Talking to the World Project
I started this project in 2014 as a personal challenge. I wanted to see if it was possible to speak to one person in each country of the world. Talk to them about their daily lives. Our commonalities, rather than our differences. I assured them they could respond in any way they chose. Because the focus is on their words, I only identify them by their first names. To date, I have spoken with people in 60 plus countries with the help of friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues. I still have a long way to go.
When I started this blog, my intention was to give people around the world a voice. My pledge to them was not to judge or dispute their views, no matter how difficult it may be to hear what they say. Alex, a software engineer in Russia, reminded me of that pledge.
For years, Alex played chess online with my husband. When I contacted him about the blog, he warned me I might not like some of his answers. I assured him that his answers would not offend me. I wanted to hear them. I wanted to listen. I wanted a different perspective. Alex certainly gave me that.
(A Ukrainian companion post to this one can be found at https://medium.com/@vasilionlaura/through-ukrainian-eyes-287edbbaafd)
Alex lives with his wife and young son in a small flat in one of Moscow’s satellite cities — Zelenograd. It means, “Green City”. Alex’s days begin with a cup of tea and bread with butter. On average, he works ten hours a day writing code, sitting in meetings, and attending to the various duties of his business.
My Conversation with Alex
Describe what you see outside your window.
There are a couple of trees right beyond the window. A bit further, there are car garages and parking lots. Finally, my horizon is a block of apartment houses fourteen floors tall.
What is the most beautiful thing about Russia?
Nature and people. I believe that nature influences the character and mood of people. Therefore, I could say that the most beautiful thing is nature.
What do you do to relax/for entertainment?
- Watch movies I like
- Listen to music
- Walk/ ride bike
- Get out from city to wild nature
If you could speak to anyone in the world — living or deceased — who would that be and what would you say to them?
I am a very curious person. If I could speak to anyone, I would speak to one of the most mysterious persons. Let’s say Adam or Christ. It doesn’t matter what we would speak about. It would just be to satisfy my curiosity.
Who inspires you?
Those who speak less and do more — entrepreneurs, makers, open source movement members, volunteers.
What do you want Americans to know about Russians?
Not every Russian has a bear. Not all Russians drink a bottle of vodka a day.
You can’t understand foreign culture by watching TV, especially news. Talk to people face by face. The Internet gives you that ability.
What don’t Americans understand about the conflict in Ukraine?
There are two sorts of Americans.
The first sort started the chaos in Ukraine. They clearly understand why people kill each other and how to get profit from it. The thing they don’t understand is that not all people easily give up their homes.
The second sort is just regular Americans. I doubt many of them even can find Ukraine on a map. They are fed the usual bullsh*t about evil Putin suppressing young democracy. Let’s be honest, the U.S. exported democracy to several countries in the last few years. Things there only became worse. Why do people still believe modern TV-magic? That magic turns armed (by U.S. guns) foreigners in Syria into rebels fighting against the totalitarian regime. At the same time, it marks homeland defenders in Ukraine as terrorists.
You believe Americans are behind the conflict in Ukraine.
Yes, by my opinion most of them are Americans. I also think that the news is biased and sometimes it lies (not only in the U.S.)
What is your opinion of the United States?
The elite went too far in supporting their own security. The problem is that the elite are just a few people. However, their security measures hit all Americans.
I don’t like U.S. foreign policy — they use force too often. Sooner or later, the U.S. will face a stronger opponent…unless they start WWIII.
What is your greatest fear?
From my standpoint, the U.S. currently is interested in starting global conflict. The U.S. has started lots of conflicts all around the world and continues to start them.
My greatest fear is global war. I don’t want my son to live in a post-apocalyptic world or even die. I don’t say that all the Americans want war but they are ruled by those to whom God is money. These people don’t care about causalities.
What gives you hope?
Russian fairy tales, even if something horrible happens there, they always have a happy end. So, at first, my hope is that the good will defeat evil.
I know that there are many smart people everywhere and that the Internet helps to spread information very fast. I hope that intellect will save us from stupid and terrible things.