Dear Boddah, am like Putin, but… My megalomaniac designs and thirst for dominance are often satisfied by acting them out within the relatively peaceful framework of a board game. Another difference is that I almost always win and never do anything rash when playing a strategic game. Silly comparison, I know.

This Thursday evening I exceptionally didn’t have to teach. One of the schools I work for is closed this week. So I invited one of my most intelligent students of Dutch to come over and play Civilization.

The whole day I had been listening to the German live news coverage of the war in Ukraine. Right before the arrival of my student I heard how a child had bled to death. And how children suffering from cancer had to hide in the basement of the hospital where the staff was scrambling to keep them alive amidst the bombardments. 

With pangs of guilt in my stomach I wondered if maybe, if I had changed my focus as a young man, I could have become a physician so I could go there now and help. Self-indulgent / self-torturing day dreaming… 

I don’t have to be a physician to help of course. 

I guess that given a week among Ukrainians I would probably come to understand Ukrainian. Maybe even speak it. It’s very similar to Russian. But how would that help exactly? I could maybe interpret here and there. Would be a very irresponsible move towards my son if I were to go there. 

The Swedish television asked me to go to ‘the border’, but they seemed to be such an unorganized bunch of sensation seeking amateurs who could give me ZERO practical info as to what they required of me. So I declined. I also caught myself thinking: if am going to work for journalists now I don’t want to go just to the border. I wanna go all the way to Kiev. Am weird in this. On the one hand I think that am doomed when it comes to ever publishing a book or getting some really cool job or even a good retirement, but on the other hand my whole being is fiercely convinced that I would survive pretty much any war zone. As though I have a very picky guardian angel. Help you publish a book? Nah. Help you dodge bullets? I got your back, dude! Let’s go! Davaj, vpirjod k pabjedje! (Come on, onwards to victory!) 

I won the game, but I suppose nobody’s surprised. It’s not like it’s a fair contest. I know that game through and through. Part of the thrill for me is to 1. see my student get better at the game 2. make sure my Slovak student communicates in perfect Dutch the entire time we are together. 

It got my mind off children dying and my own idling status here on the side lines. Bizarre, isn’t it? There we were, sending fictional armies across cardboard tiles and not too far away from us real armies are manoeuvring and real people are dying. 

I wish nations could fight out their wars via the board game Civilization. I’d be the world’s most sought after mercenary. There would be no real bloodshed. 

Since I condemn Putin’s aggression, but am also angered by the West’s nauseating hypocrisy I would play for Russia. If I win Ukraine has to promise to be as neutral as Switzerland and it has to kick out all Neo-nazis, rename the streets named after Ukrainians who fought for the SS and organize referenda for the rebel areas. It also has to counter rampant racism in Ukraine. Russia has to keep its army behind its own borders or am not playing. For winning Russia has to pay me all the money it will now have to pay to Russian families who will lose their son in Ukraine. So let’s – conservative estimate – say 10,000 times 7 million Ruble. I say Ruble, but I want that amount in euros. 

You see… More self-indulgent day dreaming. 

I can’t compose nor perform a song like John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’, but hey, I can day dream like a champ. Am an only child and I was always bored as fuck in school, so I got a lot of practice. 

I think I have hugged my son EVEN more affectionately than on other days. 

They’re killing people. Parents put their heart, sweat and soul in a child for years and years, nurturing this super vulnerable, innocent being as it gradually gains some independence and then a rocket hits, because adult maniacs on BOTH sides had too much testosterone and ego to sit down and reach a peaceful agreement. 

Why do I think that we are ALL somehow guilty for what is happening? Was there nothing we could have done systematically, regularly, devotedly to prevent this? You know, while we were shopping, climbing mountains, lying on beaches, sleeping in corporate meetings, watching Netflix, sitting in Church listening about how we have to love each other, watching sports, chasing a bit of money, wining and dining, playing board games… 

There must have been something… 

Do we choose to be powerless by devoting our time to other pursuits or are we condemned to be powerless no matter what? 

Maybe, just maybe, we Europeans are now getting some idea of what we have been causing for decades in other far away countries. 

Maybe we are really so stupid that we need a war to make us realize what really matters in life and how precious the life of our loved ones is. 

Parents everywhere, if your child is healthy and safely sleeping right now, count yourself infinitely rich. 

Whatever happened to all those hippies of the Summer Of Love, Boddah? 




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