Sunflowers stand tall and strong


“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” 

— Alice Walker

Who doesn’t love the idea of finding power within oneself at the most critical time in an embattled life? It is, as Ms. Walker so eloquently stated, something we far too often disregard.  

Biblical stories recited to us as young children kept a light shining on all manner of possibilities. I remember leaving Sunday School believing I was invincible after listening to some of these great David versus Goliath stories.  

Malcom Gladwell, who authored the book titled David and Goliath, offers some interesting viewpoints. 

“The reason King Saul is skeptical of David’s chances is that David is small and Goliath is large. Saul thinks of power in terms of physical might. He doesn’t appreciate that power can come in other forms as well — in breaking rules, in substituting speed and surprise for strength.” 

I write this as the Russian invasion of Ukraine unfolds, and along with the world, I have been reading every report available of how Ukrainians are faring in this assault upon their homeland. 

It is horrifying to imagine, and impossible to fully grasp living through such terrifying moments, tomorrow uncertain in every possible way. But Ukrainian men and women standing unified and strong for their homeland is one enormous point their powerful adversary miscalculated. 

Their president has remained to lead and fight for this democratic country. Reports of young Russian soldiers asking Ukrainians for food and fuel paints an interesting picture of how tides can turn. 

“Much of what we consider valuable in our world arises out of these kinds of lopsided conflicts, because the act of facing overwhelming odds produces greatness and beauty,” Gladwell writes in his October 2013 book.  

I attended a wedding a couple of years ago, the bride of Ukrainian descent, and a great number of her family flew in from Ukraine for the celebration. Our son stood with the groom, a lifelong friend, in a beautiful ceremony. 

The age-old symbolic traditions, wrapped in true joyfulness, were incredible and touching in ways that I had never experienced. My husband and I both felt blessed by it all.  

Yesterday, I thought of the bride’s family as I watched a video clip of a brave, defiant Ukrainian woman confronting heavily armed Russian troops in Henichesk, a port city on the sea of Azov. 

The translation of what she said will be carried for all time. “You should put sunflower seeds in your pockets so that they grow on Ukraine land after you die.”  

Sunflowers are a strategically important part of Ukraine’s agricultural economy. Overall production places Ukraine first in the world for oilseed crops, accounting for 70% of all oilseed crops grown worldwide.  

Sunflowers will forever be symbolic of standing tall and strong in the face of an overpowering adversary. 

Here’s hoping the Russian rampage ends, returning peace and democracy to Ukraine.


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.



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