The martial art of rationality provides for seeing what the science of rationality means for ourselves, for our daily inner life. If so, I wonder whether war complicates exercising the muscles of sound reasoning or alters what rationality means for me. Along with the systematic fallibility of the mind, daily missile attacks (there are air raid sirens almost every day, though the frequency depends on each region) and psychological operations become an everyday thing. In this essay, I want to convey my experience of what hardships I (along with other Ukrainians) have met in exercising rationality during the full-scale phase of the Russian-Ukrainian war; I do not aim to convince you of anything but explain what is on my mind now. I would appreciate your reflections on it.

  Go to shelter vs It is business as usual as the air raid siren starts to howl

  As I am writing this essay, a Russian missile (or drone; probably several of them) is approaching its target in the region where I live or in the neighboring one. When I am in the flow of studying, working, or engaged with anything else, the necessity to disrupt this state of mind sets my nerves on edge (it occurs 4-5 times a day on average; if you are eager to know the statistics of air raid sirens in Ukraine, you can find it out here). I can risk my life and health ignoring the siren or go to a nearest shelter once my app gives a howling signal and stay there for probably more than one hour. My acquaintances and I predominantly pay no attention to it (but bear in mind) unless they happen to hear warning sounds or explosions. Certainly, I should mention that we can afford to ignore sirens thanks to the efficacy of the Ukrainian Air Defence Forces. But at the same time we do not know, may be inattentive enough, or dream dreams in our beds in the middle of night to lose track of when the Russians launch a specific missile that will eventually hit a residential house, a shopping center, or any other public space facility. And then life is wasted, no repetition.

 Escape from the war to embrace uncertainty Vs. Stay home to embrace the gifts of war

  One day a few months of full-scale invasion later, my mom said, “Be ready. We may go west if Russians reach too close.” We sat on the suitcases because we were aware of what happened when Russians took (even temporary) control of any Ukrainian settlement.

  Anyway, I had to embrace uncertainty but there is a feeling that if I experience it within the walls of my home, it seems less uncertain. What is more, there were thousands of other refugees (besides my mother and me) from more damaged locations seeking asylum in western Ukrainian cities.

  Since the frontline has stabilized, I cannot be sure I will be safe and sound because, first I have mentioned the situation with air raid sirens. In addition, Russia exploits its favorite intimidation to launch a nuclear bomb. At first, I could not help but pay attention because I did not believe it would invade. These rumors about something terrible is about to happen in a few days, a week, or a month exhaust my ability to predict. After a while, I came to understand that they were a red herring or provoking actions, for example, when Russians threatened to destroy Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station which would cause the second Chornobyl. Actual disasters came when I did not expect them. First blackouts, the disruption of the Kakhovka dam, and missile arrivals causing huge destruction came predominantly as a surprise.

  Treatment of POWs and attitude toward civilians

  Human life becomes significantly devalued during times of war. One can see who one's enemy is by how one treats the disarmed — captives and civilians.

  Report on the Human Rights Situation in Ukraine (1 December 2023 — 29 February 2024) shows that the Russian side takes advantage of Ukrainian POWs' defencelessness, beating them, giving them electric shocks, threatening execution, and applying positional torture to name but a few. Most of these tortures are of body nature — from lack of hygiene items in places of internment, limited access to medical assistance, and food of poor quality to forcing Ukrainian POWs to walk naked and barefoot outside in the winter period. The threats of executions are not groundless since there were many thundered incidents of Ukrainian POWs cruelly executed by Russian soldiers. Prime examples are Oleksandr Matsievskyi, a Ukrainian soldier, being shot by a Russian serviceman for saying ‘Glory to Ukraine!’; Serhii Potoki, another Ukrainian captive, was cold-bloodedly beheaded by a Russian serviceman (the 1 February — 31 July 2023 Report says that “OHCHR has reasonable grounds to believe that both videos, which were likely recorded before the reporting period, are authentic”); 6 wounded Ukrainian servicemen being killed by Russian troops in Avdiivka after promising to evacuate them.

  Speaking of revenge for killed civilians, there are records of mistreatment of captured Russian soldiers taken by Human Rights Watch and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights as well. One prominent case is the execution of a Russian captive by combatants from the Georgian Legion. Its commander Mamuka Mamulashvili justified no quarter, a command to take no prisoners, for Russian soldiers as a response to the Bucha massacre. Another reason may be retribution for the 2008 Russian invasion of Georgia. OHCHR recognizes, though, in its last report that Ukrainian-side treatment of Russian POWs has improved.

  As Joane Mariner, Director of Amnesty International’s Crisis Response Programme said, “As the conflict continues, it is essential that all parties to the conflict fully respect the rights of prisoners of war.” Well, Russia loudly laughs at the gentle requests of both Mrs. Mariner and the UN by keeping to shell civilian cities and towns. The point is that Russia takes care of neither the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights nor the Geneva Conventions nor its people because it cannot be held accountable as opposed to the Ukrainian side.

  Language Trauma

  This issue is deeply rooted in history and mostly concerns a feeling of safety rather than actual dangers.

  Some context to remember: The tradition of banning the Ukrainian language started with the Russian Empire issuing the 1863 Valuev Circular. This decree placed limits on Ukrainian-language popular publications — including textbooks and religious texts — by motivating that “the dialect used by the common people in Ukraine was nothing but [the] Russian language that had been distorted by Polish influence.” Then the 1876 Ems Ukase followed, prohibiting the printing in the Ukrainian language of any original works or translations. The Ukrainian language was marked as a Little Russian language or dialect; its existence was not recognized. The Soviet authorities took the course of marginalizing it (or executing its poets, writers, and playwrights). The history of Ukrainian literature witnessed the Executed Renaissance, the generation of Ukrainian-language creators being arrested en masse, deported to the Gulag, imprisoned, or executed. The policy of Russification boasts of why the Russian language has been considered superior and Ukrainian was the language of peasants until Ukraine gained its independence and throughout a few decades after.

  What we have now is the low tolerance of Ukrainian-speaking Ukrainians toward Russian-speaking Ukrainians, let alone Russians themselves. Many conflicts erupted based on communication language. The uniting nod of these conflicts is excessive emotionality and lack of sense of security. If one is declared war, murdered and one knows native speakers of the enemy’s language suppressed one's mother tongue, one will loathe both the enemy language itself and its speakers.

  You can compare what I have described to the hatred of the German language during and some period after WWII. As Language and Trauma: An Introduction article says,

[...] the French writer Arthur Goldschmidt (2005), who as a child was forced to leave Nazi Germany, describes German as a language that in his linguistic memory is indelibly marked by feelings of extreme distress and adds that even its vocal pitch is likely to evoke the life-threatening fear he had experienced. A particular accent or intonation, the pitch of a voice, or the sound of a language can trigger intrusions and flashbacks by which the traumatic event is relived.

  Sacrifice beliefs about humanism and well-being vs. Letting the enemy take away my agency

  One Ukrainian proverb says, “A good Russian is a dead one.” I do hope you see why it is relevant if you have read this far. The hordes of Russian soldiers are pushing in on my country, destroying everything on their way. They can afford to appropriate Ukrainian people's property, take away lives, crucify the disarmed, and steal other people's choice to choose in what country they want to live. The primary goal of my enemy is to make me Russian or exterminate. As a Russian commander put it, “There will be either Russian land or a scorched desert,” threatening to blow up the Zaporizhzhia NPS.

  Here, in the LW community, politics is taken for a mind-killer. As Mr Yudkowsky writes, “Being on the right side of the argument could let you kill your hated rival!” Unfortunately, no way is it an argument thing. As I see the consequences of Russians shelling, them killing non-combatants (including children), terrorizing my home city with air raids and missile attacks round the clock, and nullifying my welfare and wellness, I do desire to see the Russians suffer and perish. If I do not kill a Russian serviceman first, he will kill me instead. (And this horrifies me to the extent that I can barely put it into words because it is not the life I would like to live.)

  That is what I have inferred from my observations. Thanks for reading.

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Thank you sharing.