What Walking a UN Buffer Zone Taught Us About National Security

by Janelle Schroy

Russia invades Ukraine. Hamas invades Israel. Turkey invades Cyprus.

My four daughters stand at the Green Line in Cyprus in the island’s capitol city of Nicosia. It’s the “cease fire line” that divides the island nation of Cyprus into two parts: the Cypriot part and the Turkish part.

It was established in 1964 when Major-General Peter Young was the commander of a “peace force” which later became the United Nations Peacekeeping Force. The intention was to prevent further conflict between the invading Turks so they could ensure more security for the Cypriot nationals.

The Green Line is today’s lesson – and it’s all about national sovereignty.

When is it ok for one nation to start taking over another just because they want it?

As we drive through the desolate land in the UN Buffer Zone, bombed out buildings surround us. Not a living soul is in sight–other than soldiers with machine guns who quietly watch us pass by. They are serious, unsmiling.

Without prompting, the girls quickly see the parallels to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Is this what would happen if a ceasefire was called in Ukraine? The UN draws a line and Russia just gets to keep part of Ukraine’s land? No consequences?

The bully just — wins?!

We remind the kids to that Hawai’i is our home. Isn’t this the same thing that the United States did to the beautiful Hawaiian islands not so very long ago?

The US thought the position of the Hawaiian Islands was advantageous to geopolitics. America waltzed in and took over the islands, converting it all to American standards and wiping out much of the Hawaiian culture. Is that not what the European colonists (our forefathers) did to the native Americans when the “New World” was found?

A formerly Greek Orthodox church, now turned into a Mosque. Midday prayers in full swing.
Reagan (age 11) watching the midday prayers in the church turned mosque.

We forget so easily.

No one is innocent.

No, not one.

Taking over someone else’s sovereign nation is not ok, and never will be. Taking over someone’s possessions in the name of personal gain of strategic position doesn’t make it right.

This is worldschooling lesson of the day.

Turkish occupied land in Northern Cyprus. Famagusta.
Cyprus just below the Green Line, Greek culture proudly displayed.

So what does that mean for the next generation of global citizens, these precious faces who now face the world before them, willing, able, and ready to make the world BETTER, KINDER, and more THOUGHTFUL? Come on then. Let’s walk the line: What role do we play as their parents, leaders, teachers, mentors and coaches in this moment in history?

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