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An Open Letter to Vladimir Putin
Make it right. Make it quick.
First and foremost, I want to start off by saying that I love you.
Your choices in the past three weeks have led to the death of over 20,000 innocent people — Ukrainians and Russians alike — but hating you won’t bring them back, nor will it make for a better tomorrow.
Like everyone else on this beautiful planet, you and I are, at most seventieth cousins. Two family members among nearly eight billion brothers and sisters who share one tiny little home called Earth.
We are also neighbors. You are from Russia, I am from Canada. We both think America is highly overrated, impossibly corrupt, and unfathomably violent.
I know you value strength and directness, and you will receive nothing less from me as an Enneagram Eight. To wit, I’m writing to you today in the hope that you will call off your “special operation” in Ukraine. It is a war crime; murder; genocide; and you know it.
But for some reason, you don’t care.
Every crime has a motive — what is yours? What is the real reason you are willing to see so many of your own men die, along with hundreds of neighboring civilians, including women and children?
It is my strong suspicion that, as you turn seventy this year, your great aim in life is no longer sex, money, possessions, or even power, but purpose and legacy.
I believe there is a way you can get both without bloodshed.
Option #1: Surrender
I suppose it would be too much to ask you to simply surrender to the United Nations, knowing it is a puppet of the United States of America?
You, of course, know the predicament in which you find yourself.
If you surrender, you will be tried for war crimes and executed.
Nor can you simply resign as the President of Russia and live out your days in peace. There is no retiring, no letting your guard down, no lasting happiness or moment of safety or peace. You must soldier ever onward, a veritable slave in chains of your own making.
But I believe you can still experience real freedom.
Option #2: Abdicate for Asylum
Though there will always be people who will want to kill you for what you have done to their families, I believe several nations of this world would give you amnesty if you were to resign as President of Russia, allow for nuclear disarmament, and open the door for free and fair direct democracy elections in Russia.
You could live out the rest of your days in the protective custody of the state of your choosing.
I am certain that the Vatican would welcome you.
Or one of the monasteries on Mount Athos.
Or Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, or China, or many others.
Failing all other options, you are welcome to spend your dotage with my family.
Option #3: Repent, Apologize, Resistute
Do you know what makes a man seem weak, pathetic, incompetent, embarrassingly little?
Blowing up maternity wards.
Getting your goons to check people’s cell phones.
Do you want to appear strong and tough and self-confident on a world stage?
It might seem counterintuitive, but admitting when you are wrong is a sign of great strength.
When I got married thirteen years ago, I made it my mission to always be the one to apologize first. We humans screw up hundreds of times every day. Being willing to own it is a symbol of supreme self-awareness.
Your journey towards reconciliation with your global family starts with a meaningful, personal, heartfelt apology to the Ukrainian people.
But it can’t stop with words.
It must immediately be followed up with a de-escalation of your nuclear warheads to set the world at ease, and the removal of your troops from Ukrainian soil, including the regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, and Crimea.
And then begins the restitution process.
Your men have murdered thousands and destroyed many cities. Do what you can to make it right. Withdraw your troops, and send in well-paid construction crews. Rebuild Ukraine’s schools, hospitals, nurseries, and homes — to a higher quality than the ones you destroyed. While you’re at it, pay out full life insurance policies to the families of all those who’ve lost a loved one. No amount of money can bring even a single person back, but the families of the deceased need and deserve support.
Do not pay for this at any cost to Russian citizens — pay for it personally, out of the $200+ billion you have stolen from the Russian people, along with the $1+ trillion that your oligarchs have stolen and stashed in London.
Then draw a hard line around your current borders and commit to never cross them again.
Apologize also to your own people, explaining frankly that you made a horrible mistake in believing Ukraine was actually part of Russia. Admit that Jewish comedian-turned-President Volodymyy Zelenskyy is not a Nazi and that he has near-unanimous support from his people. Confess that your desire to re-assemble Rus was prideful, foolish, and historically stupid. Admit also that you had no right to invade another nation or murder another human being for any reason whatsoever.
Vladimir, I want you to know that truth and reconciliation is possible — we’ve seen glimpses of it in Rwanda, in South Africa, in Canada.
As Desmond Tutu said, “There is no future without forgiveness.”
And people will have a hard time forgiving you until it becomes clear that you have actually changed your ways and are pursuing reconciliation.
Then: Make Russia Great
It is a pipe dream to think you would ever consider retirement. If you cannot trust your own people, it is doubtful you can trust the rest of the world to honor any amnesty arrangement. This, I will admit, reflects poorly on us.
Accordingly, all that is left for you to do is turn inward.
By that I mean, take yourself and Russia on a course of radical self-improvement.
Instead of invading places like Moldova and Ukraine and Belarus, spend the rest of your life focused on what’s already inside your nation.
What I wouldn’t do to be in your shoes! You single-handedly control the largest nation on earth by landmass, with a relatively small population. You possess the stewardship of hundreds of trillions of dollars worth of water, lumber, minerals, and human time.
Do you know how big of a blessing you could be to your people and the world if you turned your gaze inward instead of outward?
Instead of worrying about the sawdust/Nazis in your neighbor’s eye/country, focus on the log in your own.
Imagine what could happen if you stopped invading other countries, or worrying that other countries would invade you, and instead focused all of your prodigious energy on making Russia the greatest, richest, and most generous nation in human history.
You could become the first nation on earth to be 100+% powered by sustainable energy — harness your mighty tides, hydro your massive rivers, geothermal vast amounts of the ground beneath your feet.
Instead of complaining that nations are joining NATO, stop huffing and puffing and just admit the truth you already know: That nations join NATO because they are terrified of you. NATO has never invaded Russia, yet you have waged five wars in my lifetime. Why not just stop?
Instead, you could extend olive branches to your neighbors in the form of trade deals that are advantageous to them.
You could broker a global deal to make the North Pole a neutral-non-nation, a self-owning entity with human rights like several rivers and mountains already possess.
You could lead the charge toward total global nuclear disarmament. Because you have the largest arsenal in history, literally no one else on earth is better-positioned to usher in the end of the utterly stupid nuclear age. (At the very least, you could start a draw-down process to the point where the current nuclear nations still have a few bombs, but that all of them combined don’t have enough power to destroy the world forever.) Not only would you win the Nobel Peace Prize, but you would go down in history as a hero of all humankind.
Last but not least, as you reach your twilight years, you could transition Russia from a dictatorship into the first democracy in human history. How’s that for leaving a legacy? The Russian people would be truly in charge of their own fates, with every single person having an equal voice. You would do your communist forebears proud.
In doing all this, you would put America to shame. You would expose the USA for what every honest person already knows it is — a hyper-violent, corporate-controlled, anti-freedom oligarchy masquerading as a democracy… not unlike your own country.
Revive Your Faith (Or Find It for the First Time)
“Ukraine is an inalienable part of our own history, culture and spiritual space” —Vladimir Putin
If none of this convinces you to change course, I will lastly make a claim against your (so-called) Chr!stian faith.
Your mother was a God-fearing woman who disobeyed her totalitarian government and illegally attended church.
You said in a documentary that she baptized you in secret, against the wishes of your atheist Communist father.
After you had your car accident and your dacha burned down, you put a cross around your neck and said you would “never take it off.”
Do you wear it still?
Consider that cross.
Meditate on what it represents:
On Friday April 3rd, 33 A.D., a peasant preacher from Galilee voluntarily allowed himself to be tortured to death by his enemies so that every person on earth could find peace with God through his sacrifice.
I don’t care what many of your false “Christian” bishops say — just because Russian Christianity started with a baptism in Kyiv doesn’t mean Jesus magically blesses murder as you try to re-capture the Ukrainian capital.
Biblical repentance isn’t about shaming or beating yourself up. It simply means to “turn around” and walk toward the light instead of the darkness.
Please do not take God’s name in vain. You’re not fooling anybody. The power-loving Patriarch of your Russian Orthodox Church has led you astray:
Jesus made fun of flowing robes, told his disciples not to use fancy titles, and instructed them not to seek power or lord it over others. Meanwhile, your “church leader” looks like he robbed Fort Knox and Elton John.
True Christians do not defend and sanction the murder of anyone, even enemies.
True Christians do not preach that followers should love “our homeland, our people, our rulers, and our army,” because there is an absolute separation of church and state — Christians, after all, do not have any allegiance to legal fictions.
Listen to the EU bishops calling for peace.
Listen to the 100s of Christian leaders around the world calling for peace.
Christians believe in the Imago Dei — that every single human being is made in the image of God, and is therefore unconditionally worthy of life.
No amount of land is worth the loss of a single human life.
A single human life is worth more than all the elements in the universe.
I want to close by reiterating that I love you. To hate you is to become like you, and that will never make the world a place of peace.
Right now, there are more than a billion people on this planet who want you dead, but I am not one of them.
Instead, like many Christians who are praying for your repentance or capture, I am praying Psalm 10:15–18 over your life: That God would “break the arm of the evildoer” and “call your wickedness to account.” That he would “hear the desire of the afflicted” and “incline his ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed.”
“So that mere man who is of the earth may terrify no more.”
(I’m praying that for every other nation and despot, too.)
But after your power is broken, I hope you find healing. I hope you can right your wrongs. I hope you can learn to love and trust and serve and fight for what is good and right and worthy in this world.
I hope you can find peace.
Everyone in our global family is connected within five or six degrees, and I’m hoping that this letter reaches you swiftly, as readers pass it closer and closer until it reaches your desk.
More importantly, I hope it reaches your heart.
Jared A. Brock