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Τρίτη, 17 Ιανουαρίου 2017

THE RELIGIOUS ROOTS OF RUSSIA’S MISTRUST TOWARD THE WEST








THE RELIGIOUS ROOTS OF RUSSIA’S
MISTRUST TOWARD THE WEST
by Damir Marinovich

Dear People,

            There is a lot of Putin and Russian bashing in the West today because most people in the Western world fail to understand that the people of Russia are just like the rest of the human race. The Russian families also desire peace, prosperity, life, health and the freedom to worship God as they so desire.  Americans and many people in Western Europe cannot understand that the USSR has been sent into oblivion along with the despots that attempted to destroy that Christian country.  What is aggravating the West’s relationship with Russia is the American neo cons in Washington who want to perpetuate war so that the industrial/military complex of America can continue to make big profits. 

            I have spent a lot of time during the last two years following the political developments throughout the world.   I have been getting my news from four critical sources in the Eastern part of the world: Russia Insider, Russia Today (Russia), Pentapostagma (Greece), and Jewish Press (Israel).  These news sources seem to balance out what we see and hear from BBC, CNN, MBC, FOX and ABC.  We Americans have been brainwashed into believing that the whole world should be led by America.  We seem to filter out the value systems that are prevalent in other cultures and societies.   Well, my friends, Russia is not our enemy as it is constantly portrayed to us by our politicians in the West.  Russia is our partner in life that is uniquely equipped spiritually, culturally and militarily to help humanity create a world of security and peace. 

            I wish to share with you the following articles from people in Europe and Russia who look at the world’s geopolitical problems from a different perspective from the way that our politicians look at them. The person who has written extensively about the differences between the West and the East is Alexander Solzhenitsyn.  The first short article that follows is something that he wrote recently about how he looks at society and man’s relationship with God.   The second longer article of Solzhenitsyn was written when he was living in exile in America in 1978.   It is taken from a message that he gave to the graduating class at Harvard on Thursday, June 8, 1978.   The recent article that he wrote is as follows: 
            “Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disaster that had befallen Russia: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”   Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval.  But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this happened.”          

THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE RECENTLY APPEARED
IN RUSSIA INSIDER

            “Russian identity has a deeper anti-Western sentiment than implied by the recent rise of anti-Western sentiment among Russians, primarily caused by what is perceived as US and NATO aggression.   So what is one of the main causes of Russia’s historical mistrust towards the West?

            For centuries, the Vatican tried to convert Russian Orthodox Christians to Catholicism.  They succeeded in doing so with Orthodox Christians in the Western Ukraine and in parts of the Western Balkans.  Even today, the Vatican is trying to “achieve union with Orthodox Christians,” of course under the primacy of the Pope. 

            Foreign invaders—the Vatican together with Swedish and Polish forces, Napoleon, Hitler and NATO—were seen as violent symbols of Western civilization.  However, Russian identity is not formed as a reaction or historical reflex to Western expansionism.  In its nature, Russian culture is not anti-Western or based on antagonism towards foreign civilizations or concepts.  

            Many Russians would argue that Russian identity belongs to a different civilization “code” as a successor of the great Byzantine tradition and civilization.  That’s the reason the Russian Empire was for centuries considered the Third Rome. The Orthodox civilization differs from its Western counterpart in terms of values, tradition, and so on.

            Just read Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations.  Huntington claims that people’s cultural and religious identities will be the primary source of conflict in the post-Cold War world.  Many would argue that this is exactly what is happening in today’s world.  Most of the recent conflicts have either religious or cultural causes.  In addition, bloody civil wars in the Balkans and now in the Ukraine have had strong religious and cultural dimensions to them.            Let us not forget that many American and European Christian conservatives support Putin because of his Christian vision and pro-family values.  Maybe they are fed up with their own government’s openly anti-Christian and anti-family approach to social issues.”

             You can compare this contemporary statement from a European with the following that was written by Alexander Solzhenitsyn some thirty-eight years ago. The following comments by Solzhenitsyn were made to the class of 1978 graduating from Harvard University.   You will see from what Solzhenitsyn said back then that the situation in the world has not changed and if anything it has gotten worse.   He speaks to us very clearly about the divisions that separate the great powers of the Western world (America) and the Eastern world (Russia).   He tells us:

            “The split in today’s world is perceptible even with a hasty glance.   Any of the contemporaries readily identify two world powers, each of them already capable of entirely destroying the other.  However, an understanding of the split often is limited to this political conception, to the illusion that the danger may be abolished through successful diplomatic negotiations or by achieving a balance of armed forces.  The truth is that the split is a much profounder and a more alienating one, the rifts are more than one can see at first glance.  This deep manifold split bears the danger of profound disaster for all of us, in accordance with the ancient truth that a Kingdom—in this case, our Earth—divided against itself cannot stand.

            “I have spent all my life under a communist regime and I will tell you that a society without any objective legal scale is a terrible one indeed.  But a society with no other scale but the legal one is not quite worthy of man either.  A society which is based on the letter of the law and never reaches any higher is taking very scarce advantage of the high level of human possibilities.  The letter of the law is too cold and formal to have a beneficial influence on society.  Whenever the tissue of life is woven by legalistic relations, there is an atmosphere of moral mediocrity, paralyzing man’s noblest impulses.   And it will be simply impossible to stand through the trials of this threatening century with only the support of a legalistic structure.

            “It is feasible and easy everywhere to undermine administrative power and, in fact, it has been drastically weakened in all Western countries.  The defense of individual rights has reached such extremes as to make society as a whole defenseless against certain individuals.  It is time, in the West, to defend not so much human rights but human obligations.

            “Destructive and irresponsible freedom has been granted boundless space.  Society appears to have little defense against the abyss of human decadence, such as, for example, misuse of liberty for moral violence against young people, motion pictures full of pornography, crime and horror.  It is considered to be part of freedom and theoretically counter-balanced by the young people’s right to either not look or not to accept.  Life organized legalistically has thus shown its inability to defend itself against the corrosion of evil.

            “Such a tilt of freedom in the direction of evil has come about gradually but it was evidently born primarily out of a humanistic and benevolent concept according to which there is no evil inherent in human nature; the world belongs to mankind and all the defects of life are caused by the wrong social systems which must be corrected.  Strangely enough, though the best social conditions have been achieved in the West, there is still criminality and there even is considerably more of it than in the pauper and lawless Soviet society. 

            “But should someone ask me whether I would choose the West as it is today as a model for my country, frankly I would have to answer negatively.  No, I could not recommend your society in its present state as an ideal for the transformation of ours.  Through intense suffering our country has now achieved a spiritual development of such intensity that the Western system in its present state of spiritual exhaustion does not look attractive.  Even those characteristics of your life which I have just mentioned are extremely saddening.

            “A fact which cannot be disputed is the weakening of human beings in the West while in the East they are becoming firmer and stronger.  Six decades for our people and three decades for the people of Eastern Europe; during that time we have been through a spiritual training far in advance of the Western experience.  Life’s complexity and moral weight have produced stronger, deeper and more interesting characters than those produced by standardized Western well-being.  Therefore if our society were to be transformed into yours, it would mean an improvement in certain aspects, but also a change for the worse on some particularly significant scores.  It is true, no doubt, that a society cannot remain in an abyss of lawlessness, as is the case of our country.  But it is demeaning for it to elect such mechanical legalistic smoothness as you have.  After the suffering of decades of violence and oppression, the human soul longs for things higher, warmer and purer than those offered by today’s mass living habits, introduced by the revolting invasion of publicity, by TV stupor and by intolerable music.   All this is visible to observers from throughout the world.  The Western way of life is less and less likely to become the leading model for all humanity.

            “There are meaningful warnings that history gives to a threatened or perishing society.  Such are, for instance, the decadence of art, or a lack of great statesmen.  There are open and evident warnings, too.  The center of your democracy and of your culture is left without electric power for a few hours, and all of a sudden crowds of American citizens start looting and creating havoc.  The smooth surface of civility must be very thin, and the social system quite unstable and unhealthy.  But in the fight for our planet, physical and spiritual, a fight of cosmic proportions is not a vague matter of the future; it has already started.  The forces of evil have begun their decisive offensive, you can feel their pressure, and yet your screens and publications are full of prescribed smiles and raised glasses.  What is the joy about?

            “And yet—not weapons, no matter how powerful, can help the West until it overcomes its loss of willpower.  In a state of psychological weakness, weapons become a burden for the capitulating side.  To defend oneself, one must also be ready to die; there is little such readiness in a society raised in the cult of material well-being.  Nothing is left, then, but concessions, attempts to gain time and betrayal.
           
            “How has this unfavorable relationship of forces come about?  How did the West decline from its triumphal march to its present sickness?  Have there been fatal turns and losses of direction in its development?  It does not seem so.  The West kept advancing socially in accordance with its proclaimed intentions, with the help of brilliant technological progress.  And all of a sudden it found itself in its present state of weakness.

            “This means that the mistake must be at the root, at the very basis of human thinking in the past centuries.  I refer to the prevailing Western view of the world which was first born during the Renaissance and found its political expression from the period of the Enlightenment.  It became the basis for government and social science and could be defined as rationalistic humanism or humanistic autonomy: the proclaimed and enforced autonomy of man from any higher force above him.  It could also be called anthropocentricity, with man seen as the center of everything that exists.

            “The turn introduced by the Renaissance evidently was inevitable historically.  The Middle Ages had come to a natural end by exhaustion, becoming an intolerable despotic repression of man’s physical nature in favor of the spiritual one.  Then, however, we turned our backs upon the Spirit and embraced all that is material with excessive and unwarranted zeal.  This new way of thinking, which had imposed its guidance on us, did not admit the existence of intrinsic evil in man nor did it see any higher task than the attainment of happiness on earth.  It based Western civilization on the dangerous trend to worship man and his material needs.  Everything beyond physical well-being and accumulation of material goods, all other human requirements and characteristics of a subtler and higher nature, were left outside the area of attention of state and social systems, as if human life did not have any superior sense.  That provided access for evil, of which in our days there is a free and constant flow.  Absolute freedom does not in the least solve all the problems of human life and it even adds a number of new ones. 

            “However, in early democracies, as in American democracy at the time of its birth, all individual human rights were granted because man is God’s creature.  That is, freedom was given to the individual conditionally, in the assumption of his constant religious responsibility.  Such was the heritage of the preceding thousand years.   Two hundred years ago it would have seemed quite impossible, in America, that an individual could be granted boundless freedom simply for the satisfaction of his instincts or whims.  Subsequently, however, all such limitations were discarded everywhere in the West; a total liberation occurred from the moral heritage of Christian centuries with their great reserves of mercy and sacrifice.  State systems were becoming increasingly and totally materialistic.   The West ended up by enforcing human rights, sometimes even excessively, but man’s sense of responsibility to God and society grew dimmer and dimmer.  In the past decades, the legalistically selfish aspect of the Western approach and thinking had reached its final dimension and the world wound up in a harsh spiritual crisis and a political impasse.  All the glorified technological achievements of progress, including the conquest of space, do not redeem the twentieth century’s moral poverty which no one could imagine even as late as in the nineteenth century. 

            I am not examining here the case of a world war disaster and the changes which it would produce in society.  As long as we wake up every morning under a peaceful sun, we have to lead an everyday life.  There is a disaster, however, which has already been under way for quite some time.  I am referring to the calamity of a de-spiritualized and irreligious humanistic consciousness.” 

Compiled and edited by:
+Fr. Constantine J. Simones, Waterford, CT. USA, January 11, 2016,cjsimones300@gmail.com

                


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