Russian Correspondent January 2017

Beyond the Headlines

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Throughout my years of service in this country it feels like I have been constantly trying to explain that most Americans do not see Russia as their enemy. After the fall of the Soviet Union most people in the U.S. (or so it seems to me) thought something along the lines of - “well, we've won the Cold War and now we're concerned with other things,” whether it be the economy, terrorism, or any of the myriad of other domestic and global challenges that we face. This year, though, things have changed. And not for the better. After years of seeing the state sponsored Russian press find any and every excuse to paint America in a bad light, it seems like our society (with its free press) is doing the same thing with Russia. I believe that being critical (in particular, self-critical) is helpful and important; without getting into details or suggesting a false equivalence I recognize that there are good reasons why both our countries should be targets of criticism. That's true if it turns out that the stories of Russian hackers influencing the election ends up being 100% true, 100% false or (as usual) somewhere in between. Yet now that escalation of demonization has become mutual, it seems that we're reaching a point where no reasonable voices get heard, where complex pictures become caricatures and where all we know are the most shocking of headlines.