By Vince Dhimos
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
They keep making movies about Putin, and the latest one (click on video link above), by Andrey Kondrashov, has a scene where Kondrashov asks Putin what love is (starting at about minute 15:32).
Forrest Gump, in the film of that title featuring Tom Hanks, has a short scene where Forrest says to his childhood sweetheart: “I am not a smart man. But I know what love is.” Forrest shows this love by his actions and words but would have been hard put to articulate it.
I used to wonder what a smart Forrest Gump would have been like. I no longer wonder.
Vladimir Putin is a smart person who knows what love is, and his definition of love is distinctly Russian. In a way, I think that as president, Putin weaponizes love, and I mean that respectfully, in a good sense, because I love and admire Putin and know that he is on the right track. What I mean by that is that Putin loves the people he deals with, including the meanest creatures on earth, the Saudi royals, or the very best, his Russian co-workers and constituents. His love draws them at least momentarily into his world where he can touch not only their minds but their hearts. In this way, he achieves peace without the need to use coercion, threats, or insults in the way that has become the trademark of US “diplomacy.”
If you will click on the video link above and go to minute 15:32, you can hear this conversation.
(My translation below is not a slavish copy of the subtitles. For example, the word dobroe (доброе) in Putin’s explanation means “kind” in this context, not just “good” as rendered by the Russian translator.)
Kondrashov: Vladimir Vladimirovich, in recent years you have repeatedly said that there is nothing more important in life than love. Tell us, what is love?
Putin: Love is a kindly attitude toward people. It’s the feeling that everyone is a part of others. It’s a very important part of our life. The life of all nations in our country.1 It is a warm feeling toward family and loved ones. Your attitude toward your country. It’s this inner feeling of self-sacrifice and goodwill to others. A phenomenon so common in our country. It also means loyalty to your homeland. I rarely observe this phenomenon outside our own country.
1Russia is a collection of nations, each with its own culture and often with its own distinctive language and religion. At the same time, the central government cultivates a loyalty to Russia per se. This is observed, for example, in the leadership of Chechnya, a Muslim province, whose leader Ramzan Kadyrov has long shown strong loyalty to President Putin and has aided Russia in dealing with and eliminating terror there. Unlike the US, when Siberia, sort of a “wild East” you could say, was settled by the first Russian speakers, they respected the different cultures there and allowed them to keep their own identities, instead of “conquering” them or exterminating them. This respect for other cultures and the sovereignty of peoples (nations) is a fundamental aspect of Russian life, political and cultural, and has manifested in recent years as the Multipolar World touted by Putin, who, thanks to this respectful, loving policy, is becoming a uniting factor in the Middle East and North Africa and in the world at large. Love is his source of strength, just as US leaders’ rude, arrogant manner is their source of weakness.