A reader’s comment in another blog:
To me, one thing that was added in my learning about Russia, in St. Petersburg in that single moment in the Russian museum was this: as the young (very pretty) lady was guiding us and explaining the great paintings – as the beginning of our ‘class in Russian history’ in pictures :
Which painting I was talking about? The one she (the guide) said is so dear to Russians everywhere – with the warrior on the horse – already tired from fighting – of invaders, tyrants, oppressors – and giving away the treasures he found – and still not done – he can’t even choose to go home because there was more to do in the distance.
She said that this particular painting depicted ‘The Russian Slav before Orthodoxy – the Primitive Russia , the Primitive Slav’. And she explained ‘to us, when we refer to primitive Slav and Russia, it is not a bad word, it means something like ‘spring time’ the ‘dawn’ of something we hope will be wonderful, when all the promises of the good future are still ahead of us’…..
And I found in that single moment of her explanations: ‘this is where it all starts, long before the christian faith (came to Russia) there was ‘something’ deep in the Slavic soul that fights for justice and help for those that are weaker against those that would oppress’…
And so, to me, as many of you have just mentioned, of this beyond political system – and therefore something that transcends the ‘different eras’ of the Russian world, and across religions and ethnicity. There is this binding strength – that Slavic ‘primitive conscience’ that the young lady in the museum was explaining to us.
And that is why I think that the Russian world, guided by the inner ‘Slavic primitive soul’ -could embrace all the others in epoch or faiths or political ideas, pass through them, enrich them and bind them together in the peaceful way that Russia as a ‘world’ continue in ‘becoming’. like a constantly renewing ‘Spring Time’.
That’s the way I think now of the ‘Russian world’ – at its heart, before any faiths that define its parts now, was something that was – itself alone – Slavic and lives on whether as communists, USSR, Czar times, irreligious, Islamic, Orthodox, Buddhist, Animist, Shamanistic (such as still exist in parts of Russia), capitalist, or whatever. Something binds it all across the ‘boundaries’. indeed – a Soul. I don’t know if that even makes sense.
But I always had this sense in St. Petersburg that ‘these people have a sense – an unspoken sense of real concern for the welfare of all the other members of their society’. That they do not exist only for themselves as individuals but seem to find real meaning in their belonging to Russian.
And it’s really beyond ‘patriotism’ as people usually talk about – but a sense of ‘identification’ with each other because they have an unspoken ‘compactness’ with each other – in traditions, across their faiths’s boundaries, their origins throughout Russian world – that they only belong with each other because they have the conscience to be part of this world by upholding a concern for the welfare of each other as the binding force of their society.
I can not stop thinking how wonderful it was to observe.