And What Might Save Us, Me And You, Is If The Russians Love Their Children Too

In the mid 1980’s, towards the beginning of his solo career [1], Sting released a hit single called “Russians” where he sought to distance himself from the bellicose rhetoric on both sides of the Cold War, and focus instead on the common humanity of the ordinary people in both the United States and Soviet Union. Sting had apparently seen Russian children’s television on Soviet satellite television [2] and had been impressed with the care that the Russians took towards a show designed for children. This gave him the intuitive insight that as Russians cared so much for their children that they were not going to likely to wish the destruction of those children by engaging in an aggressive war against the United States and its allies. Similarly, any Russian who would have seen American public television would have come to the same correct conclusion, and understood that whatever bellicosity existed in official political rhetoric, that the American people were not particularly hostile or aggressive to other nations. This also would have been a correct conclusion to draw from the evidence of the care and concern that most American families have for their children.

I have often found this insight to be difficult to convey to others. As an American who has traveled extensively abroad, I have found it troubling how often people are unable to distinguish between the United States as an imperial hegemon and Americans as friendly and sociable individuals. Frequently I have been subjected to harangues by people in other countries about American politics and especially American foreign policy, which I find particularly rude, and I have had to patiently endure the frustrations of others with the United States in terms of geopolitics and culture, concerns which I happen to share, but which I find it awkward and uncomfortable to talk about with foreigners, especially where language is a barrier and where I feel constrained to stand up for myself but also desiring of maintaining friendliness with those I am around (as I tend to feel awkward and uncomfortable with open conflict and disagreement and greatly prefer friendly and correct relations where possible). I have found the similar problem in the United States when dealing with people who brag incessantly about their home region as if it was a foreign country (this seems especially common for Texans, for example, a habit that greatly irks me).

The Russians during the mid-1980’s did love their children more than they loved their nation’s geopolitical position. For that we are all greatly fortunate, for as Russian young men were killed in Afghanistan and as Russia’s economic and political control over Eastern Europe crumbled, there was a brief moment when the Russians could have decided to trade their lives and their honor for one last destructive act against their enemies and their former subjects. In their restraint, their empire collapsed in a whimper, and they adjusted to a new reality. Russia’s present leadership may profit by the example, given that they have involved Russia in an immensely destructive war in Eastern Ukraine that has attracted a great deal of hostility from Western nations and forfeited a lot of the goodwill that Russia had worked hard to gain for many years [3]. Yet whatever the aggression of Russia’s political and military elites, one does not see in the Russian people themselves any great desire for foreign wars of empire nor any desire for aggressive war against Ukraine [4]. The Russians still love their children enough not to wish to waste them on aggressive hostility towards neighbors.

Most parents, in any country, have a great desire to protect their children from violence and harm. Indeed, the extent to which parents (and other authority figures) are genuinely concerned for the welfare of those under their responsibility can be seen by their avoidance of doing harm and abusing others as well as the efforts they will take to extricate themselves and those they care about from harm if it is at all possible. One example should suffice, although many could be chosen. A couple of acquaintances of mine left Mexico within the past couple of years or so for the United States due to the drug-related violence engulfing their home area. As they were attractive, well-educated, and well-off (they have since found good jobs and husbands in Texas) they did not face the sorts of difficulties most people do upon leaving one country for another. That said, although they left as educated young adults in their 20’s, their parents still gave them the encouragement and support they needed to be safe, and as far away from drug violence as possible, even as those parents stayed for their own reasons. Other parents have undertaken heroic journeys in an attempt to escape intolerable situations for their children that they may well have endured had it been themselves alone dealing with the situation.

I have long noted this tendency within myself as well, and suspect there is some larger importance in it. To be a great man (or a great woman) requires taking action for the benefit of others (including future generations) that may be extremely difficult or unpopular or that may require a lot of self-sacrifice. One’s motivations may be questioned, and one may never get the respect or regard or rewards one feels one might deserve for doing the hard thing that is also the right thing this side of the Kingdom of Heaven. It is often pointed out that men tend to live much longer and better when they have a happy family life than they do when they are alone. While I know little about a happy family life except from my observation of others, it is possible to deduce why this is the case. Men can be incredibly selfish people when living for themselves and their own selfish interests. Resources of time, money, and attention can be spent on frivolous and dangerous activities like fast cars, fast women, and drugs and alcohol. Even men who are able to avoid these evils and the dangers they bring find little reason to live in such a way as would ensure a long and happy life if there is no one to live it for. And so having a wife and family helps give a man a reason to sacrifice and an end to direct his energies to that benefits the family and (by extension) the wider society. Men (and women) with love and tender affection for their own little ones will not risk those little ones and the safety of their homes on reckless and hostile foreign aggression, whatever their background. Even in such dangerous times as these, what might save us, me and you, is if the Russians (and everybody else) love their children too. We simply cannot be safe in a world without outgoing love.

[1] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-sting/

[2] See, for example:

http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/187070/Sting-s-Russians-was-inspired-by-illegal-satellite-viewings

[3] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/03/03/trapped-in-a-cul-de-sac-of-our-own-making/

[4] See, for example:

http://rt.com/politics/182860-russia-ukraine-civil-poll/

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/05/vladimir-putin-russians-dying-ukraine

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Christianity, History, International Relations, Love & Marriage, Music History, Musings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to And What Might Save Us, Me And You, Is If The Russians Love Their Children Too

  1. capnhollis says:

    Reasoning that an individual is exactly the same as the society (and its government) is a fallacy by division. For example, having a democratic president doesn’t mean everyone in the US is a democrat. On the other hand, governments, societies, and other cultural groupings tend to channel information (call it propaganda if you will) in a holistic manner which causes the general public of any society (social grouping) to form a universal opinion about other societies.

    Hopefully that makes sense…have a head cold and suffered a concussion recently. Thus, my head is foggy…well, foggier than usual…

    • I hope you feel better soon, those concussions can be nasty business. Yes, indeed part of my discussion was about the way in which it is unfair (and illogical) to judge people by the behavior of their (possibly unrepresentative) governments. I think as people too we tend to be more comfortable with narratives than isolated facts, and narratives by their nature are holhistic in fashion.

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