The clouds and stars all look the same. The people do, too. Sometimes I forget I'm in a foreign country.
Recent developments in Ukraine have been a bit mentally consuming, to be honest. I forever want to talk about it with people, yet often it feels invasive to talk about it with some, and isolating with others. I don't want to force my views on anyone. I want to collect the thoughts of others and absorb them like a sponge, and process them. See if they align with my instincts. My instincts tell me something's just not right.
Let me break it down a little and see if I make any sense. It's a kaleidoscope of thoughts whirling in my brain. This is probably a good idea, writing it all down for a change.
I feel like there is so much puppetry going on. Left and right, east and west. And now, with there being a possibility of war breaking out just a few miles south of me, it makes me wonder how we got here in the first place. It feels almost...perfect, like it was all part of someone's plan. There has always been tension between Russia and the States, and it has started to gain momentum in the most recent years, appealing to the younger and more liberal crowd. The law banning LGBT propaganda is not something I agree with, of course I don't agree with it, as it's one step backward for a society that still has a long way to go in understanding what homosexuality is. But ah, a perfect bandwagon to jump on, especially for politicians looking to appeal to the steadfast growing number of those in favor of gay rights. It's a huge topic in the States, gays are finally having their say, but these politicians are wrapping themselves in a rainbow cloak and using their cause just to gain more momentum in fueling that tension. You don't see them at pride rallies or state court hearings or any organized events that are widely publicized as banned in Russia. Obama not attending the Olympics in Sochi was a complete joke in my book, cowardice and immature. If he truly gave a damn about LBGT rights, he would've been there supporting his team come rain or come shine, not sinking down to the stupid level and breaching the message of love and acceptance.
The media is its own separate beast, and I'm having a hard time finding a source I can feel good about reading and quoting to someone later. Journalism has become so out of touch with reality that who knows what is actually real anymore. Western sites like The Guardian and most American media will take any shots they can to sling a pile of mud at Russia, knowing fully well that most of their audience will take what they say without reading between the lines. My most favorite example of this was during the Olympics when some NY-based Greek yogurt company thought it would be a good idea to ship a bunch of dairy products overseas to a country with very different rules and expect no repercussions when said products couldn't pass customs. Journalists pounced on that one, headlines read shit like "Russia won't allow the U.S. athletes to receive their Chobani yogurt." Blame Russia. Those mean, dirty Russians. I'm surprised I haven't found any cleverly stated headline blaming Russia for the U.S. not winning the most gold medals, indirectly.
I'm ranting. Let's move on.
Ukraine is a soft, sore subject for me because I fell in love with that place last summer when I worked outside Kiev for a couple of months. The children were just phenomenal, words can't describe how each day I dreaded the last day looming nearer. They made me laugh so much. I had one foot out the door of teaching English before I took that job, it was a total game-changer, meeting those wide-eyed innocent and talented kids. And the hours of spare time spent wandering Kiev was both alluring and entertaining. It was one of the most eccentric places I've ever been to. The people were so odd and interesting. I saw a few cases of strange, uncivilized behavior, but nothing to feel threatened over, usually just made for a good laugh. When I left Ukraine, I took the overnight train from Lvov to Krakow. I remember watching the woman in the bed below us bribe the border patrol by stuffing herevnia in his pocket so that she could get into Poland and sell her looted goods. The Polish patrol wouldn't accept her bribe and eventually kicked her off the train (which somehow she managed to get back on it later in the journey, but don't ask me how).
Now Ukraine is an absolute mess. We've all seen in unfold on the news and through people's accounts. I got pretty upset last week just thinking about those kids and what they must be going through, I never had to walk outside and see my city on fire. No child should have to lose any of their innocence that way. Those kids at camp, they spoke Ukrainian and Russian and English and all got along just fine. It's when you're older that you're supposed to draw lines in the sand and throw grenades at each other. That's the seeming rite of passage. Babies aren't born racist or sexist or elitist, they're all born pure and innocent and completely full of love and acceptance. But instead, they're learning from us, and learning how to hate.
Now Russia's involved, and I can't help but feel like this was all part of the plan. The West is ready to shun Russia and back out of the G-8 summit, and put Putin in his corner with a dunce cap. That'll show him for being so anti-gay, that'll show him for being the most powerful man on the planet according to Forbes magazine, "You can't piss farther than me!" says Obama. I don't consider his troops in Crimea to be an invasion when he's allowed to be there by treaty. How many times has the U.S. intervened in places we had no business being in? Everyone seems so silent about that now. I think this whole world is run by a bunch of hypocrites with their hands in puppet sleeves. Ukraine's new "government"--who the fuck are these people? Who voted them in? What kind of message does this send to those kids, that violence which overturns a government thus gives you power? There's no good guy here, and I'm not claiming Yanukovich is some saint because he's not, he's a coward and foolish. Ugh, I could go on, but it's nearly 3 am.
In closing, I've received some messages from folks wondering how I'm doing over here in a "war zone," and first, my heartfelt thanks, for thinking of me and extending your love. That means the most. I'm doing fine, anticipating an interesting day at work tomorrow when packs of eager students will be full of questions about what I think of all this, American living in Russia with emotional ties to Ukraine. I'm in limbo to be honest, politically and emotionally. But I'm doing well. Please be careful what you read, don't believe everything at first glance. Read it, ponder it, check it. And consider that while the Russian mind and American mind are quite different, they function just the same and want the same things, for themselves and for the people around them. This isn't a good vs. evil situation. If that makes me a fool, then so be it. I'd rather be a fool with an open mind and a hunger for peace than close-minded and shut off to the idea of actual change.
What the fuck are we waiting for? Clock is ticking ya'll.