Ukraine war puts spotlight on our political system, security

Safe: the ability to feel secure and free from harm.

I have spent some time thinking about this concept lately, beginning with the ghastly scenes of war in Ukraine. Innocent civilians, who have had little say directly in political actions, have been forced to flee their homes, grabbing a few meagre possessions in an overnight bag. What would you pack and how would you cope with the overriding fear of impending death?

Their homes have been bombed, or they have left them behind, wondering if there will be anything left when, and if, they return. As I come home to my house and belongings, and I look around, I too wonder what I would grab and what I would mourn of the items I had to leave behind.

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Would I grab the photos of the children? The meagre bits of jewellery I have accumulated and could maybe use to sell for some future need? My passport and documents that prove who I am? Would it be food and water stuffed into that overnight bag and a few toiletries and medicines? The choices become limited and the values we have, focus down onto mere survival.

Not all of us are faced with being in a war zone, but all of us want to feel safe in our day-to-day lives. Mostly we are, as we dash round in our cars, as we run across the road, sometimes against the lights and have good food to eat and clean water to drink.

But things can change in an instant. The other morning, I had an eye incident that left me calling an ambulance and rushing to the nearest hospital. As I lay on the ambulance trolley, waiting to be assessed, in many ways I lost my identity and became like a child handing my wellbeing to other adults.

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I have to confess to being terrified but once I entered the hospital system, I felt a sense of calmness. I gave myself up to the myriad nurses and doctors who came to give me aid. Mind you, I trusted them and trusted that they were extremely capable and competent professionals. In the time I lay there as a patient, the word safe came to mind. I knew I was safe. I knew I would be looked after by a world-class hospital and medical system that I think I had taken for granted.

I realised how lucky we are, not just with a world-class health system, but with our political system that allows for freedom and security, a system that tries to balance ideologies and values without resorting to violence, military regimes or dictatorships. For the moment, we are safe.

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Written by Dianne Motton