Russia. A sensitive topic, without a doubt. A topic that, from my point of view, is loaded with prejudice, distrust and a whole lot of bullshit. And I am fed up with it, honestly. I’ve had enough. I’ve had enough of stereotypes and accusations. I’m fed up with people just blabbing what they’ve heard in the media. I’m fed up of talking about politics. I don’t want to talk about it. And I know I shouldn’t, because once I touch upon this, there will always be somebody who thinks he knows more, who thinks he knows better. But that is not the point. I think what baffles me most is that people are convinced of things, good and bad, they can only back up with media coverage or whatever second-hand opinion. Even friends of mine sometimes approach me with questions and views that attest to some kind of bias that clearly can’t have developed independently – because you know how many Russians most of them know in person? One.
One way to deal with loaded topics is to go an aggressive, straight forward way. And somehow it feels like this is always the case when it comes to the topic of Russia – somehow everybody always seems to have a clear, determined opinion, with no doubt about what they know and think about how it really is, no black or white. Confusing, especially since I am convinced that a lot of them have no picture whatsoever of the differences between Russian mentality and theirs, no basic understanding of Eastern European thinking and values in general. Another way could be to find conciliative words, ever thought about that? I think it is time for reconciliation.
Whenever you switch on TV, this is what you get: Russians drink too much. Russian women are sluts. Russian men are ugly hulks. Everybody is dirt poor or choking on chiseled money. Russians have no taste. More is more. Have you heard about Russians on holiday? The worst. Villains in American movies? Mostly Russian – it seems to be the most convincing concept of the enemy. Because Russia is an aggressive nation. Putin is a lunatic. Also, he works out together with his buddies to maintain his sexy physique, in his leisure time he enjoys a good barbecue and bear hunting…
I always ask myself: How limited can a mind be that is only amenable to prejudice? For me personally there is little that I enjoy more than saying that I am Russian in public. The looks you get, the astonishment you face when people learn that Russians are capable of formulating a straight sentence, that they aren’t a nation of drunks, that their women don’t necessarily run around naked, looking for D and that you wouldn’t even tell that they are different than all of those other perfect links of your society, if it wasn’t for their accent. It’s ridiculous.
I get it. It’s funny. Haha. And I would lie if I told you that hearing something about Polish people doesn’t send a slight grin across my face – even though I count my boyfriends family, Polish, among the cultivated people that I have had the chance to meet in my life, I still associate Poland with pilferage and carousal. Japanese? Yes, the first thing that comes to my mind are animes and a weird relationship with sexuality. And Germany? Of course I think of Adolf before I think of Johann Wolfgang, Ludwig or Albrecht*. But at least I know that every country, no matter how many negative associations we have with it, has just as many reasons to be proud. Of its people, of its contribution to achievements that are cherished globally.
I don’t mean to sound whiny, I just wish there was more understanding, more will to see past this ancient construct of evil. I would like people to understand why it’s not always easy, not always black or white, not easy to understand and not easy to explain. I would like people to understand that democracy is not what everybody’s dreaming of, not what everybody needs and and not something that fits universally. I would like people to acknowledge that mentality makes a difference, personally and politically, and yes, it leads to differences in dynamic and it leads to differences in how things are done in different countries. I would like more people to understand why a lot of Russians complain but, contrary to belief, are proud of their country, take pride in their president and wouldn’t want to have it any other way – with (yes, I know) reservations 🙂 But to cover enough aspects of the Russian soul would fill a number of blog posts…
Think about it. When did it become ok to mock the tragedy of a country with caricatures under the cover of freedom of speech? Google it. Do you know a Russian personally or just by hearsay? The Russians you know – are they the cultivated kind or did you just happen to stumble upon scum? Can you name a hand full of Russian accomplishments or figures that aren’t associated with corruption or aggression? Do you really know what you’re talking about when you’re putting yourself out there with accusations and preconceptions?
*I’ll leave it to you to add surnames.