First keep the peace within yourself, then you can also bring peace to others.
Thomas a Kempis (1380-1471)
God made us all different and not similar to each other. We may have different colour of skin, speak different languages, eat different food, and have different views on life, nevertheless we have to remember that at the same time we are all unique, and therefore have to learn to live together in peace.
But how ruefully it would sound seven times out of ten when it comes to our everyday life: we don’t want to put up with the fact that the salesman of the vegetables in the market wasn’t polite to us (because he is not Russian), that our new neighbour doesn’t say “Hi!” (he is also not Russian). Our negative attitude towards people of other nationalities becomes bigger and bigger. Bathing in our bad emotions, we forget that we were the first who said rude words in the talk with the salesman, that when we saw our new neighbour for the first time we eyed him from head to foot and didn’t say anything to his “HI!”...
A problem can’t appear out of nothing; it certainly has a foundation. And what is it? How do we come from common situations to slogans like “Russia for Russians” and “Moscow for Muscovites”? there are a number of elements which are leading to what we now have in our society.
First of all, I think the most important is the growth of distrust in people of other nationalities. Too much bad was done, for example by particular people from the Caucasus to Russians, so that we begin to forget that not all people from there are bad and not all Russians are good. There are just bad and good people in the world and it doesn’t depend on ethnicity.
The second reason is personal experience. We are made so that we remember bad and unpleasant things longer. So a rude word, an impolite gaze cast at a young lady, and things like this may leave a deep mark in a person’s mind. And negative feelings from just one episode may be transferred to racial hatred. It is like a snowball which was pushed from the top of the mountain.
The third reason, I think, is because big cities are overcrowded. The city can’t take as many as would like to live there. For example, the number of Moscow citizens is more than 11,000,000 and because of immigration from day to day, it is higher. So long queues, crowds of people in the streets, and overfull buses make us feel like fish in sardine tins. Certainly in this situation city dwellers are not pleased by lots of newcomers.
But our “quests” not only claim a place to live, but also a place to work here. As all of us remember, there was a great regression in Russian economics in 1993, that made millions of people unemployed. Mostly the aspiration to get a well-paid job makes people angry in the case of failure. And maybe because of the extreme conditions in which people from the outskirts find themsrlves they are more ambitious and succeed quickly. They have nobody to rely on, to help them, so often they are much more successful. And the city natives don’t like it.
When a citizen who has a common wage watches a man prosper who some years before came from a remote area with nothing in his pocket, he feels spite, and later he may wreak his anger on another visitor. Because people feel that they are wrek, they try to defend themselves and the best protection is attack. It is in the human blood to protect oneself from strangers.
Lately, the difference between rich and poor became too obvious. The society divided into two opposite sides. Surely both sides are made up of natives and visitors, but the issue is that a particularly poor Russians would look with more spite at a rich newcomer than at a more successful native. Poverty often brings out the worst in people, and three-quarters of Russian people live below the poverty line.
I’ll try to single out some more reasons. When people live all their lives in one place, their personal views on all subjects become narrow. They talk to the same people and haven’t got opportunities to talk to foreigners, or even they just don’t want to. And how can they break the barriers without expanding their “world”?
The most terrible aspect is the fact that young people are the most hostile. You can hear threatening words even from twelve year old boys. And why is it so? We all know that children try to copy the behaviour of grown-ups, because it seems to them right and true.
If things continue like this, what will be in the future? In what kind of society will we live?
We have to realise that this problem can’t wait and we have to find both immediate and long-term solutions now!