The truth is hard to find

Published: 08/03/2022 16:45:00 Modified: 08/03/2022 16:44:26 Last Saturday my ukulele band met at Forbes Library in Northampton. W...

Published: 08/03/2022 16:45:00

Modified: 08/03/2022 16:44:26

Last Saturday my ukulele band met at Forbes Library in Northampton. We had just returned in October, then omicron arrived in January, closing the door on us for another two months. Before COVID, we had met at Forbes almost every Saturday morning for six years! We continued to meet, of course, on Zoom and at Childs Park when the weather permitted.

It has been difficult for everyone over the past two years, experiencing the highs and lows of COVID-induced closings and openings, not to mention the economic and health crises of the ongoing pandemic. But things seem to be looking up in our community, at least for now, so the library reopened to us and it was a joyful reunion.

Music keeps me sane. For me, there is nothing happier than being part of a group of people who sing and play music together. For a few hours, I can leave the harsh realities of our world and all of its problems outside the door, and in that case, that door belongs to our wonderful library.

But outside that door is a war raging in Ukraine, a global pandemic that’s likely here to stay in one form or another, a United States completely divided by political and cultural differences (fueled by partisan lies and misinformation, I must add), with gas at the pump exceeding $4 a gallon, the costs of feeding our families seem to be rising every week, to name just a few of our daily challenges.

Although it takes place very far from home, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a sovereign and independent country, definitely caught my attention. What happens there affects the whole world, whether we like it or not. NATO, an organization founded in 1949 that now has 30 member nations including our own, has imposed huge and painful sanctions on Russia, its president, Vladimir Putin, and other members of the elite there. , hoping the pressure will stop the invasion. But despite the pain his citizens might be feeling, Putin seems unfazed, and the death and destruction continues.

In Putin’s initial announcement of the invasion, he called it a “special military operation to ‘demilitarize’ and ‘denazify’ Ukraine”. He added this threat to the world… “To anyone who would consider intervening from the outside: if you do, you will face greater consequences than you have faced in history. All relevant decisions have been made. I hope you can hear me. Putin also ordered Russian nuclear forces to be on high alert.

Denazify? Is there a Nazi faction in Ukraine that needs to be eliminated, and through an illegal military attack? What I learned about Putin’s motives for his invasion is that I can’t be sure what is true and what isn’t. My attempts to dig deeper have unearthed reports that there is a very active neo-Nazi militia in Ukraine called the Azov Brigade. He was integrated into the Ukrainian National Guard after participating in the last conflict with Russia in 2014.

It doesn’t seem to control the government, but unfortunately it exists and shouldn’t be part of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. This discovery made me realize how difficult it is to know for sure what is happening there or anywhere else in the world.

We have the ability to seek out truth, opposing voices and information in a way that some other countries don’t. And one of these countries is Russia itself. Putin shut down all independent news agencies in print, social media and television, and passed laws making coverage of the war in Ukraine a crime. Putin’s story is the only story in Russia.

I wonder if any of you have recently seen a photo or video on social media of what was supposed to be a young Ukrainian girl yelling at a Russian soldier. It turns out the photo was taken in 2012 and the girl was Palestinian, yelling at an Israeli soldier. Fortunately, there are organizations working tirelessly to uncover this type of misinformation.

But we can do some of that work ourselves using what’s called reverse image search, which allows us to determine when and where an image we find online was first introduced. It’s called TinEye and its image database currently contains 52.7 billion images! Just head over to to learn how to use this very accessible tool.

So there is misinformation everywhere, an ever-escalating war in Ukraine, and the veiled threat of nuclear war. With everything going on, I’m so thankful the former president no longer sits in the White House. His final suggestion on how to deal with Russia’s aggression is that “the United States should put the Chinese flag on the F-22 planes” and send them to bomb Russia, leaving China to bear the blame. Yes, he really said that. Luckily for us and for the world, Joe Biden is now president and seems to be handling this crisis with careful, measured words and actions.

What kept me sane these days? It’s making music with friends and having a calm, reasonable, and clearly sane person running our country.

Karen Gardner of Haydenville can be contacted at

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Newsrust - US Top News: The truth is hard to find
The truth is hard to find
Newsrust - US Top News
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