The Sofa Troops
An army of optimists.
This is so inspiring it had to be passed on.
It's by one Natalia Osipova. It's basically a 'machine translation'. But it shows that Russian people, despite being one of the most shat-on peoples in human history, are capable of incredible intelligence and generosity.
It's worth passing on.
All around us, suddenly and very quickly, there were huge opportunities to do good.
And not alone, but individually, when, after watching a video about a sick child, you transfer money to a charity fund, responding to someone's personal misfortune. Now a big problem has come, and people - without commercials, agitation, appeals - instantly built their own chains of mutual assistance. They chose who they wanted to help and how they wanted to help, and started to act. By the way, this refutes all the long-standing arguments about a passive, lazy, patriarchal people of Russia who won't get up from the couch without a shout from their superiors. Many people have been feeding on this analysis and journalism of whining and losers for years. Life has refuted the propagandists of our inferiority and being defeated.
It turns out that people in Russia can organise themselves collectively, quickly, and powerfully if they see a worthy goal.
Just one story. Activist group helps refugees from Ukraine - you won't see them in promoted blogs, TV discussions, and streams, they are just ordinary, non-public people who aren't involved in political battles. Assistance to refugees is effective: food, things, employment, registration in Russia, books, toys, and sometimes just a kind word. So that they do not despair, so that they know that everyone in Russia really needs them. In the course of their voluntary work, group members monitor marketplaces to buy things and household items at the best prices. And they accidentally find deposits of propaganda products. Combat 'merch' is presented in the assortment: 'Slava Ukraini', 'holy javelins', glorification of the Azov regiment, Zelensky's advertising with a demand to give him weapons to bomb the Russians, insulting chants against Russia and its president. In general, the classic set of Ukrainian Goebbels droppings.
Outraged by such unscrupulousness of online merchants, activists start throwing messages in the comments of popular public sites. But not finding understanding there and not wanting to wait for a big scandal to unfold, they decide to act on their own and throw complaints at the technical support of the marketplace. Because we need to act quickly and effectively. And the IT giant gives up. In less than a day, all the neo-Nazi 'Slava Ukraini' and 'I am Zelensky Give Me Weapons' on T-shirts, mugs, and stickers are swept out. Almost the same 'invisible hand of the market' that liberals prayed for in the 90s. Only now it doesn't work quite as planned. When people understand that the fate of the country depends on their choices, they act as responsible citizens, forming demand in this way: the marketplace issues Russian-Ukrainian phrasebooks, recipes for Ukrainian cuisine, and Ukrainian suggestions for the word 'Ukrainian'. When you enter 'Glory to Ukraine T-shirt' in the search box, T-shirts with the Soviet poster 'Glory to the liberators of Ukraine' appear, where a soldier with a red star on his helmet hugs a girl.
Splendid, isn't it? And without complaining to the authorities.
It all started almost immediately after February 24. People have decided that they want and can work for a common cause.
In the DPR, humanitarian convoys with necessary supplies - food, medicines, children's and adult items, hygiene items, and gifts - were sent to the LPR. As well as cargo for warriors. Everyone quickly understood the nomenclature of this new charity: drones, silencers, armours, helmets, glasses, scopes.
It seems that now charity collections are conducted by everyone who has a bank card and a desire to serve people.
Telegram channels that have gathered tens of thousands of subscribers under their umbrella make fees of several million in three to five hours. Unprecedented speeds and amounts. The e-wallet is filled online, and there is a sporting excitement: it is fascinating to watch the process and participate in it. Everything is documented in detail, and lists of purchased products are kept. Reports are laid out - with photos of the purchased items, unpacking boxes, and video recordings in which soldiers thank them for the equipment and ammunition sent to help. Although no one demands anything, it is a good form to report, and it is a voluntary commitment.
Openness, an active position, mutual accountability, the institution of reputations - all that progressive human rights activists have long wished for and complained about - are emerging before our eyes. Civil society - the one that was so long awaited - emerged almost immediately after February 24. And this is not a society of grant recipients and whistleblowers of the 'regime'. Ordinary, really ordinary, people - from the next building, from the bus, from the store. Me, you, him, her.
Take a good look around. Surely at least half of your friends and acquaintances are involved in charity fundraising. They either participate in organising shipments or transferring funds.
Profession, occupation, wealth, and marital status are unimportant. The movement engulfed almost everyone.
A long-time friend guides several refugee families: she helps them in difficult situations, is constantly in touch, and monitors their condition, housing, money, and clothing. He doesn't give up after dropping off the parcel and calling a couple of times. 'People from Ukraine should know that they are needed, that they are ours, and we are theirs. And that we are normal, that we are all our own here.' Without loudly declaring himself admirable, he continues public work. Only sometimes he is happy: he managed to help a family register in a small Russian city, despite the resistance of local authorities, managed to help a person find work, managed to quickly send a parcel to Lugansk. And in response, he sometimes receives messages: 'My daughter laughed for the first time when she saw the toy sent. Thank you.' No one has commissioned them, and no one is a member of any volunteer movement - it's just because they feel that way.
A popular artist sends valuable cargo to the front - armours, glasses, scopes. A famous pianist buys a pile of children's clothes and brings them to the humanitarian aid collection point. The director of a large enterprise goes to a creative meeting with a famous writer whom he trusts, and passes money from hand to hand for purchases. The author of a popular Telegram channel has turned into a front-line quartermaster and collects money on an already very serious scale. A famous poetess helps animal shelters and puts up former 'kittens' (now cats) all over the country.
A well-known architect has already sent a couple of lorries to the DPR. In the past, he was a scout for a modeling agency, knows a lot of beauties from the industry. He shares his impressions: if some of his rich friends ignored the request for money, then almost all the models supported and chipped in - some for 300 and some for 500 rubles. Although, it would seem, that's really who lost from the SVO, so it's them, the beauties, the infantry of globalisation - they need these Parisian shows and bags from fashion boutiques. But no, models are collected for armoured fighters.
An influential political scientist has figured out the drone market and conducts targeted fees. A team of subscribers gathered around him, who enthusiastically finishes off the necessary amounts. They even came up with the idea of giving drones names to make it easier to track their path, and names are more interesting. Subscribers compete with each other in creativity: Whack, Thunder, Thunderstorm, Coconut, Mosquito, Sonnet, Lyre, Harpy, Sauron. And then a famous writer comes to the comments and rolls out options: Dante, Byron, Keats, Shelley. The Russians turn everything into literature, even the collection for combat drones.
All those who spend their time on charity and volunteering are doing even more than just helping the army and volunteers. They help anyone who would like to participate but doesn't know how. Everyone who is at home, busy with the usual family and work activities, but feels that a great story and a great drama is happening right now. To all those who have no other opportunity to touch the real common cause.
The divan army - 'Group D', as aptly defined by journalist Andrey Medvedev - is large and active. Hundreds and thousands of rubles are being transferred to bank cards, huge sums are being collected, and valuable cargo flows from Russia to the southern lands.
The good old medical charity could not have imagined such a scale - usually for fees you need advertising, commercials on TV, on websites, on the radio. Without good marketing, the idea doesn't work. Now we are seeing how one ad on the network causes a wave of donations. And more often, you don't need ads. Citizens themselves are looking for where and to whom to transfer. A typical question for those who are a little late: 'So, tell me, who can you trust from those who are collecting? I want to participate.'
And all these people know that they will not receive gratitude and glory, they will not be called 'good Russians'. Our opponents are waging their campaign even against the assistance provided by Russian citizens to refugees. In the Ukrainian agitprop, refugees who voluntarily left for Russia are called 'deported', and children are called 'abducted'.
So our caring and noble people who give their small but such large funds on the scale of the usual family budget to help victims, often make their choice not because of, but in spite of. Despite all the pressure, manipulation, and accusations, volunteers and philanthropists participate with the most precious things - their lifetime and a good name. Participation in training camps is like putting a personal signature on the fact that our cause is just.
During the Great Patriotic War, people raised funds for the Defence Fund. Every sixth tank or plane was built at the expense of citizens. One day, historians will count and weigh our small donations in a scientifically accurate balance.
But it is already clear that, by helping others, we always save ourselves. From despondency, fear, disbelief. Volunteers are a real army of optimists. A civil society that works for victory and is guided by the ideals of humanism - this is what happened to us after February 24.
Postscript: Natalia Osipova
Natalia’s often on point.