When our team first envisioned a magazine to show the world the real Russia, we overlooked one insurmountable fact. There is no separating people and culture from politics. I learned this early on, in my political science studies. Wanting to reveal the "good" that is really Russia, we were determined to exclude politics and geo-strategy etc. Naively, innocently, we mistook the inevitability. Today the world is at a real crossroads, and everyone knows it. So today I want to show the disparity in between what we were taught, and what is. Here is a story of a fascinating person, a hero and personality notorious in one breath, and beloved in the next. Vladimir Putin marks our time.
My wife is an angel. Brilliant, vibrant, deep as the well of life itself, kind, and honest like a knife blade to the ribs. She used to hate all Russians. Individuals in her early life, they were bad emisaries of a great nation. This happens, many hate Americans for their rudeness, idosyncrisies, and so forth. But we learn. Mihaela is from Romania. A former military journalist, her father was a hero who called over the TV airwaves for brothers not to kill brothers, back in 1989. I mention this because so many are soldiers out there. Reading this, I know you will identify with patriotism, love of your people and country. Mihaela is her country's best emissary you see. Tales of her childhood, life in Bucharest, whispering names of American movie stars, the glory of Nadia Comanechi, the real stories of Count Dracula ---- in our life together she's painted the richest of tapestries of the Romanian people. And as irony always works, it was she who insisted I investigate Vladimir Putin before passing some rash, ignorant judgement. So I did.
Miheala's most shiny moments of childhood, life outside Bucharest with her grandmother, they led me to this report you are reading. In a tiny agrarian village, on the border with Bulgaria, my wife remembers with us a magical existence. Simple, hard working, down to Earth wonderful people etched out a life there, in the fields. Her grandma's village would be classidfied as "in the middle of nowhere" by most New Yorkers and LA jetsetters. But for my mother and my southern heritage, sweeping dirt yards and dirt floors were vivid mental cinema... I won't task you, I simply mean my wife's people and mine came from the same soil, the same dirt, and the same humaneness. And today I finally grasped how she understood Putin better than I, even through the iron curtain of national bias. Please tolerate my metaphors and long-winded storytelling nature, and perhaps our humanness can carry us out of the current abyss.
Vladimir Putin is from the same place. Let this sink in please. The reason for Putin's universal appeal is his humane identity. The image you see above is one that I believe shows the tiny village near Tver, where Putin's grandfather moved during World War I. Putin grew up in Leningrad (St. Petersburg now), as many reading this will know. But it's significant to note how he mentions this tiny village of Pominovo on his personal website. The most charismatic and powerful leader on Earth is proud, unashamedly happy in his common man image, and for good reason. Anybody who observes him without malice of aforethought can identify the reasons for his popularity. I was told once "the people in the countryside adore him", a photojournalist friend for RIA Novosti once told me. And now I truly know why. He is one of us.
I could profile Putin for you, maybe even write a book by now, but the Russian leader's importance goes beyond any biography. If ever there were a harbinger of death over the elites in the western world, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin is its personification. And I am not speaking out of some teary eyed fanaticism for heroes to worship. The reality of my assertion here grows more evident by the day. As I talk to people on the street here in Germany, or when coffee table conversation turns to Russia and Putin, even when I am interviewed about geo-policy, one diamond hard reality sinks in for me. The "people" of the world admire and identify with Putin. It is the leadership and the opposing forces against him that sew the lie he is evil, power hungry, and that Russia somehow wants war. Let me give concrete examples.
My sister Rosemary is true blue 100% American. Our brother Paul is the Marine's Marine, a multiple tour Vietnam vet. For my extended family, the Christianity and commonness of Putin are not argued, nor are the foolhardy exploits of NATO and the Washington elites. But the reader might insist; "Yeah, but it's your family. So what?" Well, I come from the South, where being a redneck is not derogatory. My friends from high school unanimously agree, "they cannot find anything to dislike about Putin." My clients, editors I work with from all over the world, social media people I discuss politics with, 100% unanimously, they all admire Vladimir Putin. Millions of people, on the fingest of my massive social network, they laugh at Putin parodies, they cheer his lambslasting of western leaders, and they admire the seeming invincibility of Russia's president. Even the invisible society takes solace from the idea of Putin, the idealistic possibility that there actually is someone so capable out there. And this is unarguable. The world is fed up with mediocrity. While Fox and CNN seldom betray the public's utter disgust with the neocons and banker psychopaths, the universal conscience is there. We humans can smell inferior. We can taste a lie before it leaves a leader's lips. And western leaders lie like nasty rugs on the floor of excellence.
Putin judo chops, shoots a gun, flies a plane, and walks like a gunslinger through the gauntlet of western media damnation every day. And like Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars, he grows stronger with each attack, seemingly undaunted, almost immortal already. You sense it, we all do. I am convinced Putin could be elected Tsar of Earth, if only the people were allowed a fair vote. Hell, I know 100,000 in one Facebook group that would sign the petition today. In the youthful Putin it's easy to see ourselves. He wrestled as most of us do, to find the importance in things, the path, his first teacher said he was a troublemaker, rather than a pioneer. Were'nt we all? At least the normal among us all seemed to be.
Putin is Russia. Obama has nothing to do with America. David Cameron and Angela Merkel cannot even be identified as either British or German. And this has a little bit to do with not being farmers too. Mostly though, we need to look more closely at Russia to see ourselves. I talk with people of all walks there on a daily basis. I also talk to Dutch people too, and Germans, Brits, my Irish bretherin, American rednecks and Silicon Valley men, French hotliers and edventurers in Brazil. Veterans from Veterans Today, SEO experts in Singapore, Cuban nightclub owners, you name it. My job introduced me to everyone in every field. And without any bias toward or against Mr. Putin, not one person with an ounce of brains and decency has a grudge held against Russia or Putin.
This brings me to the point of this report.
We should be questioning exactly who is filling our mouths with the big-fat-lie that is Russophobia? Well, for once my task as a reporter and anyalyst is easy as pie. You all know who the bad guys are. They are the Anti-Putin, the anti-farmer, the anti-humans.... Wall Street, the Frankfurt banking district, Luxembourg, Buckingham Palace and surrounds, in some secret refridgerator vault in Antarctica, where Hitler's brain is kept alive, this is where the world's problems emanate from. It is the "Beast" that hates Vladimir Putin like God's harbinger, and you all now it. Hell, Putin will end up proving out the most devastating parts of the Bible before long. And I do not think anyone out there is ready for that grand opening. The real reason the puppets leading western governements fear Vladimir Putin is drop-dead simple. One of "US" controls a massive military, and the world's biggest reserve of resources. Now how illuminating is that to know?
Yeah, I admire Putin. One day he will take me fishing, I have no doubt. My reasons fill the corners of my memory. I recall my Uncle D.J. letting me shoot that 12 gauge at his fishing lodege in the Everglades when I was 7. I remember my Mom driving her Cadillac down a dirt road, waling across a stream and a cow pasture, in high heels, to visit my Uncle Benny's farm. There's my Aunt Beulah's wooden shack in the orange groves of Florida, and my cousins and me with dirty feet being the best human beings can be. Together, more similar than different, down to our roots human as hell. And that my friends is what the world really understands about Vladimir Putin. He came from where we did, and the others did not. He is the archetype of what we should be looking for to lead us.