One hopeful phenomenon I’ve seen during the Russian Invasion has been the number of courageous Ukrainians who have stood up to the invading Russian army. Many of the short video clips show extraordinary citizens *talking back. They scold soldiers directly to their faces—something these men may not be accustomed to.
What also seems true: Some of these folks are older women whose authority comes from their role in society—e.g., grandmothers who know the power of their experiences. In the face of possible harm—being arrested or executed for their impunity—these babushkas stand up to the invaders. They are fighting the tyranny of an authoritarian Russian leader. One person at a time, they refuse to cede authority to this despot.
Seeing these images, it occurred to me that authoritarians in our own communities may also be set back on their heels by the courageous truth-telling of their elders. Old folks who speak up, who talk back. Women and men who have earned legitimate authority because they have lived through adversity. Who show the power of righteous behavior by dressing down cowardly leaders who are bent on evil.
There’s something prophetic in these actions, in these individuals. “Thus saith the Lord,” thundered the Old Testament prophets, and leaders listened. Fiercely determined, today’s truth-tellers also push past cliches and niceties to remind autocrats what’s most important: Justice, morality, truth. God’s will.
I don’t know how this might work where you live, but I’m guessing that you might just be that same kind of older adult: Someone who knows what’s righteous and is not afraid to call out despots of any kind or size. We are, all of us, involved in the fight against tyrants, wherever they arise.
May we learn from our Ukrainian sisters!
*To be direct: this isn’t about being part of an angry mob at a school board meeting. Or heckling politicians from a safe distance. That hardly feels persuasive. Private, personal reprimands address a tyrant of any size in a way that cannot be ignored.