Affinity Towards Russia

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When Cee posted this week’s photo challenge of domes, my thoughts went to this photo I took of the golden domes of Catherine’s Palace outside of St. Petersburg, Russia. It also brought up the conflict I experience when I look at some lithographs I have hanging in our bedroom, purchased at the Peter & Paul Fortress. My daughter had lived and worked in St. Petersburg for a year shortly after perestroika. She invited me to accompany her for a return visit in 2004, and her friend agreed to sponsored us for a visa and then allowed us to stay with her in her apartment. Her friend was a marvelous host, opening up so many opportunities to meet people and experience the culture. My daughter knew the city so we would explore during the day while her friend worked and then we would spend the evening with the family, sometimes attending events. What fun we had communicating because her friend is fluent in English, her daughter knows some German, and my daughter is fluent in German and knows some Russian.

Now the Russian government is our enemy because they committed a hostile act against our democracy by interfering in our election process. Does my desire to display representations of their history and culture make it seem to others that I am complicit in condoning their intellectual and technological aggression? Should I burn and break all these artifacts of this evil “other?” Should I shun my Soviet-born daughter-in-law who is intelligent, loving, beautiful, kind and fun to be with?

No, I won’t. I don’t have a world view that there is a broad “other” who is different than I and thus bad and evil. Yes, the Russian government is a bad player and is an enemy of our country, but I am still going to celebrate the strong and courageous people born on that foreign soil. I will enjoy the brilliant composers, dancers, and artists that the country produced. I will fondly remember and celebrate the beauty of St. Petersburg and remember with fondness all the people I met and encountered. Travel always whets my curiosity about the history and culture of the places I visit so I will continue to read about it and now to also stay knowledgeable about their current political system and the players in Russia and the U.S. who colluded to impact on the outcome of our last election. This helps me to clarify what I value in my own culture and political system, and see more clearly what parts of our culture and political system need to be fixed. And I will celebrate my daughter-in-law, her family, and other friends who have emigrated from that region of the world.

 

20 Comments »

  1. Brilliant. There are bad players on both sides and they are more likely than not acting together, just like throughout the history. Good for you for seeing through it. I have never been to Russia (or any part of former Soviet Union) but I can see how gorgeous it is and would love to visit. (I’m from Slovenia, ex-Yugoslavia, living in Tuscany, Italy.) And I LoVE that fish on top.

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  2. Traveling into Palestine a few years ago, I was within earshot of a visitor who asked a local citizen, “Do you hate us Americans?” The Palestinian man answered “Most of us do not confuse the American people with their government. So, no, I do not.” No matter how one feels about THAT situation, it bears remembering when we look outside our borders as well. It’s usually not the _______ people (Russian or anyone else) we should shun or denounce when we are upset with their governments. (I loved my time in Russia; it has a deep, rich history and culture that I admire completely outside of the current political situation.)

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  3. I’d love to visit St Petersburg and share your respect for the culture. How sad it is in powerful people’s self-interest to cause problems and sow division. I talked to a Russian lady recently and asked whether ordinary people there fall for their leaders’ rhetoric any more than we fall for ours. She assured me that they do not.

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    • My daughter said that she would not travel in Russia at this time. When we were there she would give me cues not to speak and to cross the street when we came close to police. She felt a bolt of shock when she was in Switzerland, after her year in Russia, and walked passed the police station without feeling fear.

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  4. We are currently visiting Mexico. The people here are warm and friendly. Despite all of the horrible words and actions our government has vocalized and taken against their country, they realize that we Americans are not our government. In fact, I think they realize that those of us who visit south of the border are most likely not in enlightenment with this administration at all.

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    • We live close to the Canadian border and have Canadian citizens as neighbors when we are in Florida during the winter months. The Canadians recognize this, too. And of course we work hard to demonstrate that we are good people that they can trust.

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  5. I love Cees photo challenges! Wow. Beautiful! I want to invite you to my blog party! Feel free to drop your blog link and get to know other bloggers from around the world! Visit us and follow us for the posts at bloomsandbeautifuls.wordpress.com

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