Yesterday I posted Screwing a Porcupine Is Against The Law. Avoid The Temptation. I did not do it to shock the public, as I wasn't really shocked myself. I was laughing reading that article. I knew that it could have happened. And then I read the comments...
I knew that there is a gap between American and Russian mentality, but I did not know that it was so wide. This just tells me how different we actually are.
You see, for me and my wife the story, even if it was not true, was in line with the Russian mentality and character. It is a different world, where life and health have different value (if you could ever read Babel's "Red Cavalry", you will not only enjoy a first class literature, but will have a deeper understanding of what I am talking about. Believe me, if you read it, screwing porcupines would seem like innocuous fun (in terms of unbelievable cruelty to others and upon themselves)
It is not that Russians are stupid as a nation, but it is that Russians would take so much greater risks than Americans even in situations where they put their well-being and even life at stake. Where Americans religiously stop at breaking the law, Russian would use every chance to do it, even if they risk to get hurt, and even if the results can't give them any benefit at all. You tell the Russians that they can't do something, and just watch them. Like these two guys...
If the guys could go and try to screw a porcupine just out of curiosity, what can they do when they are dead serious... and even more drunk?
After reading Sally and David's comment that it would take the guys to drink a whole bottle of vodka to dare screwing a porcupine, we (with my wife) just burst into laughter, as we both know that guys might have had way more than a bottle of vodka (whiskey in this case) between the two of them. One bottle could have made them look for women, but it would take more than one bottle to look for a porcupine...
Let's forget about sex and think how different we are on this planet. If a simple story about two drunk Russians looks so unbelievable to Americans, just think about how wrong we - Americans - may be when dealing with the Russians. If we deal with Russia assuming that they feel as Americans, think as Americans, and act as Americans, would it be reasonable to say that our actions could easily be plain stupid?
The Russians do not act as Americans in similar situations. But in a sense the Russians are still closer to Americans than Iranians, North Koreans, and a bunch of other nations and nationalities. Russia is a Christian country, and blowing themselves up has not gained popularity there. But there are many other places, where the gap between mindsets is much wider, and where blowing themselves up just to kill others, no matter how innocent they might be is a commendable act.
The fundamental principles for Americans are freedom, respect for life, democracy... There will be very little that would match it with the Russians. But try matching it to the core values of Muslim Iran or socialist North Korea, and they will not be even close.. So, they may blow themselves while Americans would never do that; they will screw porcupines (literally and metaphorically), while Americans would never do that, and they can drop a nuke with no reason (from the American point of view) at all. Because sense and reason are perceived differently. If I see my destiny in dying for the cause, it makes sense to me and it does not make sense to you. We use different scales, different points of reference.
I think the difference between the Russian mindset (or mentality) and American is that Americans come from the undisputed value of the individual, hence the respect for individual rights. The Russians never had much respect for individual. Nor in tsarist time, and even less in socialist times. (If you could read outstanding novels of Nobel Prize winner (Literature, 1965) - Mikhail Sholokhov "And Quiet Flows the Don" and "Virgin Soil Upturned", you would enjoy it tremendously and better understand "The Russian Soul", which, according to Dostoevsky, "the most basic, most rudimentary spiritual need of the Russian people is the need for suffering, ever-present and unquenchable, everywhere and in everything"). Do you notice any resemblance to American Core Values? Do you understand that on its deepest level unquenchable need for suffering has nothing to do with respect for life and respect for individual?
It has always been the value of the country over the value of any of the citizens. Country is everything, an individual is nothing. So, do not be surprised that poor and underprivileged would unite under the nationalistic banners and would die for the pride of the nation (in their understanding). You can't imagine how much pride there is. Hence the hype when Putin raged the war against Georgia. The war and victory is feeding the Russian pride and Putin's popularity. And if his popularity would go to dangerously low levels, there may be another war, and it will be a matter of pride again. People in Russia (and not only n Russia) are used to adore the strong hand. Russia, however, would restrain from nuking the world even for the pride (but try running a poll and there will be a lot of people who would be in favor of nuking US). But North Koreans would. They are tremendously bluffing, and tremendously bullish, but cornered they might press the button. As long as the Great Leader (it is such a poor translation, it is not "leader" the way we understand it here, it is more than a father to whom your obedience is unquestioned) would consider death rather then abandoning the great socialist idea, he would push the button. In that system there is no one to stop him, like there was no one to stop Saddam Hussein.
Russia may go with the idea, like Nazis went with the social/nationalistic/ethnic idea. Terrorists usually come from Muslim fundamentalism, and here you deal with a religious idea, and the individual rights are nowhere to be found even under the microscope.
When we come to them offering democracy, freedom, value of individual, and utmost respect for life, are we preaching to the wall?
Some people think that if we do not bug others, they will not bug us. Actually it is the opposite. Because they are not trying to protect their way of living and breathing and thinking. They are trying to make the whole world think like them, as only then there is a justification for their acts. If it is everywhere, then it is unquestionable. They can't keep up with the developing world, so the only way to prove their mission is to keep the world at their pace and to their liking. If September 11 did not show you that, then history is not a teacher for you
You do not need to take it from me. Every statement from the Fundamentalists claim just that, and sets this as a goal. Not to prevent the West from interfering with their way of living on their soil, no. Just destroying the West. Instilling their values upon the world. If you do not like it, you dead.
Just as Hamas' goal is not to have the sovereignty and coexist with others, but destruction of Israel. The whole Western civilization is a bone in the throat of Muslim Fundamentalist movement. You can buy time by bowing to them and appeasing them, but another Munich is not a solution. Did not work before, is not going to work now.
Of course on individual level Americans would hardly have sex with porcupines. But on a national level... maybe. Because when I read that we are bringing our values to the world, I am afraid that the goal is wrong, and the results might be as enjoyable as intercourse with a porcupine. When I read that we want to talk to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, it sounds like we want to get in bed with Iran. We will get screwed, in the most painful and unpleasant way.
Can sex with a porcupine be a learning experience?