The Economist headlines. Guardian bulletins. BBC News Flashes. Tweets quoting Zelensky to the UN. Angry videos. Toxic propaganda.

I feel bombarded by the day-to-day, often hour-to-hour and sometimes minute-to-minute experiences of the Russian-Ukraine war.

But the geography has seemed far away from my Scottish ecovillage. Until last week, when it got very close as I ventured out (for the first time since the pandemic began) to Brussels and Amsterdam.

There I encountered the war, face to face, with my Russian friends who had relocated to Amsterdam to give their young son opportunities that Russian education could not provide (concepts of equality between pupil and teacher for example). Ironically at the beginning of 2019 we had stood on the steps of De Ceuvel in Amsterdam, during the We Make the City Festival and declared 2 Manifestos. (Manifesto for New Sincerity for Future Generations and Manifesto for Climate Change for Organizations.)

This couple had invested time, money and effort to start a new restaurant – an entrepreneurial venture which had to be closed during the pandemic lockdown (which of course they had not forseen).

Much harder was the loss of both the husband’s parents to covid in the last year – back in Russia where it was difficult to get accurate reporting of covid deaths.

But then the “military conflict” – that could not be identified as “war” brought unexpected insult to this immigrant family in their new city – because as soon as people found out their Russian identity (by passport or other identification processes) they were identified with the whole ignominy of the Russian war machine.

How many people knew that this couple had taken steps of Care to demonstrate their opposition to the war by extending tangible help to Ukranians fleeing the war? That they had hosted several fund raising dinners. That the tips in the restaurant were all donated to the Ukraine? That the proceeds from a special offer all went to Ukrainian refugees? And the owner himself volunteered time and resources at a refugee centre?

I wondered at the swift judgments that my friends felt they were subject to – until I was being processed at the passport desk on re-entering Scotland. Did I have another passport besides my Canadian one? No??? I pointed to my Visa – but all the immigration officer could see was the several Russian Visas that I had in my passport – for trips several years past. He looked very suspiciously at me. Did I have a Residence Card? Oh Yes – I did – but I had forgotten because it had been so long since I had travelled.

But I thank the immigration officer for his accusatory look of suspicion – it made me realize what it feels like to be condemned for associations of birth, heritage, relationships and culture that I have both inherited and chosen. Now through a chimera of dark imagination they can become politically reinterpreted as incorrect and add constraints to my life that were not visible before.

Those experiences shared by my Russian friends and the immigration challenges to my own identity gave me deeper appreciation of the value of Care. When we live the Master Code of Care for Planet, Place and People, then we are called to give ourselves and others the benefit of the doubt – not to accuse others of the unfair assumptions that arise from contracting into othering, fear, projection and condemnation.

It turns out that the war is as close as the inside of me. And that Care, Kindness and Curiosity are virtuous weapons that are necessary for me to practise, to combat the assumptions that war mongering can too easily foster in words, reactions and responses.