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  • Amina Aitsi-Selmi

What does war look like?

Like a group of teenage kids going to school hoping not to be blown up is how I remember it.

This was Algeria in 1993. The Civil War was well underway. But we tried to live normally. A year later, my parents decided to leave, informing only close family.

I’ve noticed a range of feelings in response to the war in Ukraine including:

- Numbness: perhaps a part of me that doesn’t want to remember the pain of war

- Consternation: wars are an unfortunate regular feature of humanity, what makes this one different?...

- Empathy: for the ordinary people whose lives are upturned not knowing what awaits

It’s been very strange this week and I’ve burst into tears a few times without knowing why (and I don’t require myself to know. There are enough reasons).

But 3 things seem clear to me:

1) Once a war has started, it’s too late

2) Now is the time to start preventing the next war

3) Prevention is more than just politics and economics, it’s also caring for our social fabric through our relationships with others and ourselves to minimise emotional and psychological violence

I’ve heard a lot of people say they feel helpless, and that’s understandable if you take in the scale of human suffering both now and historically. Why do humans do this to each other?

And of course, we have to address the emergencies and deal with the current crises.

But I also believe that the best thing we can do is in learning the deeper lessons and preventing the next war by pacifying the daily wars – emotional and psychological – that we have with each other and with ourselves. It may take longer and require courage but it is the long term solution and you can start immediately.

p.s. I’ll be holding a free workshop on how to harness ‘dark’ emotions of grief, anger and sadness to make a positive difference on the 24th. Join me. Registration here:

p.p.s If you're wondering why there are only 4 girls in the class, it's because it's the maths baccalaureate class...:

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