Sorting out our stake in the planet
The 2014 election is over, and the results are in. Candidates and this newspaper have, for the past weeks, been calling for you as a citizen to exercise your responsibility to vote. Now it is time to work with those who have been chosen.
The voices encouraging your involvement in our government are not as loud and constant after your ballot has been cast, but the need is just as urgent.
In an article written by Mikhail Shishkin, one of the top literary figures in Russia today, he discusses the difference between our country and Russia. He says, ‘The formula for saving any dictatorship is universal: create an enemy, start a war.’ The desired world view formed ‘by Putin’s propaganda and acknowledged lies is: Ukrainian fascists wage a war to annihilate the Russian world on orders from the west.’ ‘The Russian nation participates in the lies because it is afraid of the government. The lies are a means of survival for a society built on violence and fear. Russians have a proverb: beat your own so the others fear you … Putin knows the difference between the power he enjoys and the power of European democracies. Democratic governments are liable to their electorate for the people and their future whereas under a dictatorship, one is only liable to follow orders … Putin knows that the west cannot cross the red line that he himself has long crossed and left behind. The red line is the willingness to go to war.’
This is pretty scary stuff and to think that it was written by a much-respected living Russian writer. Maybe there is hope that this attempt to control and create what Shishkin labels ‘post-war Europe into pre-war Europe’ is stymied by individual Russians as well as whole nations who are willing to think, stand up and take action.
What, you may ask, does this have to do with our own involvement in county, state and national governmental affairs? Putin-type tyranny only works if, to quote Shishkin again, ‘A nation in patriotic ecstasy becomes one with its ‘national leader,’ while any dissenters can be declared ‘national traitors’.’ We must be the informed watchdogs of the elected officials that represent us.
The question as to who is responsible for directing and serving the citizenry is complex. In addition, a question can be asked as to what defines our boundaries in the 21st century, be they geographic, nationalistic or economic. We hear that terrorists identify with a cause, not necessarily a specific country. They jump over established national borders, evading government control. In the economics of a global economy, we know that stock markets react immediately to a crisis or upturn in a single distant nation. Remember the concern that, if small Scotland had voted independence from the United Kingdom, the European Union would have been greatly weakened.
Even a financial crisis within a single huge international business can set the stock markets rattling.
In health matters, we read of the worries that travel and humanitarian aid efforts can spread the Ebola epidemic beyond Africa. John Muir was right when he said, ‘We all live in a house of one room.’
Given the global interconnection of our world today and the dire need to understand others, it is particularly worrisome that Putin has recently decided to end participation in an exchange program that has existed between Russian and United States high school students for 21 years. This withdrawal into the seclusion of ‘Mother Russia’ as the sole worthy power in the universe is a frightening step.
The small country of Moldova is nestled up against the Ukraine. While visiting there recently, I asked various people if they discussed the current actions by Russia. Most of them confessed that they were worried but felt helpless to do anything about it. One friend said, ‘We are a peaceful people, and we pray that God will not allow them to invade us.’
I certainly believe in the power of prayer, but I think we are supposed to do our part to affect desired results.
It is such a human temptation to shift our attention to the most recent upheaval or crisis, leaving old troubles unattended. We just wish the unjust actions would go away and would end with no long-term consequences.
No country wants to begin military actions. No country wants to limit its trade opportunities. No country wants to cut off diplomatic relations with countries that do not pose a direct threat. We just wish that the good in man would prevail and we could all go back to thinking and doing that which is happy and self-fulfilling.
The world is in the midst of one big, disturbing shake-up right now, and it is na’ve to think it will all come out all right if we just sit back and wait. We ‘ we here in Southern Indiana ‘ have a stake in the activities of the planet, and we better get informed, discuss and get involved locally, as well in the ever-expanding world around us.