Within days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, veteran fundraiser Harvey McKinnon, a perpetually outraged saint on behalf of causes that matter, sent out a batch of memes urging fellow fundraisers to put ‘em to good use and help spread the word on the central importance of reducing the use of Russian oil –the main fuel of Putin’s war machine

Harvey’s action serves as a poignant reminder that we all –whether we work for nonprofits aiding Ukraine or crises in other war-torn nations or not—have both a professional and personal responsibility to do everything in our power to help however we can—especially when the stakes are so fundamentally high that they threaten the very future of  democracy.

There’s no question that the brave Ukrainians’ defense of democracy and their resistance to totalitarian Russia’s barbaric invasion has captivated the world. Since that first day on February 24 our social media, newspapers and tv channels –thanks to legions of intrepid reporters and photojournalists—have painted an ever-darker picture of the ultimate bravery, suffering and sacrifice sometimes required to defend democracy.

In response to Putin billions have been paid by governments, corporations and ordinary folks to support Ukraine and sent there in the  form of everything from cryptocurrency, to food, to medical supplies, and missiles.

The urge to express solidarity with Ukrainians by donating –the least most of us can do—is only natural. But even amid the Ukrainian tragedy I worry greatly that equally grave and despairing crises elsewhere in the world may get short shrift.

Although newspaper headlines and the breathless Breaking News of cable television has long faded on these other crises, we must not forget the countries –and the organizations offering assistance –where wars have ground on for years, such as Yemen, Afghanistan and Ethiopia, not to mention the economic and social disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic that have put tens of millions of people at risk of drowning in sorrow and extreme poverty or dying of starvation.

Be Aware of The Fundamental Crisis

I firmly believe we must pay far more attention and devote far more energy to a crisis that is larger, even more fundamental than war or famine—the threat to democracy.

Here’s why.

A healthy democracy is a precondition for progress on virtually all the issues and causes we fundraisers serve.  As Stephen Heintz, president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund has warned, “…a broken democracy makes other broken systems and institutions much harder to fix.”

Make no mistake.  An illiberal democracy or autocracy makes solving difficult problems more difficult, sometimes impossible, and often exacerbates others like violence or loss of free speech or the vote.

Harvey’s #StandWithUkraine memes focus on cutting off Putin’s funds.  They also triggered in me thoughts of oil industry profiteering and other practices by corporations that endanger democracy.

Few factors undermine our collective resolve to stand up for either Ukraine or democracy than the feeling that some groups are profiting while the rest of us are smacked at the gas pump or face other skyrocketing bills.

Even before the Ukraine headlines,  polls and focus groups reported that increasing numbers of people were feeling the system is rigged in favor of the rich and influential. (See this study reporting that three in four Europeans feel this way.)

Maintaining  a sense of unity and shared purpose along with the right to freely express  personal beliefs and choices ––pillars of democracy—requires shared sacrifice where rules are enforced, cheaters exposed and punished, and where all citizens have easy access to the ballot to assure accountability.

Back in February The Agitator noted the rising tide of corporate hypocrisy giving rise to this disease of cynicism and mistrust – deadly enemies of democracy because they erode citizen participation and involvement.

In my next post I’ll deal with this mostly silent, but deadly threat to democracy by some major corporations.



P.S. You can download Harvey’s #StandWithUkraine meme here.

Or. If you want to make you own meme go her for The 10 Best Meme Makers Online (Free to use)