We had one of those community planning days in the village last weekend. It was great.
Half the village turned up to place their stickers next to the things they wanted most – better paths, play park improvements, speed bumps, that kind of stuff.
There was coffee and cake. The hall was heaving all afternoon. The pub was buzzing that night. You could have powered the street lamps on the positivity.
For the first time in more than two years, life felt normal. Like maybe we were putting Covid behind us and could finally start coming together to enjoy ordinary things.
I keep thinking about that when I see the pictures from Ukraine.
It’s the kids in temporary shelters clutching saucer-eyed cats. Women in wheelchairs making Molotov cocktails.
Men kissing their families goodbye at the Polish border, before going back to fight for their lives.
Last week they were bankers, farmers, office workers. Now they’re learning how to fire guns and tie tourniquets so they can defend their country from invasion by a nuclear-armed superpower.
Those families lived through the same two years as we did. But nothing about their new reality is normal.
I’m in awe of their courage and I don’t know where their strength is coming from.
Ukraine feels like a crisis too far
The weight of the news from Ukraine feels like almost too much to bear right now.
I’m knackered from Covid. I’m sure you’re the same.
And now there’s a cost of living crisis bearing down on us.
Lord knows when we’re supposed to find the time to worry about the climate emergency.
Watching fellow humans go through unimaginable man-made terror ought to be a catastrophe too far.
Who would blame us if we looked away?
Maybe that’s what Putin was counting on when he launched his invasion last Thursday.
But that’s not what’s been happening.
Tayside and Fife delivering love and support to Ukraine
Across Tayside and Fife, folk went out of their way to support the people of Ukraine this week.
And the response to the fundraising appeals and collections that sprung up out of nowhere has been overwhelming.
There are community centres, libraries and back shops piled high with donations of clothes, food and medical supplies ready to be shipped to Ukraine and its borders.
At various points organisers had to ask people to stop sending in items because they were arriving too fast for volunteers to process them.
Individuals are doing their bit too. Like Dundee schoolgirl Katie Fleming, 8, who is collecting pencils and colouring books to send to refugee children.
St Johnstone teenager Max Kucheriavyi has teamed up with Letham FC community club to raise funds while he waits for news from his family in Kyiv.
Fife father-of-two Mark Fleming is driving more than 1,000 miles with a horsebox full of aid to help Ukrainian refugees.
The charity Missing Pets Perth and Kinross posted a message on Facebook on Monday night, asking supporters if they’d mind sending £100 from the group’s funds to help Ukrainian families fleeing with their animals.
The last time I checked it had received more than £13,000 in new donations.
Response is just the first step
The support shown by the people of Tayside and Fife for Ukraine this week was extraordinary.
But it’s still a tiny fraction of what’s needed to stem the humanitarian crisis that’s developing.
The Disasters Emergency Committee has launched an urgent appeal to help people fleeing conflict in Ukraine. #UkraineAppeal
The UK Government will match pound-for-pound up to £20 million donated by the public to this appeal. #UKAidMatch
— DEC (@decappeal) March 3, 2022
The response from our political leaders – from lukewarm Russian sanctions to limits on visas for Ukrainian refugees – has thus far fallen short of the message being sent by the voters who elected them.
But in a week when despair threatened to derail all our hard-won gains, ordinary people stepped up with compassion and generosity.
If that was you, I hope you’re proud.
We’re all weary and worried about money, but for anyone whose faith in humanity was wavering it was a remarkable show of solidarity.
And I hope everyone who reached out beyond their own little world can take some satisfaction in what they’ve started – and find the strength to go on giving.