Friday, February 16, 2007

An open letter to the readership…

This is just a short note to all of you who have made the first week of business for a success. When I bought into the idea of making a .com, and this was… I don't really know- a couple of months ago? I guess I could look it up but I won't. In any case, when I first had the idea to do this, my main thought was that unifying the whole blog group into a single package would allow for both a clearer explication of the issues that got me doing this in the first place, and also an avenue to show things that don't usually get shown about Belarus. At least this was the idea and I hope I have done a good job so far.

It seems to me there are still bugs to be worked out, technical issues and styles of dealing with content. I suppose within a few months the look of the site might just be completely different. Or maybe it will be the same. But for right now I am going to have to say that at least for the moment, I am satisfied with it. Well, I am happy with what I see. Ok, I can't explain it; I am just not going to worry about it for a moment and have a day's rest. Yea, that says it: I am pretty tired right now.

But if there is one more thing to talk about before I shut down the computer, it is that I really hope that if nothing else people might come to understand that Belarus is not exactly how she has been portrayed in the media. It is not a chaotic place by any means; it is not fat on Russian gas dollars. In fact Belarus is not a rich country at all and no matter what you might read, there was never any huge benefit over the last couple of years from Russian Gas. The noises you hear from the Russian media sounds like Belarus has gotten fat, but believe me from first hand experience this is the furthest thing from the truth.

The real truth is that there has been in all of the former Soviet states absolute poverty across the board for the last decade and a half. And I mean serious, starvation type poverty. If anything, the last two years, as Russia deiced to up the price of oil to the EU, there was some lessening of the burdens and life got a little better around here. There was some landscaping done around town. There was some paint put on houses which had received none forever. Wages for workers came up to maybe $150- $200 a month and Pensions went up to $100 to $200. But this is not riches.

But whether it is because of the media or simply because of ignorance, there is no sympathy for Belarus right now. Well, that is not true. If you roam a bit around the web looking for Belarusian News and Facts, you do start to find that people have at least taken an interest in this little country in the middle of Europe. It is a shame that most any search will be filled with ugly political comments and screaming and yelling (in print) because that is really and truly NOT what Belarus is all about. Maybe all the noise is there to keep things stirred up, or maybe it is there simply to counter acts the calming effects of togetherness, but in any case it missed the point. But there is some hope, some bloggers out there who have warm hearts yet and are not so fast to agree to hate and mistrust one's fellow man. There isn't much, but it is out there.

So maybe this is what I am doing. Maybe all of this is just to say that coming to Belarus was not a crazy idea, it was something I did for my soul and I have not regretted my decision since I have come. If I could go back I time and see the whole Zaremba Poland thing out in front of me, would I still hit the son-of-a-bitch? Yea. I probably would have hit him harder AND kicked in the front, the back, the sides of his car….

But I digress.

What I am trying to say is that I came here because to me, to my eyes. Ears, heart and soul, Belarus was and still is about peace. And because of this, because this is a place I have chosen to live in, I would like to re-clarify what the beinghad website is supposed to be about: It's about Peace for Belarus.

This is what I really want. This is pretty much what led me to believe that I had found something special the first time I came here in 1997. Belarus was peaceful.

It seems to me that when you live in the states, or in Europe, a great deal of your time and money is spent trying to relax and find something that resembles rest, or peace. Sex, drugs, religion, movies, tv, fast food… Isn't all out there just to provide an illusion of a moment's rest?

Well, you know they did this here for each other way back in the day. They allowed each other a sense of peace, acceptance and well being. And it was a peaceful place. It still is, if you know how to speak the language. The first two stanzas of the national anthem are "We are Belarusians, peaceful people; our heart is to our native land"

Lukashenka speaks the language, by the way. This doesn't make him a politician, in the ugly sense that the pundits have been labeling him forever and especially of late. It just makes him svoix. It makes him from here. I know people here believe in him. I know this for a fact.

And if there is any "say what you want them to hear" going on in Belarus, really, it is directed at the Western Media. A good example of this are those lyrics from the Ksenia Sitniki song from Eurovision I have over on page three of The original lyrics were kind of smudged over in the translation Belarus Television offered to avoid having it sound too much like it really was.
But we sat together, Tanya and I and worked out pretty much word for word. And after, we both understood exactly why a ten-year-old girl would love to sing such a song, and also what country that girl had come from.

So as a last word before I take my day off, let's try and think about peace for Belarus just a little. Peace for Belarus. I don't think it really has to be just another slogan for a t-shirt, I think it can be an idea that might just mean something to a whole lot of people who have been screeching and yelling without really understand why they had been asked to scream about the first place.

How about it? Peace for Belarus. Kind of catchy, don't you think?

More soon…