Thursday, August 21, 2008

In War & Peace

Amidst numerous speculations about the situation in Georgia and the relationship between Georgia and Russia that has escalated to a political conflict between the two nations over the past couple weeks, many have tried to place the blame on both leaderships depending on the country of origin of the media source and their political affiliation.

On a personal note, I have found it to be a rather tricky political game way out of my apolitical reach to judge this or that political party, but at the end of the day, trying to remain unbiased initially, I realized that common sense can at times be much more valuable and objective than a direct affiliation with one leadership or another.

When your home country is under attack by the country where you spent your entire formative years, it is at the very least a personal dilemma...

Having spent most of my childhood in Moscow after my family moved to Russia when the civil war broke out in Georgia around the time of the Soviet collapse, I quite naturally made friends for life in Russia, studied in both Moscow-based international school and the Moscow State University and also made my very first steps in my musical career opening the first Russian film festival in Cannes at the age of 14 - all of this took place during the years I spent living in Moscow, the capital of the country that is now in war with my country of origin, Georgia.

I keep reminding myself that any political conflict is between politicians and not civilians, therefore, friends that have become my other family back in Russia and our close ties both historically and personally between the two nations should not have to suffer from these recent tragic events that took place between Georgia and Russia in South Ossetia and beyond. But at the same time, there's an inner conflict that makes all of this far more complicated to handle than mere words on paper and biased news here, there and everywhere (so is the nature of the media speculations and journalistic wars between different sources, unfortunately.)

This evening I came across a couple of interviews by Eduard Shevardnadze, who is best known for his role as Soviet foreign minister under Mikhail Gorbachev. The man who helped end the Cold War and reconcile Moscow with the West later ruled his native Georgia for a decade, albeit not too successfully perhaps as his presidency resulted in a hugely publicized overthrow in the "rose revolution" triggered by the youthful, pro-Western Mikheil Saakashvili in 2003.

But that aside, even the former Georgian President admitted that this current conflict between the two neighboring countries could only have lose-lose consequences for all parties concerned, including Russia: " Whatever the price, we have to fix the relationship between Georgia and Russia. For two centuries we have lived together..."

"Georgia was a Russian colony for more than 200 years ... But this is the 21st century, the time for colonies is over. Georgia now has the strong support of the outside world," Eduard Shevardnadze told Reuters earlier today. And it is true.

This war is beginning to affect the civilians and those who lived as neighbors for years on end. With so many Georgians living in Russia (and Russians, too, do live in Georgia and have been known for having mixed Geo-Ru marriages for so long now) how do they live together in peace, for every one of us is entitled to defending their own country and leadership - except that's not always positive, given the magic of "common sense" and open-minded understanding of the bigger picture.

Another point that Shevardnadze made in his interview to Reuters, which really is well on the money was the explanation of how a Georgian mind works... That is, with regards to how like everywhere else, the country and its citizens were split into pro-Saakashvilians and those against his politics and actions.

"You know what mistake the Russian leadership is making when they say they don't want to deal with Saakashvili - that he should resign and only when there is a new president, they will start a new conversation with Georgia? Previously, when the military campaign in Tskhinvali failed, and Georgians subjected Saakashvili to serious criticism, most of the people were against the president. But when Russia began to ask for his resignation, most of the people began to support him. It is the Georgian nature, you have to understand."

And this is coming from the man who was overthrown by Saakashvili in 2003! At times, good diplomacy really works - especially at times like these.

All of this said, the dilemma remains the same - when a war breaks out so close to home with another country that became my surrogate home for years while I lived, studied, made friends and learned the ABCs of life and took my first musical steps, I can't help but feel torn...

But at the end of the day, when I hear the news - from sources other than those of Georgian or Russian affiliation - about Georgian people, my people, suffering as a result of this tragic conflict, living in fear day to day, expecting the war to resume any day (and let's hope this really is the end), that's when I realize that no matter what, it's the civilians affected by any political conflict whatsoever who are the ones suffering the most - there are no winners in such cases, never.

I find it to be ridiculous when the media start to speculate about the winners and losers of the war. It's very sad. But that's the nature of journalism, I guess - everything has to have a logical beginning-middle-and the end, otherwise the story won't stand the editorial examination prior to deciding whether the material deserves a column or not.

One last thing - when I was little, I couldn't really understand the mass obsession with the pompous "world peace" propaganda in every corner of the world and in every industry, including music. And as it turns out years later, ultimately this is all we can really hope and pray for (alongside health and well-being of the ones we love) because everything else is so minuscule and so very trivial...

Finally this really is starting to makes sense now - "world peace" isn't just a pompous demand, it really is the core of it all, the big goal that we, the humanity, strive to achieve in this struggle against war - any war, be it the one on a large political scale or the war within us and among us as people.

And everything else... Well, we've just go to keep it in perspective. It is so easy to take the security of the countries we live in for granted, and at moments like this, you just realize how quickly for some people that security can go - practically overnight...

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