Who doesn’t love Norway? Ok, I admit… I know very little about Norway. The Vikings came from there. So clearly, they have a maritine tradition. This wonderful map card comes from Gabriela, who declares Norway to be the “Land of the Midnight Sun.” The country is also described as wild and rough. Vikings anyone?
*DISCLAIMER* The writings on this blog, are just like… uh… well you know… my opinions, man.
I would be remiss if I didn’t start by saying what a horrible tragedy the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 is. My heart goes out to all of the victims.
The time has come to ask ourselves a tough question. Do we want ultimate justice, that right and wrong be enforced each and every time, or is living in peace and harmony, in a world that is mostly just, better than a rigid code of enforcement?
I ask this in regard to the tragedy that is Ukraine.
We all know a Malaysian Airlines jet was shot down. Most of us strongly believe, that Russian backed separatists mistakenly shot down the plane. Others have other beliefs. Right now I am starting to wonder if what we believe is more important, or if coming to a solution that allows all of us to live in peace and harmony is actually the key.
What the fuck am I talking about? Well, let’s look at this case by case.
First, let’s start with everyone’s favorite person in the crisis, Russian President Putin. He could continue with the tact that Russia has nothing to do with this and that it was actually Ukraine’s attempt to rid themselves of violent militants that caused the plane to be shot down. He could be right. Sure… and the sky might be red and pigs might fly. The point is though… it doesn’t matter if he is right or wrong.
We could after the fact look at the removal of Viktor Yanukovych and wonder if some of this unrest could have been avoided by a formal impeachment process where the United States, Germany, France, England, Ukraine and Russia worked together to help Ukraine form a solid, non corrupt government, but that ship has long since sailed.
What is going to happen if President Putin continues on this tact is that sanctions are going to mount from all sorts of countries. Russian officials might laugh them off now, but in a year to two when Russia has become a pariah state in which its people live in abject poverty, nobody will be laughing. Russia will be forced to sell and trade with whoever is willing. That list will be small. Poor rogue nations that Russia will be supporting more than they are supported by and perhaps China. The Chinese economy with every other economy will soar past Russia’s. I truly worry about my Russian friends and that they will be forced to live like this. Russia will essentially become a big Iran. Hated and mistrusted by most of the world. Impoverished. Politicians will move in shadowy corners making deals to keep their wallets fat while enforcing restrictions and censorship to make sure that the revolt that hides around every turn does not fester. It makes the old Soviet days look like a picnic.
Putin can choose this, or he can choose to work with Ukraine. Regardless of what he feels all the facts are about this plane crash. He can take steps to work with Western Countries. He can openly discuss with them his legitimate concerns about NATO’s over proliferation and his desire to keep close ties with ethnic Russians living in Eastern Ukraine. Putin could take a step back from the proverbial cliffs of pariah-dom and become the leader that his people elected him to be.
What I am going to recommend to my western friends is going to be an even more bitter pill to swallow. If Putin were to take these steps, even without an honest apology, even with a half-hearted, half-assed not quite apology, we have to let him. For my Dutch and Malaysian friends, I realize that this is an almost impossible task. The time for us to do the almost impossible is at hand.
If the Russian Government will take legitimate steps to not be forced back into a corner than western governments should allow them to move out of that corner. At that time, western governments should drop sanctions, forgive and make the concessions necessary to bring peace. When I say this, I don’t mean that there has to be an allowance for separatists who function as terrorists or that we should not honor those who lost their lives in this terrible tragedy. That would obviously be part of the bargain. If Putin is willing to renounce the separatists and work with Ukraine to bring about a united and whole Ukraine, then we must allow him to do so. If he needs a promise from Ukraine or from NATO that Ukraine won’t join NATO… then so be it. That promise could be granted with a promise that Russia will never invade Ukraine unless threatened by it. Similar to the accord America has with Cuba from the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Having Russia trapped into a corner fighting poverty and political upheaval is in no one’s best interest. It turns what could be a prosperous, productive nation into a wounded animal willing to do anything to survive.
Ukraine also needs to play a role in this. Ukrainian President Poroshenko cannot realistic think that after levelling the cities of Luhansk and Donetsk with artillery fire that the people of Eastern Ukraine will be able to reconcile the violence when the fighting ends. If he continues the onslaught of military attack, right or wrong, he risks losing the hearts and minds of Eastern Ukrainians. Do not take this as a statement of support for the rebels. I do not support the rebels or any militants anywhere. The truth is, there are a lot of peaceful Eastern Ukrainians with legitimate grievances against Kiev out there and they want peace and stability. They certainly do not want their homes and businesses destroyed by artillery fire. The only sane solution comes from Vladimir Putin using his extreme influence to rid Ukraine of this horrible militant insurgency.
What will happen? I have no idea at this point. Many times I have been hopefully that the conflict was at a crossroads and turning to peace. At this point, I quote the rock band the Who and hope, “we don’t get fooled again.”
The world sometimes seems to fall apart all around us. The horror and tragedy of the passenger plane being hit by a missile fired by separatist militants over Eastern Ukraine, the seemingly never-ending war between Israel and Hamas, the ISIS insurgency in Iraq, the Syrian conflict, disputes in the South China Sea, a South American refugee crisis… well you get the point.
Sometimes we need to map out a way to get away from all the troubles of the world. Normally, I would recommend vodka… but given that we can’t simply drink ourselves into oblivion 24/7, postcrossing seems to be a good alternative.
One way to enjoy the hobby of postcrossing is to collect certain types of cards. On my profile, I list that I enjoy map cards. I received this wonderful one from Belarus. It may not solve the world’s problems but it does take the edge off them for a bit. At least for me. For yourself, I suggest you find your own personal road map to tranquility…. or at the very least hit the liquor store for a bottle of vodka.
This parcel swap I received awhile ago. I met Vera from Yekaterinburg back during the Sochi Olympics and she has become one of my closest friends since. We correspond frequently. Vera was kind enough to send me all sorts of Candies and other items from Sochi. Also, a Matryoshka for my collection! Note that the candies with nuts in them have been eaten. They were delicious! I could not resist.
Thank you Vera!
Along with postcards, postcrossers sometimes do “parcel swaps”. I have two “parcel swaps” that I need to post. These are swaps that include small items from one country to the next. This one comes from my friend Maria in Siberia! Included is a Ribbon of Saint George which is often displayed by Russians on their celebration of “Victory Day” which celebrates victory over the Nazis in WW2. It has also been worn recently with some controversy by pro-Russian Separatists in Ukraine. (Before everyone freaks out this does not indicate that I support militant separatists in Ukraine. I have stated my opinion that I support peace seeking Ukrainians in both Eastern and Western Ukraine. I support a United Ukraine that will stop its all out assault on the Donbas region. I do not support the militants or the Kiev governments over aggressive military campaign that has caused so many civilian casualties.)
Also included in the package are a number of postcards, a Dostoevsky calendar (my favorite author!), old Soviet Union and modern-day Russian coins, Cosmonaut Cards and a banknote!
Thank you so much to Maria for this wonderful gift!
Russian Emporer Alexander III of Russia, was known in his time as “the peacemaker” because Russia fought in no major wars during his time This is of course, in stark contrast to his son Nicholas II, who accomplished anything but peace.
Alexander III is shown here with his family minus Nicholas the Bloody. See below!
This postcard comes from my good friend, Maria. She is a proud Russian, an unending fount of knowledge when it comes to Russian history and a philately enthusiast. Her pictures of the Siberian Region are always inspiring.
Thank you to Maria for this amazing postcard!
HOLD ON!!! Wait just a minute…. Maria has noted a mistake in my posting! Nicholas the Bloody is in the picture! He is on the very right. I mistook the first “e” in Tsesarevich for an “a” which would have indicated a different person. Now we can mention Lenin! YAY! Lenin of course would come back from Germany, take over in the Bolshevik Revolution and have Nicholas II executed with his family. I am sure we all still hear the screams of Anastasia. Or at least, her name in the Rolling Stones classic, “Sympathy for the Devil.” Thank you to the Rolling Stones and Lenin for allowing me the tags that just brought in 20 extra readers! :)
Happy belated Independence Day to all my friends here in America. I have been quite busy and behind in my postings. I thought this postcard from Christina from Mackinac, Michigan was perfect as it shows exactly what the celebrations of the “Fourth of July” in America look like. All over the country fireworks are shot off everywhere.
This benign looking postcard comes from Kyiv, Ukraine. It is a picture from Crimea. My impression is that the sender does not accept that Crimea has become part of Russia. In fact, I am pretty sure that they are very pissed off about it.
As always, these are my opinions. I am not a geo-political or military expert. I am a pacifist who is sick of the horrible violence that continues to plague our world.
Today the ridiculous “non” cease-fire that has lasted over a week ended in Ukraine. Mortar shells and bullets have continued to destroy Eastern Ukraine. Russian President Putin pointed out that we have pockets of severe violence in Syria, Iraq, and as he said, “regrettably” Ukraine.
What is regrettable is that our world leaders have not done anywhere near enough to bring about peace in Ukraine or the rest of the world. Russian President Putin, German Prime Minister Merkel, French President Hollande, Ukraine President Poroshenko, and American President Obama are all extremely guilty of this.
We need to stop thinking East vs. West. Nato vs. Russia. We need to start thinking United Nations. As in, the world’s nations unite for peace. This will not be easy.
It is far easier to bomb a place into submission as the United States did with Iraq. The problem is, what we here in the United States are learning, is that might buy you a decade of peace, but the cost is a century of war.
We face tough choices if we want true lasting peace. It means loving our enemy… it actually means no longer having enemies. It means working together even if we don’t like a country, their ideas, religions, customs, etc. and coming together to find common ground. It means doing so even if our politicians are too lazy or unwilling to do so.
This means giving Russia an ironclad guarantee that Ukraine will not become a member of Nato. It means the United States working with Iran to end violence and Iraq and to stop the horror that is ISIS.
It means Russia telling the separatists in Eastern Ukraine that while they sympathise with them they can no longer support them and unless they put down their weapons and live peacefully in Ukraine or return to Russia that there will be harsh consequences.
It means China, Russia, the United States and the EU coming up with comprehensive trade agreements that include human rights clauses as well as using multi-currency trading to end Western Hegemony.
It means everyone living together.
The stupid thing… everyday, average, normal people understand this. We see it on the internet all the time. The people who do not understand this are our politicians.
POSTCROSSERS FOR PEACE
Privet from Arturo and I to my friend Niki from Saint Petersburg. This beautiful postcard, Niki tells us, depicts what I think I have translated properly in English, the holiday of Maslenitsa. It is possible that I am wrong.
I absolutely love this postcard.
At any rate, the tradition here is to eat pancakes! Who can knock a postcard that has anything to do with pancakes? Perhaps my favorite food.
Russian styled pancakes are a bit more like what we would call crepes … but still, crepes are delicious too. They do have the odd thing of placing caviar on them. I am certain however that our CIA and special operatives are working on them to adjust to the American standard of butter and maple syrup. This applies to you too England… we know that you aren’t following the rules.
I love this collection of Penguin Book postcards. They bring literature to life. Being a literature fantic, this is about as good as it gets. I can just imagine a book filled with knights clashing with jousting lances and fighting over fair maidens and castles.
Of course, I haven’t read the book so it might just be signs and symbols from the Dark Ages. Still cool!