May Peace Prevail

How do we make sense of what is happening in the world right now? It’s hard to fathom. Yet, on the opposite side people are rising up all around the world standing for what matters most. 

Both sets of my great grandparents are from Ukraine – Kyiv and Odessa. It’s been heavy to watch the news to see what is taking place in the city of sunflowers. 

On my mom’s side, my Nanny and Papa Jack immigrated here when they were 17 and 18 years old with only a few dollars in their pockets. They left their family for a better life and continued to send money back home to bring their family to the United States. They built their lives from virtually nothing and created happiness and a family. I am the oldest of all of their great grandchildren as I was ten years old when my Nanny passed away. To this day, I can picture myself at her kitchen table while she baked her half moon cookies with poppy seeds on them and ground chopped liver. My sisters and I would go into her backyard and pick plums from her tree and blackberries from the bush. Everything seemed plentiful. My Papa Jack started a popular hardware store on 1st Avenue and had a thriving business. 

On my dad’s side, my Great Grandpa Paul (who I was named after) and my Great Grandma Molly started the music hall on 10th Avenue downtown called The Portland Music Hall or some people referred to it as the Schneiderman Music Hall. Popular music acts like the Mills Brothers and Bessie Smith would perform there. It was a family affair as my Grandpa (my dad’s father) was the bouncer. My great grandparents were forward thinking as they brought drag queen acts to Portland from San Francisco. 

I have been thinking so much about both sides of my family and what life would have been growing up in Eastern Europe. It’s hard to imagine but to think what a privilege it is to be here in the United States and have the kind of freedom we have to be whoever we want to be and to be sovereign. 

Everyone should have that freedom. No one should be denied sovereignty. 

Although this crisis is looming on many levels, I have been extremely moved by how people and countries and states are rising up to show their support for the Ukrainian people. 

Paris turned the Eiffel Tower into blue and yellow colors to show their support. Thousands of people protest in Berlin. Times Square in New York rolled out a red carpet that looked like Ukraine’s flag. Oslo illuminated Ukraine’s flag on the side of their Town hall. A stadium in Munich turned into the colors of blue and yellow. Prague, Lisbon, Madrid, London, Amsterdam all rallied in support of Ukraine. The most powerful of them all was the Statue of Liberty draped in blue and yellow in Colmar, France. 

May peace be bestowed upon all involved and may justice prevail. 

Lisa Schneiderman is a UO member who helps people raise awareness for causes and positive messages that uplift humanity to a higher state of being.

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