Many are naturally perplexed at the events in Ukraine over the past few days. What motivates Vladimir Putin to invade Russia’s neighbor, Ukraine, and what motivates some mis-guided Americans to support these murderous actions?
At the risk of over-simplifying and for the purposes of this discussion only, let’s divide humanity into two opposing camps, those who believe in the possibility of a better world and those who don’t. Let’s call them what they are, optimists and pessimists.
For the pessimists, every instance of bad behavior is further evidence that the world will never change. Better, they say, to sneer at optimism and to characterize positive initiatives as silly and childish. For the pessimists of the world, the ends justify the means. Might makes Right. They see scout troops singing a song of unity around a campfire, and they ridicule them and call them naïve.
Adolph Hitler was a pessimist. So is Vladimir Putin. So is any would be dictator who believes his or her own press clippings and thinks they have all the answers and that they are, for all practical purposes, infallible. A person of this type, might, for instance, refuse to admit that he lost an election.
For the purposes of this discussion, the pessimists are not few. They are many, and their generally sunny disposition and jocular demeanor tends to disguise them. They tend to attract a following, a bunch of like-minded individuals who are looking for a hero to worship.
Prior to this invasion, Putin enjoyed very high approval rating in Russia, much higher than an American president could expect. On National Public Radio (NPR), This American Life, yesterday, Sunday February 27, a reporter, Charles Maynes interviewed a Russian woman who loves and defends him. The Russians despise Putin’s predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, because, at the time, the economy was bad and there were shortages and hardships. The economy is better now, because of oil revenues and having very little to do with Putin himself. The average Russian enjoys an improved lifestyle, and they give Putin the credit without good reasons.
Proposed: Let’s shun the politics that are driven by a personality cult.