Depending on who you talk to and where you hear the news, it may appear that Russia is really bringing the heat when it comes to its recent and ambitious Ukrainian pursuits. These countries are clearly in conflict, but all too often government interests trickle down and pollute the clear mindedness of individual people who are generally peaceful, compassionate or at least well-meaning.
One of my dear friends is Natalie, and brace yourself--she is from Russia. When she visits the U.S. I try to stay away from political conversations because she is here to relax, but today she shared with me that some Russian-Ukrainian friendships have been severed due to the political tensions between the two countries. This was very sad to me. Imagine! Two friends who cared about each other are split apart because of anger which is caused by the decisions of governments. I thought about whether I could ever be angry enough at Putin to hate Natalie, or if she could be angry enough at Obama to hate me. Countries rise and fall and struggle to overtake each other but surely friends do not.
This happens all over the world--in the Americas, the Middle East, Asia, Europe and so on. News agencies and politicians encourage the division as the headlines get juicier and juicier-- Russia-U.S. relations are chilly, but is this another Cold War, Vladimir Putin has unleashed forces that even he can’t control, and "A strong Russia is good for Europe!".
As a child in Jamaica, there was a billboard on the freeway that said "Attack the problem, not the people," and while I don't know specifically what that was referring to, I know that Natalie has nothing to do with the tense position the world is in. So tomorrow we might go surfing, like we did in previous years or we might sing karaoke and I will find time to pray for Ukrainians and Russia alike, but one thing we will never do is look at an individual from any country and hate them immediately for any atrocities that have occurred on a governmental level.