Politics and PeopleApril 06, 2014
I've been working with Russians over the past year and the most difficulty I have had with the experience is learning the Russian language. Though I have spent much of my life studying and should be able to learn effectively at this point; I honestly don't think I have ever encountered anything as hard as learning Russian. Every other aspect has been much easier - living outside of Moscow, working with the space program for several months, I have had the pleasure of working with many Russians on a daily basis. Our relationships began before the recent crisis (and their relationships with other Americans began to develop during the cold war), and I haven't noticed any change, other than sharing a mutual sadness at our poor communication. I'm not writing to comment on who is right or who is wrong on any of the salient issues, certainly there is enough analysis available in the news. My only comment is how little it effects the interpersonal relationships we have developed and our understanding of each other as people. Friends write me abroad and worry about me and ask how things are, but I am more filled with hope than fear because of these very same relationships.
Often I ask the people around, who have flown in space, what lasting impact that experience had on their lives. One of the most common answers I hear is that they look back at the earth in amazement, and they see a planet with social constructs of boundaries and borders. That viseral feel of a unified globe calls into question some of our dogma and rivalries. It woud be great if we could all look through that same window and share that view.