Support comes in lots of forms.
You can give money. You can give time. You can sign petitions or attend events or put a sticker on your car.
All of these can show where your heart or your head or your sympathies lie. This charity. That movement. This party. That cause.
Then there is the way we remove support. That can be more vocal and more sudden — especially after a well-publicized uproar.
There is no more well-publicized uproar in the world right now than Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
It has prompted a blizzard of support worldwide for Ukraine. Social media profile pictures are including the blue-and-yellow Ukrainian flag. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is becoming a hero beyond his borders as videos of his statements and leadership go viral.
But just as important has been the withdrawal of support from Russia. Some of it has been huge, like the cutting off of Russia financially from banking systems or the specific freezing of assets of individuals such as Russian President Vladimir Putin. Some has been unprecedented, such as the historically neutral Switzerland joining the list of nations condemning the invasion.
And some has been as small as a shot of vodka.
On Sunday, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board took up a challenge from Gov. Tom Wolf and pulled Russian products from its shelves.
On the one hand, is this really a big deal? It won’t even impact most hard vodka drinkers as the majority of the liquor sold in the U.S. isn’t Russian. It’s made in America or Sweden or the United Kingdom — and let’s hope that people who decide to boycott Russian products don’t hurt unrelated producers.
But vodka might be the one Russian product most Americans can really pick out of a crowd. Your average Southwestern Pennsylvania store isn’t crowded with things exported from Russia. Good caviar isn’t on most local tables.
The country’s other exports are things such as iron and steel, which Pennsylvania already would prefer be bought domestically. There are things such as minerals, chemicals and fertilizer, but those are more of a corporate decision than an individual’s buying power. So vodka it is.
There is a temptation to see this as a gesture, like changing the name of french fries to freedom fries after opposition during the Iraq War.
But every gesture of support, or withdraw of that support, is a stand for what people feel. For what matters to them. And if rejecting a Russian drink is one way to do it, it seems like a small sacrifice.