“Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes”

In a comment on my previous post (introducing the new video “Ukraine is a World of Love” by Alicia Kishe), a friend wrote, “It was painful watching the video of Alicia. The beauty and sweetness I saw … and Putin blowing it up.”

By the way, folks, be happy for Alicia Kishe.  I happen to know from experience of her elsewhere that she is thrilled to see Views and Likes and Subscribes.  Please reward her.  It will mean a lot to her.  For a little extra fun, here is Alicia’s latest self-made 19-second home video, posted April 26, 2022, titled, “I Just Dance.”  Stop by and give her a Like and good wishes:

Cracks me up.

My reply to my friend’s comment got out of hand, so I moved it to this new post instead of a comment.

Friend, I believe that you speak for many people who get struck by the video that way, but most would not say so out loud as you have, for fear that they would be admitting that they did not “get it” in the expected or “appropriately” sentimental way. That kind of expectation just adds to the pain.  The only “appropriate” way is to try, as one is able, to keep an open mind.  That can be hard to do in pain.

You got me thinking more about the ways Alicia’s video can affect people, and about the overall situation in Ukraine and my relationship with it.

The heart yearns in all directions. This one is Alicia’s. She clings to the beauty that you see, with faith that it will not be utterly destroyed because it is, in essence, more than anything Putin can destroy.

Ukraine’s cultural history involves repeated instances of being driven to despair — literally mass slaughter and widespread starvation — most notably under the brutality of Russia, under its Catherine the Great, its Stalin, and its Putin. Yet they still sing of not just victory, but of recovery. The world may yet learn to stop underestimating the Cossack spirit.

The first line of Alicia’s song, in the midst of the worst devastation there since Stalin, is, “Our destiny is the greatest in the world.” Delusional or inspired? And it declares, “We will get back our world of love.” I wish I could say that about America, have that hope, that vision.

At 1:06 in the song, combat scenes run for five seconds, where the weapon fire is all reversed, taking back the rockets and artillery shells. Then she sings, “Our country will be forever. Tell the world about all the nicest things we have.”

They do it again at 2:45, for the last five seconds of the song, with Alicia singing, “We will get back our world of love,” as the bombs reverse and go back into their weapons. It’s just an image, of course, but it helps the lyric make its point. The majority of the video images are beautiful scenes of places, people and events in Ukraine, their inspiration to make the bombs stop.  It’s a celebratory song.

“Tell the world about all the nicest things we have.” It’s an interesting alternative to saying, “Come save us.” From the start of Putin’s threat of invasion, I have felt compelled to avoid bemoaning the tragedy and instead glorify the people of Ukraine and its natural wonders. I have little hope that we will learn to put an end to war by learning about the destruction of war, its horrors and brutalities and insanity. We may, however, learn from war what we have, who we are, and what to sing.

For now, in telling, as Alicia asks, I’m telling about some of their music … there are more Ukrainian songs coming to this blog, amazing ones rooted in antiquity.

Alicia adds, “We are lighting lights with our singing.” The scene turns to that of a little girl seeing a sea of lights in the hands of tens of thousands of people as she, a refugee-survivor, sang the Ukraine national anthem a capella in a charity event in Poland. It was little Amelia Anisovych, first recorded singing to her fellow victims in a bomb shelter, “Let it Go” from the Disney animated feature, “Frozen.” Amelia, as I assume also with Alicia, is a national icon now. Alicia nails it when she says they are lighting lights with singing. They are singing lights, burning holes in the dark.

Amelia Anisovych in Poland

Amelia Anisovych, singing Ukrainian National Anthem to massive crowd at fundraising event in Poland, where she is in refuge from her war-torn Ukraine.  (Yep, another of my award winning still image captures from a real video.  I awarded myself this remark about it.)

My power flurries through the air into the ground
My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around
And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast:
I’m never going back, the past is in the past!
– from the song Let it Go in in Disney’s film, Frozen

The bomb shelter was noisy with suffering, some people laying on the floor, some crying, some chatting, everyone about as uncomfortable as people get with bombs landing above.  The big basement room fell silent as Amelia ministered to their hearts with an angelic voice just doing something she loves to do. She says that she sings as often as she can because it’s all she wants to do. She could easily inspire any decent human being to throw themselves onto a grenade to help save her country. Her message, however, was no message at all. It was just her singing someone else’s song in hell. The message is what she inspires in others.

I hear glory.

Maybe best of all, Alicia Kishe’s video shows rockets and canon fire reversing, back into the weapons. The song is saying, for one thing, “We will reverse this.” Overall, in the 3 minute song, the military parts did not occupy more than 15 seconds, and only a few seconds of scenes of destruction, a few seconds of anguished faces. Overall, the song is about children inspiring the future of the nation that the adults must not lose, and will not.

I assume that there are millions of Ukrainians who have lost all faith, have had it pounded out of them, ripped and torn from their souls, skewered in their hearts, minds and bodies. Alicia’s song and graphically intense video have them in mind. Before this is over, more than half of all Ukrainians will have faced severe impacts of the war. An estimate I heard yesterday said 25 of their 44 million people. It’s a little hard to get my head around half the US population, 165 million American lives wrecked, maimed, grossly impoverished, raped, tortured, made homeless, killed, property and possessions obliterated, lands destroyed and poisoned.  Livestock and pets slain, some tortured.  Towns flattened.  Ancient monuments, structures, cathedrals destroyed.

On the other hand, it’s also hard to get my head around the indomitable spirit that will make Ukraine and its beauty win in the end. They will, at unbelievable cost, but they will. And I’m not known for being especially optimistic about a lot of things. They will win because they have so much to live for, and the heart to strive for it, as Alicia and Amelia show us.  They will win also with the help they inspire from us.

I’m not sure my country has that much to live for, it seeming doomed to me now. Painful as it is, some of us need to be reminded of the horror of the war, to be pushed to stay in touch with it, now in Ukraine (but also any day anywhere, including New York and Texas and San Francisco — we are not immune), because ultimately we die with Ukraine if we do not help save her. If we are not doomed yet, we will be if Putin wins in Ukraine.

As the famous Ukrainian singer Tina Karol put it at a concert, on stage holding hands with Amelia Anisovych, “We are the brave nation that saves the whole world.” If they lose, we all lose.  (10-second clip)

Weeks ago I said, “I wonder how many days it will be before the war falls off the front page?” To my greater dismay, the savagery of the war is enough to keep it on the front page despite our short attention span and long ignorance of things in the real world.

Most people in this country don’t know what is going on and could not find Ukraine on a map if you told them it was in Eastern Europe between the Black Sea and Poland. They need videos like Alicia’s to wake them up to the reality that their children are just like Ukraine’s, live like them, suffer like them, die like them. Sing lights like them.

My Friend, whether yours are tears of beauty responding to beauty, or tears of pain responding to evil contrasted with the same beauty, they are all “the right tears.” Alicia’s song is precious in more ways than I can count or relate. Yours are yours. It is what she showed you. The pain she aroused is possible because of your love and compassion. Still, I suggest revisiting the song and the images to see if she can also inspire you in other ways. She may not be able to take away the pain, but she may be able to add something.

Alicia’s father, Tim (“KisheOfficial” YouTube artist channel) wrote (as far as I can make out from the clumsy Google Translate output), “At this difficult time for our country, we Ukrainians united for the sake of [defeating] the Russian aggressor. We combined our efforts in all directions. Our heroic soldiers in their hands protect our land, our brave and tireless volunteers create miracles and get everything they need for our soldiers and for all Ukrainians who need help, medicines, food, clothing. Our musical family is involved in charitable and volunteer assistance and continues to write Ukrainian songs and shoot [videos]. Our generation must take care of the future of our children and our children join the [historic?] front, and sing beautiful songs with all heart and soul! Songs of hope and love to support each other and every Ukrainian.”

Efforts in all directions. His is music. I think he is emphasizing the need to keep children (and the child within me) uplifted by love and beauty, to protect them from utter desolation of the heart, to protect them from incurable pain. In its way, the song can be nourishing and an aid to healing.

The war scenes in the video can — not always, not for everyone, but for many, I believe — actually amplify the beauty, rally hearts to beauty’s cause, energize their faith in one another to sustain their culture, and glorify the good, the true and the beautiful, by showing in war scenes what is lost if we let go, give up in the face of evil’s endless onslaught, which comes also from “all directions.”

If I could show you all the evil in me, cumulative as it arose over the years, you would not like me one bit.  Might want me rubbed out.  Bumped off.  But there’s Nature and music and art sustaining something worthwhile despite myself. I can’t give up. I owe too much. I am often on the edge, and there are often songs or flowers or birds with me there. Ukraine is being shoved to the edge of extinction. Every last note of every song, every whispered line, is keeping her alive, as with me. We are Ukraine beyond our ken. We are her war and her beauty. They both sing.

If I say “I/we am/are Ukraine” or “Ukraine is me/us,” I do it aware of the existence of evil in all directions, along with the existence of something greater: unity in the good. Songs are great tools for binding hearts, in both their lovely and their ugly parts. Music and art fit us together like puzzle pieces.

Tim continues, “Our little music team wants to present my daughter’s debut song, which she invented and together with our musical producer, wrote it and recorded it. This creative tandem was joined by our ward Jane, who has not long presented her song – ‘My Land.’  She helped with the text of the song and I have joined this work as a video-maker. … So the song “Ukraine-world of love” from our children to all heroic Ukrainians! … The victory will be for us! Glory to Ukraine!”

In context, it is apparent that he refers to everyone involved in the project, of all ages, as “our children,” the children of our team, of our mission.

“Ukraine is a world of love” … Music: Alicia Kishe / Timothy Reshetko; Words: Alicia Kishe/ Timothy Reshetko/ Ivan Rushko/ Kishe / Jane; Arrangement: Timothy Reshetko; Video/Regesors/Camera/Installation: Kishe

Tim mentioned Jane. Below is her song created with Kishe Recording. It hurts, too. I don’t blame anybody from turning away as long as it is done out of awareness and compassion, not out of disrespectful, uncaring brutality. But it is a rousing new patriotic song, and loaded with beauty despite war. I hope it rouses love for Ukraine, even if not hope for now.

Моя Земля (MY LAND) by Jane & Vishnevskiy (English subtitles built in – no need to turn on captions) …

These are the notes they put on the song’s YouTube page:

“In this difficult time for our country, all of us Ukrainians have united for one goal – Victory! Everyone does everything they can. Our Warriors of Light with weapons in their hands protect, defend us, our cities and destroy the enemy!

”Glory to the Heroes!’

“In the pauses between volunteering and the information war, our creative team is trying to create Ukrainian music, because our language, our culture and our songs are also weapons. But this is still our essence and our worldview! With our music we have to fill the hearts of Ukrainians and inspire them to live, to fight, to win! Because we are on our land, the truth is on our side, and the love for our Ukraine is in our hearts!

“Creative tandem of young performers Jane & Vyshevsky under professional guidance Kishe and music producer Tymofiy Reshetko created the song “My Land”, and Kishe captured some moments from his stockpile of drone flights and, using material from the network, edited a very powerful video series!

“We want to support everyone with our work! Our Heroes, our people of Ukraine and ourselves! ❤️ Together we are fighting for the true independence and freedom of our Ukraine!

“Support our work !!

“🇺🇦❤️Glory to Ukraine! ❤️🇺🇦

“Authors of music and lyrics: JANE / VISHNEVSKY / Kishe; Recording and compilation: Tymofiy Reshetko (TIM); Video series: Kishe”

By the way, the view count on Alicia’s video is now (April 29, 2022 2:00 PM NY) 83,820, up from 64,332 when I found it two days ago.  It was released April 24.  That’s an average of about 17,000 views per day.  Well, yeah, a few thousand of them were mine.

I could not find the lyrics written out, so I typed them as they appear in the video. And I love the music that Alicia’s voice and words ride upon.

Ukraine is a World of Love
by Alicia Kishe & Family

Our destiny is the greatest in the world
Our will is so strong even if we’re young
Children are singing together every day
For Ukraine cause this is all we have

Ukraine you are like a bright sky
You will bloom this is all we need
Through all the tears together with you
We will get back our world of love

Our country will be forever
Tell the world about all the nicest things we have
We are lighting a light with our singing
Because my friends we are not alone

Ukraine you are like a bright sky
You will bloom this is all we need
Through all the tears together with you
We will get back our world of love

[Rap interlude]
The world of beauty, the world of love
And our youngsters are carrying kindness
and keeping our will strong
For their future and for their destiny
We’re giving everything we have
and everyone let’s go to battle
There will be no tears anymore, no tiredness
Eternal memory of our heroic warriors
Even though our hearts are wounded
We are cherishing the hope
Because we believe that Ukraine will rebuild its Dream

Ukraine you are like a bright sky
You will bloom this is all we need
Through all the tears together with you
We will get back our world of love

Ukraine you are like a bright sky
You will bloom this is all we need
Through all the tears together with you
We will get back our world of love


Is our destiny the greatest in the world?
Do we inspire that belief in our children?

Слава Україні. Героям слава.
Slava Ukraini. Heroyam slava.
Glory to Ukraine. Glory to heroes.