On March 2, a week after Russia invaded Ukraine, University of New Mexico visiting playwright professor Erik Ehn and his students organized a silent witness for peace at the University of New Mexico Duck Pond.
“Whether people can stay for five minutes or for the full hour, I hope that it's something that just inspires people to assess themselves and be mindful of the people around them and to carry that with them outside of the hour and to check in with each other and to send peace always,” student Monét Taylor said.
While the silent witness did not have a large turnout, it was a somber moment of time and silence for those in Ukraine. On Feb. 24, the swirling of rumors of Russia's potential invading of Ukraine came to a head, and Russia launched a military attack against Ukraine with Putin’s supposed intent of the “demilitarization” and “denazification” of Ukraine, according to the Washington Post.
“While the war in Ukraine is a … specific meditative point of focus, we want to remember that there are wars going on all over the place,” Ehn said. “There are scores of wars going on around the world today, and this witness will be provoked by Ukraine but in solidarity with those who suffer from those other experiences.”
At the gathering, Ehn wanted people to focus on the silence and what can be discovered in it more than anything else.
“(The witness is) really focused on silence. It's the raw availability of the spirit that we're trusting. Fundraising needs to happen. As I was saying before, education needs to happen,” Ehn said. “But organizing and motivating all of those things may be what we discover in silence.”
Taylor commented on work other organizations are doing, such as fundraisers and donation accumulations.
“I know that there's a lot of fundraising going on, and I know that there's a lot of donation pools that are being accumulated,” Taylor said. “I would definitely encourage students individually and student organizations to look into those. I also just think the essence of spreading awareness and being aware is a great first step.”
Elizabeth Secor is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @esecor2003