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Learning from Each Others’ Cultures

This war in Ukraine is reminding me how two countries, Russia and Ukraine, belong to rich and extraordinary cultures. They are part of the tapestry of wonderful cultures in humankind in all its diversity and wonderful richness (listen to podcast here). So, this conflict made me even more interested in trying to learn the history of that part of the world. It also brought back to the surface of my memory the many incredible cultural productions coming from these two countries; philosophy, films, poetry, arts.

It also brought me back to my teenage years where I spent many hours experiencing some of these works of art coming from incredible movie makers. I spent several years of my teenage years in a city in France. This was a time, at the end of the seventies, when the communist party in France made a significant push in local municipal elections. So at the end of the seventies, a communist mayor was elected in my town. The immediate impact of that election brought further tightening of relationships with the Soviet apparatus, especially in the field of cultural activities. This is how the Soviet Union at that time was activating its influence. Nowadays, we would say that it’s about soft power.

For me, it meant that many movies from the Soviet era were shown in my little provincial city. That’s how I discovered Eisenstein, Tarkovsky and many more. I was mesmerized, and to this day, these are some of the best and most mind-bending films I have ever seen in my life. Of course, I am just telling you about these old guard movie makers, but there are also many more contemporary directors from that part of the world who deserve full attention.

Of course, back then in that movie theater in my little town, or two other movie theaters in Paris, it was more than about Ukraine or Russia. It was about a fascinating discovery that came from the other side of the Iron Curtain.

So I thought I should share this with you, because, right in the middle of the war we are witnessing right now, we should not forget that it’s about trying to learn more about that fascinating culture and history. That’s what makes it so painful. But the pain is certainly about the Ukrainian people, those who are suffering from the current terrible circumstances.

These are the thoughts that came to me. What’s coming to my mind these days is about making sure we are not falling into the trap of hating each other. It would be so easy to pitch one people against another, but I am realizing that it is a lot more complex than it appears. It’s indeed extremely painful to witness two countries that are tied in so many ways in this conflictual situation. And the same is happening in many other places on that planet, where several cultures are part of the same family, but instead are fighting against each other.

Let me know if you have questions, feel free to comment and looking forward to talking to you,


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