By David Swanson
As of this writing, 7,269 people in the United States, and rising steadily, have posted messages of friendship to the people of Russia. They can be read, and more can be added at RootsAction.org.
People’s individual messages are added as comments endorsing this statement:
To the people of Russia:
We residents of the United States wish you, our brothers and sisters in Russia, nothing but well. We oppose the hostility and militarism of our government. We favor disarmament and peaceful cooperation. We desire greater friendship and cultural exchange between us. You should not believe everything you hear from the American corporate media. It is not a true representation of Americans. While we do not control any major media outlets, we are numerous. We oppose wars, sanctions, threats, and insults. We send you greetings of solidarity, trust, love, and hope for collaboration on building a better world safe from the dangers of nuclear, military, and environmental destruction.
Robert Wist, AZ: A world of friends is far better than a world of enemies. – I wish for us to be friends.
Arthur Daniels, FL: Americans and Russians = friends forever!
Peter Bergel, OR: After meeting many different kinds of Russians on my trip to your beautiful country last year, I am especially motivated to wish you well and to resist the efforts of my government to create enmity between our countries. Together our countries should lead the world toward peace, not further conflict.
Charles Schultz, UT: All of my friends and I have nothing but love, and the utmost respect, for the Russian people! We are not your enemies! We want to be your friends. We do not agree with our government, the members of congress, the president, any of the agencies of government that are constantly accusing Russia of every problem, not only here in the US, but also throughout the entire world!
James & Tamara Amon, PA: As someone that visits Russia (Borovichi, Koyegoscha and Saint Petersburg) every year, I can assure you that most Americans only want peace. I married a beautiful Russian lady, and can honestly say that I love Russia, her people, food, and life style. I trust the people of both USA and Russia, it is the politicians that I don’t trust.
Carol Howell, ME: As someone with acquaintances in Russia, and having much respect for your efforts to clean up and preserve the environment, I extend a hand in friendship.
Marvin Cohen, CA: Both of my grandfathers immigrated to the US from Russia–I wish you well.
Noah Levin, CA: Dear citizens of Russia, – I send you all my best wishes and friendship, hoping that you achieve a satisfying life in these difficult times.
Deborah Allen, MA: Dear Friends in Russia, I look forward to the day when we will hold hands circling the earth. We breathe the same air and enjoy the same sunshine. Love is the answer.
Ellen E Taylor, CA: Dear Russian People, – We love you and admire you! – We will do everything we can to control our imperialistic government policies…..
Amido Rapkin, CA: Having grown up in Germany and now living in the US – I am asking for forgiveness to any injustice done to your country by our countries.
Bonnie Mettler, CO: Hello Russian Friends! We would like to meet you and talk to you. I know that we both share the same desires — to live safe, happy, and healthy lives and leave the earth for all of our children and grandchildren to enjoy.
Kenneth Martin, NM: I have extended family, love them very much. I have spent a lot of time in southwestern Siberia (Barnaul) to be close to them!
Maryellen Suits, MO: I have read Tolstoy and Chekov and Dostoyevsky. These authors have helped me to know you, and I send you love and hope. We Americans who oppose our new president could benefit from your love and hope as well. – Fondly, – Maryellen Suits
Anne Koza, NV: I have visited Russia 7 times. I love Russia and its culture and history. I wish the Russian people “All the best.”
Elizabeth Murray, WA: I hope for the day that we can live together in peace without the shadow of nuclear war over our heads. I hope for the day that many billions currently being used to prepare for never-ending war will instead be used to prepare for never-ending peace.
Alexandra Soltow, St. Augustine, FL: The leadership of the US does not represent me or most of the people I know.
Anna Whiteside, Warren, VT: Just imagine a world without war where we can work together for bettering the world for all humankind.
Stephanie Willett-Shaw, Longmont, CO: The Russian people are a great people. Rock on!
Meghan Murphy, Shutesbury, MA: We are one global family. We can love our homeland but not always our governments.
Mark Chasan, Puducherry, NJ: Greetings from real American people who want mutual friendship, understanding, loving kindness, unity in diversity. We the people of the U.S. and Russia can build friendships, respect, new understandings and relationships that will bring us closer and lead to future peaceful and caring connections. It is a great way to lead our governments in the right direction.
Ricardo Flores, Azusa, CA: I always wish only the best for the Russian population, who I am sure feel misrepresented by some members of their governing power, just like many of us do, but the future of a peaceful Earth resides on our hands.
When I visit Russia this week I intend to bring a sampling of these messages of friendship. I will not claim that they represent a unanimous U.S. view, only that they represent an informed view and an under-reported view that contrasts with what Russians and the world hear directly and indirectly from U.S. corporate media all the time.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, allow me to reproduce here, without names attached, a handful of lovely emails from my in-box:
“And don’t forget to offer Putin all of Europe and let’s learn Russian so we can have Putin take over the USA. We should sent the same love letter to the heads of another Korea and Iran as well as ISIS – if you could get your head out of your a-s you see the dangers of your dumb position of gutting our military.”
“Fuck Russia! They gave that bastard TRUMP the election! I will NOT send friendship to them!”
“STUPID, they, under the burden of Putin, gave us TRUMP, the only thing to send to them is for the sake of PEACE is to dump Putin. You people are fools.”
“Sorry, While I consider myself a very progressive person, I won’t make ‘nice’ with Russia, with all the crap and invasions, and assignations of Russian progressives. . . and what about Syria, the chemical weapons, and atrocities…NO! I won’t make nice!”
“I do not like the militaristic actions of the Russian government–annexing Crimea, support of Assad in Syria. Why should I send Russians a letter condemning MY government?”
“This is complete bullshit. You guys are prostituting yourselves for that arch-criminal Vadimir [sic] Putin. David Swanson, better get your head examined before you visit Russia.”
Yeah, well, I’ve always been of the opinion that anyone not examining their own head constantly was in danger of complacency, which — if combined with television viewing or newspaper reading — can produce comments like those immediately above.
There are some 147 million people in Russia. As in the United States, the vast majority of them do not work for the government, and of course a much smaller number than in the United States work for the military, on which Russia spends some 8% of what the U.S. does, and declining steadily. I cannot imagine how impoverished this head of mine would be, as I examine it, were it lacking the time it has spent with Russian authors and music and painters — and I might say the same of U.S. culture as a whole: without the influence of Russia it would be radically reduced.
But imagine everything were otherwise, that the culture of Russia simply disgusted me. How on earth would that be a justification for mass-murder and the risk of nuclear apocalypse for all cultures on the planet?
The Russian government is clearly entirely innocent of numerous slanders and libels emanating from Washington, D.C., partially innocent of others, and shamefully guilty of yet others — including crimes that the U.S. government does not focus on condemning because it is so heavily engaged in committing them itself.
Granted, hypocrisy does not always silence. Former U.S. President Barack Obama has produced a campaign ad for a French presidential candidate, even as the U.S. government melts down over evidence-free charges that the Russian government interfered in the U.S. election by accurately informing the U.S. public how the election was being corruptly run. Meanwhile the United States has interfered, often quite openly, in over 30 foreign elections, including in Russia, since World War II, overthrown 36 governments in that time, attempted to assassinate over 50 foreign leaders, and dropped bombs on people in over 30 countries.
None of that justifies threatening the United States, sanctioning the U.S. economy, or putting weapons and troops on the U.S. border. Neither do the offenses of the Russian government justify such actions. Nor will anyone be helped in Russia or the world by such actions, any more than U.S. prison populations or fossil fuel consumption or racist police violence would be reduced by putting Russian tanks in Mexico and Canada or demonizing the U.S. on the world’s airwaves every day. Undoubtedly conditions for all within the United States would rapidly worsen following such actions.
A first step out of the madness we’re caught up in — I mean after turning off all televisions — might be to stop speaking of governments in the first person. You are not the U.S. government. You did not destroy Iraq and throw Western Asia into turmoil, any more than the people of Crimea who voted overwhelmingly to re-join Russia are the government of Russia guilty of having “invaded” themselves. Let’s take responsibility for reforming governments. Let’s identify with people — all people — the people of the earth, the people all over the United States who are us, and the people all over Russia who are us as well. We cannot be made to hate ourselves. If we extend friendship to all, peace will be inevitable.