


PS: I would be very interested in hearing your views in the above and engage in a discussion. 

PPS: The International Forum for the Future of Education puts its 2nd Education Forum under the title of Education for Critical Thinking. The Forum takes place from 8 – 10 July in Gamlitz, Austria. Perhaps this event can serve as a necessary platform to explore how we can change the course of things, and how education for critical thinking can become a central and more and more vital concern in our immediate future. For more information on that event  follow this link to the conference page.

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