In: Ukraine

Put sunflower seeds in your pocket so they grow when you die | Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. 1889
February 26, 2022

Put sunflower seeds in your pocket so they grow when you die | Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. 1889

It is an understatement to say that many of us have Ukraine in our thoughts, right now. Historians have commented that coverage of many past conflicts have been defined by technological advancements (such as Vietnam with television, or the first Persian Gulf conflict, with it’s almost video game style graphics); the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine has already become one that is being seen – and perhaps shaped – by the internet, with streaming and social media.

A recent exchange between a brave Ukrainian woman and Russian soldiers brought to mind the work we’re featuring here (Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers).

From The Guardian: “A woman is being hailed on social media after she confronted a heavily armed Russian soldier and offered him sunflower seeds – so that flowers would grow if he died there on Ukraine’s soil. ‘You’re occupants, you’re fascists,’ she shouts, standing about a metre from the soldier.”

She goes on to command them to “take these seeds and put them in your pockets so at least sunflowers will grow when you all lie down here.”

You can see the video of that interaction here.

If it seems a bit crass to cite Van Gogh here, it’s good to remember his work has become a symbol of hope against adversity, of beauty in the midst of pain and suffering, and – possibly – that there is more good than bad in the world. Or, perhaps, it’s more about defiance in the face of difficult odds, and how history – against our trepidations – can be an appropriate judge of contemporary events.

There’s a number of ways you can support the people of Ukraine here, and it’s worth noting that Canada has the world’s third-largest Ukrainian population, so our neighbours and friends are surely watching this with hope and fear. ~ Bart Gazzola & Mark Walton

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