The War and the Language of Emotions

Photo by Nati Melnychuk on Unsplash

The massive loss of life that Putin has unleashed has its roots in a set of emotional perceptions.
Yet I am almost sure, that none of the heads of state who have attempted to mediate with the Russian, have asked him, ‘why are you afraid?’ or ‘are you envious of the West?’
Putin would deny he was.
Acknowledging our emotions is not easy but the cost of not doing so is enormous.
Putin has said that NATO is threatening Russia although NATO’s reason for being is to protect against Russian attacks. And there have been plenty of those.
It was Russia, or the Soviet Union before it, that invaded Ukraine in 2014 (annexing Crimea), Georgia in 2008, Chechnya in the 1990s and again in the first decade of this century, Czechoslovakia in 1968, Hungary in 1956.
To justify the present invasion, Putin has insisted that Ukraine is a threat to him and to Russia.
He did not have the personal strength to say, ‘I am afraid that if Ukrainians leave my world and take up the customs of the West — with their ways of thinking and behaving — they will set a bad example for all the peoples I have intimidated into submission. And because I am afraid, I must kill the wayward Ukrainians.’
But what is there to be afraid of?
Freedom.
Freedom is central to the language of emotions.
If there is no freedom or if it is restricted, so are the emotions we can express.
We read, go to the theatre, watch movies, so we can see other ranges of emotional expression and help expand ours.
Under political repression, only the outward expression of emotions and ideas are restricted. Inside our minds we can still think and feel what we wish. But over time, the restricted possibilities of outward expression end up constricting our thoughts and feelings.
Fear does that. And so life is diminished and devalued.
Which is how autocrats and dictators rule.
It is happening In Russia, in China, in Myanmar, in Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Egypt. They restrict the freedom of others so those doing the intimidation can have more privileges than the rest.
Restriction of freedom leads to the narrowing of our emotional world.
The fact that Putin rules Russia and its subordinate territories (the word nation does not currently fit Belarus) does not mean that he is doing so with the consent of the people. If there isn’t freedom of expression in a nation, then such rule lacks legitimacy.
Legitimacy is not earned by force of arms or intimidation.
Thus, Putin is not the legitimate leader of Russia.
Instead, he is the expression of a people who has lost its voice and so become emotionally crippled because of not exercising their political freedoms.
I predict that soon there will be a revolution in Russia. There will be because of the following:
One — Russians are an educated and capable people who, in comparison to the rest of the world, are underperforming. They know it and it hurts.
Two — the incongruency between their level of sophistication and the brutality they’re being asked to carry out in Ukraine is too large.
Three — they will come to acknowledge that their political passivity is what made possible a despot like Putin.
Four — Russians will recognize that they allowed Putin to numb their emotional world and so gave themselves permission to live in fear of the tyrant.
The wholesale destruction of lives and property currently under way in Ukraine, is happening in a world that is the most interconnected there has ever been.
Everything is on display. Nothing can be hidden that won’t surface shortly thereafter.
In consequence, our emotions are heightened.
Such richness is essential to freedom.
Putin can hide from Russians the atrocities in Ukraine for only so long.
Soon enough, all the details of the carnage will be known to everyone.
And then Russians will come to accept that, in their passivity, they became Putin’s accomplices.
Which is why they will revolt.
With the continued support of the West, and Russians’ challenge of Putin from within, Ukraine will push Russia out of their territory.
And the two nations will be good neighbors and prosper.
In this day, when talks of mediation between warrying parties take place, the matter of freedom should be on the table.

Oscar Valdes oscarvaldes.net, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts

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writer and psychiatrist with an interest in current affairs

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writer and psychiatrist with an interest in current affairs

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