Our guests have returned home, and we have a brief lull until the next visitors arrive.
It is disgustingly quiet in the house, and we are all going through some sort of detox. We are each trying to find activities to fill an otherwise dull day. Kimmy prepared invitations for her birthday (we plan on inviting a few of her friends and have Becky entertain them in our garden), Becky caught up on reading and TV-watching, Natasha busied herself with chores around the house, while I spent most of the day catching up on family finances and cleaning up some loose ends. I also planned to work on making my office space neater than it is now – ever since the personality test, I feel an extra urge to do some tidying up – but somehow never worked up enough strength to follow through on that. So much for being a neat-freak, as the test results suggest. Was lazy lost somewhere in between of dependable, reliable, responsible, etc…?
Natasha and I are going out with a colleague of mine tonight – hopefully, that will further help to take the edge off, and then it is just a few days until we see another set of close friends, followed by another exciting trip to the continent.
We actually started working on it last night, inviting Kimmy’s school friend Gabriella and her parents over. While the kids were playing, the adult conversation progressed from subject to subject, and then firmly centered on America-versus-Russia debate, which turned into a rather heated exchange.
Valera is very pro-Russian and anti-American, with strong feelings about America’s “unlawful interference” into “internal” affairs of other countries, and with a view of the world that is closely aligned with that perpetuated by the Russian not-very-independent media. He read somewhere a quote attributed to Brzezinski about America’s stated goal to unilaterally rule the world (I have a feeling that it was a distorted translation, but I’ll have to spend some time to see if such quote truly exists) – and it certainly colors his opinions. He also carries the conviction that in America people routinely get fired for their political views (I stooped low enough to retort that in Russia, they actually get murdered, re: Politkovskaya).
In any case, I am not a Bush lover or a war apologist, but I certainly believe in most of what America stands for, including a certain moral obligation of the biggest and the strongest to stand up to tyranny and oppression elsewhere (if only we were consistent in applying this moral right…). I also read enough different press – almost none of it American, these days, – to recognize growing constraints on democracy and the rise of Putin’s personality cult in Russia. Long story short, I jumped headlong into the debate.
Regretful! As much as Valera builds his view of America on specious misconceptions trumpeted up by anti-American media, there is no way to convince him that most of it lacks verity. Conversely, despite some newfound stability in Russia over the last few years, no one can convince me that authoritarianism is preferable to democracy (of course, I admit, I define democracy in very American terms; Valera is quite convinced that what goes on in Russia today is the true democracy, while American way is all about who has more money – there’s got to be a bit of truth in that, right?). As a result, the only thing we can accomplish arguing our points of view is putting a dent in our otherwise friendly relationship, which would be a shame.
At some point, we did recognize the need to agree to disagree. We even both joked about practicing true form of democracy – healthy dialogue about different points of view. But I think we’ll both try to steer away of it in the future. Karaoke works so much better for camaraderie!