September 4th, 2016 - Fort Russ News -
- op-ed - By Yakov Germanov -
Katehon recently ran an article about the Russian Federation possibly offering to open it’s gates to cultural refugees from the western world. I decided that I should author a piece about this subject – because I am in fact myself a cultural refugee from the western world who lives in Russia, myself.
To be clear I consider myself a cultural refugee, not an expat. An Expat is a person who leaves a country and resides in another country not as a citizen but as a guest. A cultural refugee is a person who enters a country to become part of its culture because his origin culture is diseased. I work my best to assimilate to Russian cultural norms, and given my Slavic origins it is not particularly difficult. As my ancestors dreamed about leaving Europe for a better life in the USA, I dreamt about leaving the USA for a better life in Europe.
My first few visits back to Europe were – well, enjoyable, but they did not quite “fit” me. I had seen Denmark, Sweden, France, Holland, and Switzerland, which while all were quite nice – a variety of factors led me to visit Russia next. When I got on my first plane to Russia, I didn’t know what to expect, as my Russian-Polish ancestors who left there so long ago never had much good to say about it, though I grew up with my grandmother drinking Stolichnaya (during the cold war!) and her cooking borscht and pelmeni. I grew up wearing Topachki (similar to slippers, but a lot of people, myself included use sandals – mine are Adidas, of course). It was during my first visit to Moscow that I really felt a strong sense of “home”, and knew that Russia was the country for me.
|Russian school children with a special visitor|
Why did I need to leave the USA? A lot of factors, but essentially I will say it has to do with the dislike of individualism as the state religion. Individualism, we are told in the west, is freedom to be “yourself”. But what does that really mean? Are all societies who are non-individualistic by their nature, anti-freedom? Can freedom only exist in the narrow sense of being free to dye one’s hair weird colors without comment, or burn bibles, or get piercings all over their faces? There are other forms of freedom : the freedom to have an opinion on politically incorrect subjects, a freedom one does not have in America… the freedom to start a traditional family… the freedom to buy antibiotics without a prescription when you are sick…. the freedom to be a normal person who likes “traditional gender roles” if one chooses… the freedom to live in a country with one’s own people as the majority instead of mass migration replacing them… the freedom to walk down the street with your children and not see naked dancing men groping each other… How about those kinds of freedom?
|"Freedom" in America - homeless camps spring up across the US. This one's in Portland, Oregon.|
Freedom is not the only thing to make a society good; and while it is necessary, community is necessary as well. A Russian friend will drive in the middle of the night to help you; no matter the cost. People at the Rynok (market) talk and discuss things and genuinely care what you say, not just wait for you to stop speaking. I have had Russians come to me when I was destitute and homeless during my second trip to Russia, and pay for hotels for me, give me money, food, free rides in their taxis. I had been homeless for a bit and rather than go home I stayed here because I wanted to be a Russian citizen so bad that I endured homelessness and poverty and joblessness many times to stay in this country. Russians laugh at me; they say “you’re insane, you can just got to USA and live a good life!” but will I? I will not because my soul doesn’t belong in that place. Now my Russian friends shake their heads and smile because they see how stubborn I am. They know I’m not leaving.
I thought about this recently on a trip to Volgograd, where the city’s significance would cement the reflections I have had recently… [to be continued in part two]
Follow us on Facebook!
Follow us on Twitter!