This triggers many Americans. Russians find it reassuring.

Here are some photos released by Interfax from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s vacation on a lake in Tyva Republic in Siberia:

The Russian media claimed that the foreign media expressed admiration for how healthy the old boy is. That’s not what I read. The American and British media have responded with anything thinly-veiled contempt to ridicule. A large fraction of the population of the USA and Europe are easily offended by photos like these, because they’ve been conditioned to hate…

  • masculinity, which is often qualified as “toxic”.
  • Russians, due to propaganda ultimately motivated by a desire to go to war with them
  • that cross dangling from a chain around his neck
  • any culture that isn’t post-Modern

Just to be clear, I’m not the least bit offended. I think it’s weird that so many other people are. Russians find them reassuring. “He’s just a regular guy. And in great shape for his age! A strong, manly, patriotic leader.” Americans would have thought the same thing through about the 1950s, though the changes we’ve been through since then were already in motion by then; it just took a while for them to spread from the avant-garde to the mainstream.

While I was looking for these specific photos I found more that are probably even a lot more triggering for certain personalities and mindsets. Russian media has far more photography of military equipment and personnel than US and western European. Also a lot of other macho imagery, like Siberian tigers and rugged-looking industrial-workers. But here is one that offends on so many counts (men, soldiers, nationalism, tradition, religious observation, all mixed together…) it’s over-the-top:

Servicemen during the procession from the church of the Prophet Elijah to Red Square during the celebration of the Day of the Airborne Forces of the Russian Federation

The photograph makes very clear one point that is still lost on a surprising number of British and Americans: Russia is not the Soviet Union. We are!

I’d like to do another blog post about this cultural clash, and specifically from the point of view of Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory. At the risk of putting words into his mouth (but one of his associates has already said exactly what I am going to claim he’d say), Wilber would probably claim that by “regressing” to Amber level values, they are guilty of a “pre-trans fallacy”, that is, thinking that they’ve solved the problem of Modernity by regressing to pre-Modernity instead of transcending it.

I counter-claim that regressing to functional Amber is preferable to the dysfunctional evolutionary dead-end of Green.


Namaste! The Divine within me honors the Divine within you. I tell stories about lessons I've learned the hard way. Follow @KalkinTrivedi on Twitter.