Guest Blogged by Mark Sashine
There are two words in the Russian language addressing the same issue: Pravda and Istina. Pravda means the Truth. Istina- something more than just the Truth. It is the Truth at the Higher plane of existence.
Here are some examples:
1. It is the truth that the American war for Independence was not really a Revolution. It was a craftily designed colonial secession, orchestrated by a group of wealthy people frustrated with the fact that despite their wealth they were still treated as second-rate citizens by their British patrons. Yes, that’s Pravda. But if you read the Declaration of Independence, if you find out about Saratoga, about Benjamin Franklin, about Nathan Hale, about all those thousands who fought in the Continental Army, about Lafayette and about Benedict Arnold you understand that in the process, that war became something bigger than just a simple successful mutiny, that its cause became the good one, the cause of progress of Humanity. American war became an American Revolution, it earned the title fair and square. And that’s Istina.
2. It is the truth that the October Revolution in 1917 in Russia was executed by a party which grew up from a terrorist organization. Yes, that’s Pravda. It is the truth that that party took power illegitimately and then in order to win the Civil War unleashed the forces of terror much more horrible than any Jacobine in 1793 could possibly imagine. But if you look through that and “watch with an understanding eye” as one Russian poet sang, you will see the triumph and tragedy of the most glorious Russian nation, which survived that all, rose the country to enormous power, gained nuclear energy, sent the first person to space and in 1941-1945 saved Humanity from the darkness. That’s Istina- if there was no Russian Revolution, there would no be Free Russian people to fight and prevail over darkness.
3. It is the truth that 9/11 was a horrible crime. Those who did that, who rammed the airplanes into the towers are beyond contempt. It is Pravda. But it is Istina that our ruling elite did everything possible to conceal the real set of events, to avoid the trial and due process and to use this crime to unleash the crimes of their own. It is Istina that the memory of those who were killed on 9/11 had been trampled upon by the wars afterwards which killed more, much more.
4. It is the truth that those who ordered the nuclear bombardment of Hirosima and Nagasaki were good men. It is Pravda that they truly believed in the necessity of that act, that they were in fact saving American lives. But it is Istina that it was an act of murder, not self-defense. No explanations can help here, no distractions will do anything; murder it was and those who did that were murderers and those who explain it now are the accomplices in murder. Murdered were those people and we have to live with it.
“You do not argue with Istina,” say the Russians. That means that Istina is the final say. All bets are off, all opinions counted, all explanations heard. Istina is the final judgment and the argument is over. Of course, you may not agree but you can take your disagreement and show it. It is over.
Pravda is something purely factual, something you can touch. Istina is what you do with it. Istina presumes the application of your mind. It requires a deep effort, the usage of all the knowledge you possess, all the learning, all the skills. Istina demands passion and responsibility, compassion and conscience. It is in fact a revelation.
The best example of the difference between Pravda and Istina is given in the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. In the scene where Huck decides on his own to not to turn Jim in he changes from a child to an adult. As a child an American boy should turn the runaway slave to the authorities and collect a reward. As an adult a man named Huckleberry Finn knows that his friend Jim is equal to him and he loves his friend and protects him. It is Pravda that he had to obey the law. It is Istina that a law was inhumane and any adult should oppose it. Pravda thus is for children. Istina is for adults.
We here in the US, now, in the 21st century, are in the middle of the battle for Istina and the whole world watches us closely. For many years we indulged ourselves as overgrown children. We were lucky and we squandered it. Pravda became our God; we were told by our religious morality that we were not just children but exceptional ones, that Pravda was the final truth and Istina was none of our concern. Istina, we were told, belonged to God who worked in mysterious ways. We thus should be satisfied with Pravda and our media should make sure that we stay permanently happy in our ignorance. Yes, ignorance, because a person denied the right to search and obtain Istina is an ignorant beast. That exceptionalism, that jingoism, that moronic evil spread by hamburgers and bad beer all of that had a purpose to forever keep us in bondage of permanent childhood, the glass doors of which were inevitably eroding and were blown apart by 9/11. The world rushed in and we caved in horror and snapped in childish rage. That was Istina.
We need to solve real problems and we need real people to solve them. This statement from the movie An American President is a very adult one. The problems are Pravda. Our wars are Pravda, our BP spill is Pravda, Sarah Palin and her mad runt is Pravda, Obama’s cowardice is Pravda, Congress’s sellout is Pravda, economy collapsing is Pravda and the rise of the scum from everywhere is Pravda, What is Istina? Istina is that we need real people. Real people come only on equal basis. No one will help you if you are exceptional. WE MUST DROP THE EXCEPTIONALISM! Nobody will help you if you presume your superiority. WE MUST DROP SUPERIORITY ONCE AND FOR ALL! Nobody will help a hypocrite. WE MUST ASSUME RESPONSIBILITY FOR OUR ACTIONS. Nobody will help a malicious idiot. WE MUST ABANDON THE IDIOTIC PERCEPTION THAT WE ARE THE SHINING CITY ON THE HILL!
We are who we are. We screwed up badly and we need help. We abandoned the power of the people for hamburgers. We sold our power for Michelob and Bud. We became lazy and complacent, stupid, mean and incapable of sustainable life. We also celebrate all those nice qualities as virtues. We betrayed even our Lord Jesus Christ by selling Him to TV. We are drug users and the drug is credit. WE NEED HELP!
Acknowledge that. That’s Istina. Like a fire in the furnace it is there; you recognize it when it delivers a comfortable heat. But if it is not there, there is only a chilly draft and a smell of soot. Smell of death. Without Istina you die. Let’s light a fire and live.