I grew up in the simmering tide of the cold war. While I don’t remember bomb shelters and never practiced “duck and cover” under my school desk, tensions with the world’s other superpower were just below the surface. All the time.
That was clear to me because I also grew up in the fire of evangelical apocalypticism. While my pastor/father didn’t preach about the “end times,” it was just in the air – so I understood that we might be living in the “last days” and that Armageddon, when it came, was going to have something to do with the great Russian bear.
The word “Russia” still echoes with dimly fearful tones, and it doesn’t just connote national enmity; there’s a spiritual darkness that faintly hovers near. So, if there was ever a rival to beat, there was all the reason in this world and the next for it to be Russia. So it’s still a bitter pill to swallow to have to admit the truth…
Russia is winning.
And their plan is brilliant. They don’t need nuclear weapons. Words are weapons of even greater mass destruction. They don’t have to pull a single trigger. They know they could count on us to do all the sniping. Maybe worst of all, they beat us at our own game, on our own turf, using our own most coveted possession against us.
Don’t you know it brings a devilish smile of sadistic pride to the face of the entire Kremlin to know that democracy and free speech itself was the Achilles heel they used to bring us to the brink of destruction?
Russia is winning. The war is not conventional, but it is just as destructive, because it proves to us that the greatest enemy isn’t communist propaganda – just our own blinding affluence, because it is the success (and the great failures) afforded by our affluence that are the source of our division.
The recent indictment by the Mueller Investigation, charging 13 Russian nationals for interfering with the 2016 election, proved the depth of Russian knowledge about our weakness – in all its powerful pettiness. The only weapons the “Red Menace” needed in order to have their way in our “free election” was access to our own social media feeds and enough understanding of our penchant for self-destruction to bait us into caricaturing and demonizing and despising each other – almost to death.
It’s sad that you don’t even have to live here to see how much we have come to disdain each other. Russia employed human-created tweets and automated “bots” to ply our racial hatreds, our religious poisons, our cultural distinctions, and our ideological madnesses with methodical precision – enticing us into a war of words that has left us more fractured than we’ve been since we were Union and Confederate enemies.
Unfortunately, even our President cannot see that he is still a pawn in this simple, brilliant, demonic game of war. He insists there was “no collusion,” and indeed there is no need for collusion, as far as they are concerned, as long as we keep playing perfectly by their strategy: divide and conquer.
The opening act of creation has often been cited to note the power of words: “And God said, ‘Let there be…’” Words have always had world-changing power, and if we cannot learn a little respect and generosity for everyone, learn to bridle our tongues and silence our social media rages, God will have had the first word, but the Russians will get the last laugh.