I strongly believe that there are Muslims in United States, who got truly integrated into American society, who accepted American values, American Constitution, American law. I have never believed that word “Muslim” might be equal to the word “terrorist”. I have never automatically associated Muslims with terrorism. But I am agianst emotions in politics. I do not believe politicians who play on people’s emotions. It reminds me of a kind of emotional blackmail, emotional sabotage. There is something dishonest in ostentatious expressing emotions by politicians. At once one may suspect them of PR tricks. Even though I must confess that the Mohammed Salman Hamdani’s story is really moving, but I am not politician, I have a right to display my emotions, I do not attend at a serious public debate. I think that ordinary people, ordinary citizens have more rights in this field. Politicans on hearings, participiating in this kind of public debates, do not have such a right. They are obliged to argue, to present their views in sensible, logic, extremely cold way. Emotions in such cases make debate useless, dishonest and a kind of a show, they do not lead to truth, which may be accepted by all participants.
40 kilometres and 30 minutes drive from the busy downtown, road across the boreal forest of majestic, soaring pines and firs, all covered with thick layer of snow. I can’t imagine a week without a trip to this primeval forest. It is one of these places, where you are not able to believe that God does not exist. Silence, mystery, beauty and emotion, intuition that He is.
But the outskirts of the forest are not less mysterious and beautiful. When you add to all of these melancholic fado flowing slowly from the car speakers and interviewd fado singer Mariza talking about her love of journeys and Portuguese melancholy, it gets just real wonder!
to be continued…
Today I came across an interesting article by Amy Knight on Russia and North Caucasus. And since I have been working with refugees from that part of the world I resolved to write a short comment on this topic:
I have been working with refugees from Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia since July 2006 and met among them many people, who have never supported terrorist attacks. They just look for peace and possibility of normal life.
The problem of North Caucasus poses not only high rate of unemployment, so called “zachistki”(sweep operations), murders, but also illegal apprehensions, rapes, tortures, extremely interrogations. This is everydal life in North Caucasus. Ramzan Kadyrov obtained from Vladimir Putin cart balnche and can do all what he wishes. If he or his people will like a girl, the just take her, if they want to shoot to women who do not wear headscarves, they just do it.
Pushing Chechens, Dagestani or Ingush people towards terrorism – in my opinion – has two reasons: strategic interests of Russian government in North Caucasus and lack of interest of the Western World in this part of the world.
Let’s recall the first and the beginning of the second of the so called Chechen – Russian wars. Chechens fought for independent country, they even had a democratic, secular constitution. In the second war Aslan Maschadov was a moderate, relatively liberal president, who also fought for independence, not for muslim state. But the second world is much more pereceived as a war for Emirate of North Caucasus. Fundamentalist muslims started appearing in Chechnya, common people got to radicalize. It is no wonder. Each long, cruel war must demoralize and change people to the worse. Chechens got disappointed with Western World, they counted that this mytical Western World would support them, not in military way (even though some might have thought that even in a military way), but mainly with political measures. But id did not happen so. They felt abandoned by democratic world, international community and turned to the muslim fundamentalists. And fundamentalists understood that situation very well, they just waited for such course of the events.
I have no idea what may be the way to untie that real Gordian Knot. Addressing of unemployment, poverty may be not enough. As long as there are fighters in mountains and woods, “zachistki”, murders, tortures, illegal apprehensions will continue. It is not enough to give these people employment and money, there are young men who support muslim fighrers because of religious reasons and , whom you just cannot buy. And we should remember thar so many evil happned in North Caucasus and continues to happen that “blood revenge” so strongly rooted in Chechen society may never have an end. I hope I am mistaken.
Gentle, melancholic music flowing from the car’s speakers, it is Lura, straight from Portugal and Cape Verde at the same time. It is thousands miles away, but I feel as if this music were rooted here, in all these landscapes, I am passing by. It harmonizes so perfectly with all melancholy hidden in all these hills, groves, forests, fields and villages.
About 10 years ago I read “Heban” by Ryszard Kapuscinski. He wrote about his journeys to Africa, and I remembered perfectly one of the stories from this book, when author met on the bus an African, young male, silent and shy person. They started speaking, and that guy told Kapuscinski story of his melancholy, maybe even light depression. And his descrpition was done in such common, universal language (in sense of the meaning), that we at once realize – in the same way we could describe our emotional states, our existential experience, in Europe, in United States, and probably everywhere in the world. It was the langauage of our common fate, of our common human experience. One of the most beautiful messages of that fragment is that in our deepest emotions, thoughts, psychic states and our fate we are the same, and there are always things, which unite and bind us.
The same thing I felt while driving the car, contemplating all these melancholic landscapes and listening Lura’s music.
Even a walk to the shop may be a journey, spiritual journey of course.
One Saturday autumn afternoon, we set out to the countryside, north of Bialystok. It is only 30 minutes’ drive from the downtown, and we set off to to see all these melancholic, beautiful landscapes – gentle, small green hills; yellow, green, red and brown pine, fir, birch and larch groves; cozy and picturesque villages with their tiny wooden houses, and gentle autumn sun.
I hope you will forgive me this truism, but in such beauty one gets sure that God exists. In every kind of beauty.
Today I came across an interesting article – “Why western authors are in love with Mother Russia” by Andrew Miller, and resolved to write a comment below it, including my private and modest ideas concerning Russian literature:
A few years ago I read about one of my favourite Russian writers, that “he was closest to the truth about human being”. This sentence concerned Fiodor Dostoyevsky. And it is impossible to disagree with this statement, when one reads “Idiot” or “Crime and punishment”. In every of these books one is able to find himself/herself, to identify with some characteres. When I read Dostoyevsky or Turgeneiv I read it with all my nerves, it is not just work of the mind, but work of my whole being (my soul, my mind and body).
That is why I agree with following Author’s statement:
“Writers born elsewhere tend to be captivated first by the grandeur and reckless honesty of the great Russian authors (…)”
Russian writers do possess not only “reckless honesty”, but also – sometimes even heroic – courage to tell truth about human being’s nature. It is a kind of civil courage, which so often Western writers lack, with exception of Joseph Conrad, C.S. Lewis, or Jack London. They do not hide truth behind the curtian of courtesy, social conventions or political corectness. They show it with all its pain, suffering, ugliness, so that we get fed up with our reality, and do not see another possibility, apart from changing our inner, spiritual world.
With regard to another Author’s statement:
“Nick, my narrator, is sucked into Moscow during its greedy, oil-fuelled boom. He only finds out what sort of man he can be, perhaps has always been, when he lives in Russia.”
I think that in Russia we may feel in some sense “naked”, it is still a state, where one can feel as “pure”, “naked”, “raw”, “defenseless”, as it is only possible, where state, law, authority, social conventions do not prevent him/her from all evil human instincts existing in all human beings. In Russia there is a bare human being standing opposite omnipotent authority, simple people opposite corrupt officials or oligarchs. In such milieu all human stances, all human behaviours are sharper, more visible, distinguishable. If you are courageous, you are much more courageous than in Western countries. What is the price of courage in Great Britian, or Germany and what is the price of courage in Russia? You can answer this question, when you take into consideration, fate of such persons as Anna Politkovskaya, Natasha Estemirova, Nastia Baburova, Litvinenko, Chodorkovsky.
In Russia you have much better and more occasions to be decent or wicked, and when you decide to be decent you have much more to lose, than when you decide to be decent in France.
In other words, I think that in Russia, a person have much more possibilities to be more human, to be more real and true, than in other parts of Europe. And no wonder, that in such reality, great literature appears…
Road form Ponikla to Kopisk in Knyszynska Forest.
Road to Rybniki.
When on one sunny and warm April day I travelled by bike across Knyszynska Forest, a thought came to my mind, that all those places are proper to be here almsot all the time, especially when I have to be in town, in office, and any other place, where there is no space, no green, no sense of freedom. Honey yellow or amber yellow trunks of the soaring pines looking like towers of medieval gothic cathedrals reaching to clear blue sky, lush green moss, and all permeating the atmosphere of mystery…
Through the eyes of imagination I see Great Prince of Lithuania -Vytautas hunting somewhere here in the first half of the 15th century.
It is only 20 kilometres from my home in the downtown of Bialystok!