• Posted: May 27, 2014 23:48:34
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Vladimir Putin gave a dinner for international news agency editors this past Saturday in St. Petersburg, Russia, during which he spoke and answered questions for nearly three hours. Per Paul Ingrassia for Reuters, something reiterated numerous times within Mr. Putin's responses were his "bitter aggrievement", taken quite personally, with the West's continuous dismissal of Russia, its people, its economy, and its leadership as "second-tier". Referring to President Obama's denunciation of Russia's annexation of Crimea, Mr. Putin irritatedly declared, "No one should talk like that to Russia".
Yes, while acknowledging "You cannot make other people like you", one does get the feeling Mr. Putin desires a bit more respect than he's been receiving lately. But the plain facts are that aside from brokering a deal with Syria's Assad to get rid of Syria's chemical weapons, a deal which now seems broken, putting on a safe, beautiful, and enjoyable, though slushy Olympics, reliably servicing the International Space Station, and the newly inked contract to supply China with natural gas, which should help China wean itself off coal, there is not a whole lot to respect of late. Russia has been more obstructionist than anything else within the U.N. It helps prop up brutal dictators, Syria in particular. It gives sanctuary to international criminals. It bullies, extorts, and aggresses upon countries that used to be Soviet. It crushes, and has even murdered members of, it's own free press. It regularly jails dissidents. Russian elections are gerrymandered. And it's economy is the most corrupt on the planet. What of sustaining substance is there to respect, Mr. Putin??
There are countless Russians throughout history to admire. But you, sir, so far, are not one of them. Instead, on average, you are perceived to have the dubious international persona of a cretinous thug.
What might you do to enhance your coolness? In this writer's humble opinion, more amnesty for dissidents and personally revealing press conferences, discussions, and debates would help. But also, relative to both domestic and international relations, I'd suggest learning to play chess, a fine Russian pastime, to draw. Yes, to draw, I say, because to win or lose chess is a zero-sum game, fodder for resentment, rebellion, and a socially callus survival of the fittest mentality. By contrast, to draw, or rather to insightful challenge, breeds mutual respect and comradeship, just the stuff that helps grow peace and prosperity for all. That, in my opinion, would be cool.
Something else? Try reading Chekhov's short stories. Most challenge our understanding of human nature. There is one I find particularly fascinating about a successful middle-class couple who decide to build a home in a bucolic rural district. Though the couple are open, inviting, and generous to the poorer town's people surrounding them, the town rejects them and they eventually abandon their home and return to the city. However, after they are gone, the town's people bemoan their leaving. I suggest you try unraveling that little can of worms and engineering a different outcome. Usable, workable, transferrable ideas toward easing the accommodation of class, ethnic, and cultural differences between peoples would go a long way toward solving a great many of our world's problems. At the same time, by my guess, you'd see the respect and admiration you receive from others inch up. Stoking, coddling, and feeding the flames of conflict, or obstructing efforts to quell them, will never do that.
Personally, I'd like to see you admired for your cool, insightful, constructive contributions to world peace and prosperity. But where are they?
Personally, I'd like to see you worthy of tooling around in a car like the one above, bringing smiles and waves from bystanders who know and appreciate what you've done. But, as things stand now, I rather think you'd be more likely to garner derisive sneers and jeers for attempting to appear cool when you really aren't.
My opinion, anyway.
Monday, January 20th, 2014
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