God vs. Putin
16 August, 2012

On my visit to Italy, I had a chance to spend a night and half a day in Eco Del Mare, an exclusive resort in Lerici on the cost. Eco Del Mare is a small (by American standards) boutique resort, the kind you see in travel magazines, where all the details from the bellowing nets of the canopies to the private elevator down to the private beach make you feel like you are in paradise on earth. I got in really late night, as I got lost a few times driving in from Modena. 

I was welcomed and greeted by a wonderful hostess, who was also the one who guided me when I called twice in panic on the road. I was walked down to the private elevator and in half dark I saw the beautifully low lit beach and hotel. At midnight the chef stayed up to prepare me the most delicious (although I suspect snails would have been delicious to me at that point because I hadn’t eaten in six hours) and the hostess, my guide and my savior took me to my room where I passed out to the sound of waves rocking back and forth. I woke up seven hours later still to the sound of the sea. So it wasn’t a dream. I breathed the clear air everyone always mentions when they go to the beach and I walked down to the beach. I knew I had an article to write about, and I knew the topic was going to be three young women stuck in a dark cell somewhere in Moscow awaiting the logical conclusion to the absurdist theater that has been playing out for the entire world to see. But as I jumped into a welcoming sea swam away from the beach I thought less and less about work. I had almost forgotten about the article, about the girls in jail, about my editor who was waiting for the article, yesterday. I almost made it all the way to the boat the hotel got for me to take out to the sea, when I first saw a bold head with under water goggles popped up right in front of me take his mouth piece out and yell some foul things in Russian to a woman on the beach, who responded in an equally loud and cursive manner. Even in this paradise... There was just no way around it, I had to get back to the beach and whip out my computer. I am not complaining, I know I am way better off sitting on the beautiful beach with earphones on so I don’t have to listen to more cursing, foot on top of another, writing whatever I feel like writing. I can even write negative comments on the Russian president and his lackeys, and no one would bother to lock me up. Because I live in a civilized land where a lot of things are also not perfect but at least the freedom of speech is taken seriously. And here’s the thing about speech, it can be brutal and it can be honest and then it can be Russian. When I read about the language Russian pop stars are using to condemn the members of Pussy Riot, it’s painful to read. I can’t even imagine having to hear it read out loud. What happened to the wonderful language of Pushkin and Lermontov, to hilarious voice of Gogol and my favorite comedians Raikin and Zhvanetsky? Why is every other word a curse word? When the government itself is full of ridiculous and spiteful men who are willing to equate Madonna to an ‘old b*’ in a public blog, then there’s not much you can ask from the ordinary folk. So there sit three young women who have written and defended themselves in letters that are both intelligent and open. They speak of not wanting to offend God, but to question the wisdom of his representatives on earth who use his name to promote a false God, a shorter, bolder and meaner looking one. Yet the ignorant men and women of the more ‘popular’ Russia are sitting in the homes praising their God and or Putin and using the foulest language towards those who do not agree.  These repeat offenders of the Russian language claim to do so because of their love for God, and again most like confusing God with Putin, they claim to want to defend him against those who want to tarnish his name. And although Putin might be soon in need of a very rigorous defense, God is doing just fine - He’s got the whole trinity on His side.

Other Stories
In Store for Georgia!
Most of us would probably agree that looking back is much easier than gazing into the future. Evaluating the past is extremely important but having a more or less unmistakably calculated vision of prospective hazards or opportunities should be even more significant. If on the eve of political upheaval of the beginning of those roaring nineties of the 20th century in the former USSR the Georgian political leadership of that time and the nation’s intellectual elite had had a clearer perspective of those devastating incipient developments, Georgia might have endured the end-of-soviet-era economic social and political “earthquakes” much easier and with minimized pains and losses.
Our Posterity
Do we remember the celebrated text of the Preamble to the United States Constitution? Isn’t it amazing that it so accurately fits into the best political beliefs of the Georgian people? Listen to this slightly altered version of the Preamble, tailored on Georgia: We the people of SAKARTVELO, in order to form a more perfect republic, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity...
Phrase-Mongering
I have always wondered if phrase-mongering was part of our national character and everyday life. A considerable number of good and nice people in this country are desperately carried away with verbiage. We love to talk without putting much meaning into the words and phrases we are using when communicating with each other at any age and on any level, including political. What matters most for us is to say something as if the main function of a word we utter is to serve as an emotional exhaust. We are saying something because we just want to say it. We just have a physical need to say what we are saying.
Which way to go?
Historical destinies of the Georgian people have it that we always stood at crossroads, looking around in fear and doubts about the painful geopolitical choices we had to make. A crossroad-mode of existence has persisted up until now, keeping us in abeyance interminably without a clearly-cut model of the nation’s future. The annals are pointing at only one historical period, called the “Golden Era” – in 11th and 12th centuries – when Georgia was a large powerful country, playing its significant regional and international role. At all other times, Georgia was torn apart between some great powers – holders of geopolitical reigns at this or that historical stage in the duration of more than two millennia.
Geopolitical Daydream
I am opening my eyes in one of these fine spring mornings and guess what – the TV set, in front of which I had fallen asleep the previous night, is still on, with my favorite anchor shoving the breaking news
Referendums... Plebiscites ...
Discontent prevails, dissatisfaction perseveres, displeasure persists, disgruntlement reigns and disapproval continues everywhere in the world. A sense of misery and desolation is more commonplace among humans than a feeling of bliss and delight – based on average global measurements. Not a single government of any country throughout history has ever performed to complete satisfaction of the governed. In this lovely world of direct, pure, representative, participatory, deliberative, mature, immature, partial, full, embryonic, developed or whatever sort of democracy, humans are more angered, annoyed and irritated at the performance of their elected, imposed or hereditary rulers than pleased, content and happily settled.
Russia vs. Humanity
Russia is today under huge stress if not in deep trouble. On a more generalized note, she has always been invariably worried and exasperated. This is Russia’s character, formed and tempered by her historical fate. Russia is used to a role of an unfair player in matters international. Otherwise, why has Russia been putting up with that much pressure and condemnation since she was shaped into statehood many centuries ago? How come that Russia has that much patience to listen to those unending disparaging comments in her address on the part of the rest of the world? Has Russia any serious reasons to reconcile herself with the massive unconcealed odium that is thrown on her big neurotic head from every direction?
Foreign Relations
Let us put it as trivially as we can – even a child in a nursery school today knows what Foreign Relations means. If we define it in a more or less quizzical way, Foreign Relations would connote the nations, rubbing up against each other in amicable or hostile circumstance, seeking as much benefit from one another as a particular situation would allow at the moment of interaction. Wow, what a perfectly comprehensive new definition, ready for entry into any reputable reference book on the subject.
Soviet Pattern Recurrence

When Putin said that the collapse of the USSR was the biggest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century, he had probably wished to let the world know that he was regretful about the inevitable soviet calamity that had come about so instantaneously. Who knows, the tsar in democratic clothing could have been right. Looking back into the last twenty-five years of history, the momentous change in the life of the populous human conglomerate, called the Soviet People was indeed a disaster, which swept away the halcyon years of peaceful existence for otherwise demoralized and despondent experimental nation.

Minorities
Fair and right treatment of minorities by the nations of the world is one of the most pronounced features of our times, and one of the outstanding achievements too. Achievement yes, but not every nation has achieved the status of a fair-and-right handler of minorities in their own countries. I wonder where Georgia stands in this respect. Does this nation have a right sense of what Minority means? Are we reasonable enough a people to co-exist with minorities in our land lovingly and peacefully? Or are we still shrugging our shoulders and goggling our eyes at those who do not look, behave and feel exactly as the majority does?
To go or not to go
There cannot be more fun in the world than having a chance to attend Olympic Games – the most fascinating pastime, invented by man ever. Not everybody is lucky enough to have the pleasure of course. Some of us get an occasional chance though, like myself – I have had my felicitous Olympic moments a couple of times in the past. There is no way to disallow the opportunity of feeling part of the global Olympic family. The temptation is so big that you just pack up and take off to where the games are on, even if you are laid up with a tough case of pneumonia or bleeding ulcers in the stomach.
HOMILY
I love reading into the sermons of His Holiness . . . and not only reading – I usually listen in considerately and digest them meticulously. The sermons of his Beatitude are like a high-morality text-book reading matter, the modern Bible of itself, written and voiced with caring deliberation for the people of Georgia of various confessions and denominations. Speaking of those superb homilies, I cannot help mentioning that my breath was taken by the last Sunday sermon, delivered with strong sense of truth and civil determination. This excerpt – We love being liberated, we lack restraint, and we entertain excess in enjoyment, delight and grief – has impressed me to death.
Telling Right from Wrong
Even a child would know that life is full of right and wrong, but a child might not be aware that the balance between the two might determine how comfortable our life is. If right prevails, our life feels good, and if wrong preponderates, the life feels bad. Very plainly put, isn’t it? But sounds uncannily logical! I wonder what is more abundant in Georgia – right or wrong. As if I don’t know! And are we good enough to tell right from wrong when the difference is asking to be revealed? My bones and brains, and the guilty conscience are telling me that wrong is showing more viability and resilience here.
Making a Difference
Making a difference is a very difficult thing to achieve. Not everybody can make a difference. Only a chosen few can make a difference.
Celebrating Twice
I know what faith means, and I respect people’s sense of preference for religious belonging. I do not go to church, but that does not mean that I am an atheist. I was brought up as a nonbeliever but I would sooner say that there is God than not, although I am more inclined to respond undecidedly to the question about God’s existence, which probably makes me an agnostic rather than a convinced believer. Whatever I make out of my wretched self, I treat with an unambiguous respect any faith, any cult, any religion that man wanted to perpetuate in thousands of years that our civilization is counting. I was born into a communist’s family.
Resolutions 2014
The Christmas Day is much, much bigger in America than the first day of New Year. Christmas is everything with its sales, presents, feasts and family reunions – not as much in its religious content though any more. Sorry, but the Christmas and New Year commercialism has overpowered anything that is called faith. New Year in the States is something pointedly trivial, meaning nothing more than a start of the arriving New Year. People would even go to work in America if the 1st of January falls on a weekday. The only thing that makes a New Year meaningful in the United States is the New Year’s Resolutions.
Going Physical
Some might think that it should be a terribly big deal whether the politicians in Georgia box or wrestle publicly inside the premises of the legislative body, but I wish I were a professional psychoanalyst to better explain the fistfights, occurring from time to time in the Georgian parliament. It is so funny that these guys want to lick each other instead of sparring, making use of their smarts, if there are any, instead of their physical mass.
Restoration of Justice
This is today the most frequently used term in the Georgian media, in our political circles and on grass-roots level all over the country. Restoration of justice! I need to recognize that the term is absolutely overwhelming and multi-meaningful. Saying that justice needs to be restored means that we are voluntarily admitting that justice was not administered, in its own time, in the most appropriate way, and we are all part of that faulty social process.
Initialing the Future
The prevailing political sentiment in this Nation is that we are Europeans more than anything else – looks, manners, tastes, thoughts, aspirations . . . But certain patterns of our culture and social behavior would still make a looker-on think that part of us is Asian, which does not mean at all that Georgia should give up on dreaming of fulltime economic and political integration in the European Union, which is Georgia’s final address and ultimate destination. EU is our future! And that future has already been initialed in black-and-white, officially, right in front of the entire world, including the teeth-grinding Russians. Oops! I am sorry Russia! Congrats Georgia! Shame on you, Ukraine! What’s wrong with you, man? Why are you scared that much?
Who are we after all?
I mean, who are we Georgians, in principle? What sort of phenomenon are we? I know that we are a people, a nation, a country. . . that much I know, of course. What gives me a feeling of discomfort and puts me at a loss is the ceaselessly nagging question of what kind of people, nation and country we are.
It is well known and widely recognized that we usually impress others with our national character, which they say resembles ‘Mediterranean,’ if this kind of classification could be considered philosophically justifiable at all.
Fifth Inauguration
Four presidents and five inaugurations! Not much, ha! And still, the history is made, the history of democratically organized Georgia - young, trying and scrambling. Presidential inaugurations are important... to a certain extent, and they are only done to formalize the results of elections thereby. Inaugurations should not be allowed to shatter the life in the country and to paralyze traffic in the capital city; they should be compatible with the country’s size and international weight and power; they cannot be overly expensive, bothering and extravagant; and they have to make certain constructive political sense. I think we have every reason to say that the fifth presidential inauguration in Georgia was compatible with all those parameters and demands.
Presidential Palace
It was built as a presidential palace of Georgia. And money was spent on it – the taxpayers’ money. A lot of money! What happened after is very much in the Georgian political tradition – eradicating both good and bad that are connecting us with previous governments! I would definitely get rid of anything that is in our people’s way to be better off, but I would not bother to reject the things that might still be helpful even if those things are inherited from erstwhile authorities. The palace that was built in Tbilisi as a presidential office and residence looks gorgeous and I thought it could serve our state as the White House has proudly been serving the people and the government of the United States of America in a very long time.
First lady
The ardent and extended talk in media, and beyond, about First Lady and her role in our society is clearly symptomatic. It is an indication that Georgia has matured as a working democracy and it is firmly on its way of westernizing itself for real.
Are two heads really better?
Georgia now has a new President which is good. Or is it? Our democratically organized state has followed a couple of existing western examples to build its democratic statehood. We have not based it on only European or only on American political paradigms. Our constitution has borrowed bits from here and bits from there, and finally we received something good enough for our modern national state to proceed with its development successfully, but I don’t think the model is optimal and rational enough for turning Georgia into a functioning strong democracy.
Leaders, leaders, leaders...
I have said this many times, and I am saying it again... Georgia is a classic example of a country whose most valuable production is a leader as such. It is the most popular commodity we have ever created industrially. We produce leaders. That’s what we do! We are the most prolific nursery of leaders in the entire human world. All of us are leaders – the entire nation!
GJ Editor's comment
17 April, 2014
Do we remember the celebrated text of the Preamble to the United States Constitution? Isn’t it amazing that it so accurately fits into the best political beliefs of the Georgian people? Listen to this slightly altered version of the Preamble, tailored on Georgia: We the people of SAKARTVELO, in order to form a more perfect republic, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity...
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