‘Would some power the giftie gie us
To see ourselves as others see us’
Since 1945 we have looked askance at Russia and Russia has looked askance at the West. We see Russia as a problematic place. We hope that, one day, Russia will be free just as we are.
We think we are the standard by which all other lands should be measured. We really do think ourselves top dog.
But if we could see ourselves as Putin sees us we would then understand how and why he feels threatened by the West, and why he has attacked in Ukraine. This is not to excuse Putin. It is to understand him, and as Robert Burns so wisely pointed out in his poem about a louse, if we saw ourselves through the eyes of others, we would be saved from many a foolish notion.
It is not for us to change Russia. That is for the Russian people. It is for us to change ourselves into wiser people and to see the world through eyes other than our own.
We think ourselves virtuous and Russia wicked. This is not the case. We are involved in trying to live peaceably in a troubled world. We begin by trying to see ourselves in a clearer light than we usually do.
If you wish to negotiate with an opponent, the first thing you must do is understand them, and see things from their point of view. Without that effort on both sides, there can be no meeting of minds. Without a meeting of minds we enter the war of words and then war itself.
In all our arguments and battles we must constantly purify ourselves. I want a clean fight, the boxing referee used to say.
3 February 2023