[A Healing Vision for Ukraine] In this special conversation with Douglas Gardner, former United Nations Resident Coordinator in Ukraine, we discuss the current conflict in the region as well as opportunities and strategies for deep healing of the traumas that have affected so many people in that region.
About Healing & Proven Trauma Recovery Techniques
As perhaps deceptively simple as they may sound, Gardner discusses and advocates several proven, non-pharmacological techniques to help people heal from and overcome trauma, including meditation, soft-belly breathing, yoga, singing, art, dance, and other individual and community-scale / group approaches. Citing the leadership and insights of several notable thought leaders, he reflects on the scaling-up of these psycho-social support methods in Ukraine and elsewhere in the world where healing is needed (which is just about everywhere as host Aaron Perry points out). According to Gardner, a key to this work in the group context is developing a “comfort zone” within the group, a methodology being deployed in Ukraine by a variety of organizations and coalitions. Gardner recently penned the Boulder Daily Camera op-ed “From Omaha Beach to Bucha, Ukraine: Pathways Towards Peace and Healing Exist in Ukraine” (PDF also available below); and references several other key pieces, including: “A Path to Freedom: Healing the Trauma of War” a plenary speech given by Gaea Logan, Fellow of The American Association for Group Psychology (see PDF below); a “Center for Mind-Body Medicine in Ukraine” white paper by the CMBM (see PDF below); a recent Washington Post article by Siobhán O’Grady and Anastacia Galouchka titled “Traumatic Stress, an Invisible Wound, Hobbles Ukrainian Soldiers”; the United Nations’ publication “Ukraine Endorses Roadmap on Mental Health During the War Under Prime Minister and Frist Lady of Ukraine”; and the International Center for Mental Health and Human Rights’ (ICMHR) “Support Ukraine Initiative” in their Dignity ~ Capacity ~ Resilience work, through which you can help support healing efforts for Ukrainians.
About the War in Ukraine
Mr. Gardner advocates “shining the light of truth” on the current situation in Ukraine. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a sovereign nation, thousands of women, men, and children have suffered profound trauma. Not only has this caused terrible suffering for Ukrainians, but also for ordinary Russians, over one million of whom, it is estimated, have fled in order to avoid conscription and other totalitarian impacts. Additionally, the war has impacted many of the world’s poorest people, especially in developing nations – the “global south” – where increased energy costs, food costs, and inflationary pressures resulting in part from disruptions of the Ukrainian economy have exacerbated living conditions already destabilized by global economic fallout from the covid pandemic and other macro-economic realities in recent years (see the related podcast episodes referenced below for more context). The global community, through the auspices of the United Nations General Assembly have thrice voted to condemn Russia’s aggression (with a 141 nation super-majority).
About the United Nations
Founded at the end of the Second World War, the United Nations was established to help prevent large-scale warfare as well as regional conflicts escalating into large-scale wars, as the world experienced in WWI and WWII. With an image of the Earth surrounded by olive branches, the UN is, in the words of Gardner, “the best hope” for our global community to maintain international peace and to respond when it is threatened.
About Douglas Gardner
Douglas Gardner grew up in Wellesley Ma. and had the urge to travel from an early age. After graduating from Denison University with a dual degree in Economics and English, he scratched that travel itch by joining the Peace Corps for service in Burkina Faso as a well digger for potable water.
A subsequent master’s degree in international business, leading to a job in the three-piece suit on Wall Street with the Chase Manhattan Bank did not cut it. Instead, he found his real calling working for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) for over 30 years, with assignments around the globe in places like Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Mongolia, Ukraine, as well as New York.) His assignment in Ukraine 20 years ago was the starting point for his present-day interest in peace and healing in that country which is presently at war with Russia.
Working as the Director of Occidental College’s Program at the UN for eight years prior to the pandemic gave him a chance to give back to young 21-year-old talents interested in understanding the development process and creating a better world.
Douglass is presently the Acting Director of the Highland Institute for the Advancement of Humanity based in Boulder Colorado where you’ll find him hiking, swimming, skiing and carrying his mat to the next yoga class. Douglass wears his biggest smile when his 28- and 26-year-old daughters are in town visiting.
Resources & Related Episodes
Douglas Gardner, Boulder Daily Camera op-ed “From Omaha Beach to Bucha, Ukraine: Pathways Towards Peace and Healing Exist in Ukraine”
Washington Post article by Siobhán O’Grady and Anastacia Galouchka titled “Traumatic Stress, an Invisible Wound, Hobbles Ukrainian Soldiers”
United Nations’ publication “Ukraine Endorses Roadmap on Mental Health During the War Under Prime Minister and Frist Lady of Ukraine”
International Center for Mental Health and Human Rights’ (ICMHR) “Support Ukraine Initiative”