Lately I have been perplexed by reading that a large percentage of the Russian population actually believes that Ukraine intends to attack Russia and more perplexing is that this way of thinking began before the war began over a year ago. Take for example this article that was published just nine days before the escalation of the war of Russian aggression began. The headline is a quote from one of their officials (Peskov) and reads, “If Ukrainians attack Russia, do not be surprised if we answer.” On the very same day (Feb 15, 2022), the chairman of the Russian envoy to the European Union (Vladimir Chizov – pictured on right) said the very same words in this article.
Simply said… that is messed up thinking!
With this type of propaganda being fed to the Russian people 24/7, can we blame them for believing the worst from their neighbors to the southwest? Actually, by now they should know better and here is why:
Logic should tell us that if somebody was going to war against a neighbor, they should have a pretty good reason to believe they will prevail.
Logic should tell us that if a country does not have the weapons needed to defend itself from attack, they likely will not have the weapons necessary to attack and prevail against a country that has more than three times its population and which has been building its modern war machine for many, many years.
Logic should tell us that if Ukraine has struggled to get the rest of the world to supply weapons needed to defend herself, Ukraine would have an even more difficult time convincing the west to supply them with weapons necessary to execute a war of aggression against Russia.
Logic would lead us to conclude the possibility of Ukraine attacking Russian is non-existent.
Despite this iron clad logic, there are still Russians who believe Ukraine could and will attack them at any moment. Because of this belief, many Russians believe that their war against Ukraine is justified. Yet we know the Russian people are not stupid, so how do we explain this anomaly?
The answer to the above question is that it starts in school. In the Russian culture, memory is emphasized over logic. A child might come home from school with a single-spaced, almost two-paged poem one day and go back to school the next day and recite the poem from memory. Additionally, school children in Russia are taught to regurgitate the information that has been given to them in class. The day before a test, a teacher will go over the exact questions that will be on the test the following day along with the anticipated answers. The children will go home and commit the questions and answers to their wonderfully developed memories. On the following day, the children take the test already knowing the questions and answers… all they have to do is write it all down on the test paper. Also, if the young person can’t remember what to write down, there is no panic – he simply looks at his desk-mate’s paper. In western schools, this is called cheating. In Russia, it is called helping. After all, “if you don’t do well in school, what’s the point.”
Having written all of the above, I want to be clear that having an educational system that emphasizes rote memory over logic does not mean that Russians are incapable of logic. It simply means that logic may not be their forte. Conversely, just because Americans are raised in an educational system that emphasizes logic over memory, it does not mean that they are incapable of remembering. These are generalizations to be sure.
Here is a real life example of a conversation I had in eastern Ukraine, which was and is the most russified part of Ukraine:
Ivan: Are the police in America corrupt?
Eric: Some are and some aren’t, but overall they are pretty good.
Ivan: Do people give them bribes… like maybe $50?
Eric: Well, I suppose that some do, but there is a lot of risk because there is so much to lose. Since you don’t know which cop is honest and which is not. I mean, on top of getting an expensive ticket, you could go to jail for attempted bribery.
Ivan: How could they prove that you attempted to bribe him?
Eric: Well, I suppose it might have to do with the piece of evidence you handed him. I mean he would have the $50 you gave him.
Ivan: Yes, but you could say, “That isn’t my $50. This cop is trying to frame me.”
Eric: I suppose that is possible, Ivan. But why would a cop spend $50 of his own money just to try and put someone in jail that he doesn’t even know or have a grudge against?
Ivan (stroking chin, looking up and shaking his head up and down): Hmmm… of course, American logic.
Eric Yodis has served through WorldVenture in Ukraine since 1995. After nineteen years in eastern Ukraine with his wife, Beth, they fled the war of Russian aggression in June 2014. Since 2015, they have lived in the Kyiv Oblast. They have once again been forced to evacuate due to the continuing war of Russian aggression against the peace loving people of Ukraine.
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