Soon after Russia invaded the Ukraine, I posted this plea to Pray for Russia. Over a year later, the need is greater still.
I'm a child of the Cold War, accustomed to thinking of Russia as the Enemy. (More accurately, the Soviet Union, but "Russia" was a common catch-all term.) Right up until the Berlin Wall came down and Communism in Eastern Europe fell with it. After that, despite a certain amount of sabre-rattling, we enjoyed a thirty-year period of vastly improved relationships, especially on the people-to-people level. Travel between our countries became easier, and Americans and Russians found room in their hearts for friendship, appreciation, and mutual respect.
We even planned a visit to St. Petersburg, and scheduled it for September of 2020. We all know how that worked out. That's one evil that can't be laid at Vladimir Putin's door.
The Hermitage is now forever out of reach for me. True, I never thought I'd be able to travel to Cuba, and yet we did, in 2017. Nonetheless, my imagination won't stretch to my living long enough for Russian-American relations to get back to the casual tourist level.
It's easy, once again, to see Russia as the Enemy. It's hard not to fly the Ukrainian flag in our hearts, since they were the ones who were invaded, even if we know that the situation is more complicated than we want to believe. (Wars always are.)
It may be tempting to view today's news of potential Civil War in Russia as a positive sign, but I think that's misguided. It's naïve in the extreme to believe that Putin's downfall could only be an improvement.
Pray for Russia. For our sakes as well as theirs.
I'll leave the last word to J. R. R. Tolkien.
For a while the hobbits sat in silence. At length Sam stirred. "Well, I call that neat as neat," he said. "If this nice friendliness would spread about in Mordor, half our trouble would be over."
"Quietly, Sam," Frodo whispered. "There may be others about. We have evidently had a very narrow escape, and the hunt was hotter on our tracks than we guessed. But that is the spirit of Mordor, Sam; and it has spread to every corner of it. Orcs have always behaved like that, or so all tales say, when they are on their own. But you can’t get much hope out of it. They hate us far more, altogether and all the time. If those two had seen us, they would have dropped all their quarrel until we were dead."
"It is a pity that our friends lie in between," said Gimli. "If no land divided Isengard and Mordor, then they could fight while we watched and waited."
"The victor would emerge stronger than either, and free from doubt," said Gandalf.