There But For the Grace of God…

The war in Ukraine is disturbing on so many levels. What gets me this time perhaps more than others is how close to home it feels. I watch a lot of talent show clips on YouTube, many of which come from a version of The X Factor that I knew was somewhere in Europe but didn’t know which country. I always marveled at how frequently and easily everyone toggled back and forth between their native language and English.

I’ve since learned the show I’ve been watching was in Ukraine, leaving me wondering where these people are now and if they’re OK. I’ve seen videos of one favorite contestant from 2015, Mélovin, now doing concerts around the country to give people some diversion and relief.

Yesterday I was looking at news on my iPad and saw the picture above. Even with the sunglasses I thought “I know this guy.” Googling his name, Andriy Khlyvnyuk, I quickly figured out he was one of the X Factor judges I’ve watched dozens of times. I learned he just worked with Pink Floyd on that group’s first recording since 2014. The song “Hey, Hey Rise Up” protests Russia’s invasion (see below).

So here’s this somewhat ordinary guy, age 42, a musician and TV talent show judge, now a warrior doing territorial defense and training daily in antiaircraft, anti-helicopter and anti-tank warfare. He got hit by a Russian mortar while fighting in the suburbs of Kyiv. A piece of shrapnel had to be removed from his head, but now he’s back out there again. He lives in a military barrack in Kyiv.

Brings to mind “There but for the grace of God go I.” I’m not sure how much God has to do with it, but it doesn’t take a big leap to imagine the same thing here. I’m realizing how much alike our two countries are. I also think Ukraine shows what people can do and the strength workers can find in themselves when circumstances demand.

Stand with Ukraine!

Pink Floyd Video with Andriy Khlyvnyuk

Title image is Andriy Khlyvnyuk as he appears on my iPad. The photo is by Sasha Maslov, taken on March 24, 2022. It appears in an article in Billboard. All comments are welcome. I only ask that we remain civil and respectful of one another. If you clicked over from Facebook, please comment here rather than back there.

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