I finish this series on the new Crimea (Kerch) Bridge with this essay by Andrei Babitsky. About the psychological boost the bridge has given to the people living on the Crimean peninsula. I have tagged this series of posts under “Friendship of Peoples” and “Human Dignity”, for obvious reasons.
The Bridge was not built as a wartime maneuver or a part of anybody’s military infrastructure. Well, to be sure, one of the reasons for building it was so the people living on the Peninsula would not be cut off (via Ukrainian military blockade) from electricity, fuel, food and water. Call that a military strategy if you wish. Most-ly (and that’s a bi-lingual pun, in case anybody is impressed!) the Bridge was built to facilitate civilian commerce and travel. It was built so that families separated by miles of ocean can reach each other in literally minutes. It was built to bring in tourists and their valuable revenue. It was built so that inhabitants of the peninsula could become self-sufficient, so they could feel the innate dignity of earning their own bread. So they could feel themselves to be fully eligible citizens of the Russian Federation.
It was built for all good and healthy reasons, Mom and Apple Pie included. And I believe that most people in the world would agree that the freedom to travel, to visit one’s friends and relatives; to make an honest living without having to beg; to feel like they belong in a larger society and have a rightful place in the world; — or just to experience the joy of adventure (as we saw in the previous sections with the videoblogs) — is an essential human right, gives one a feeling of self-worth and is a core component of that thing we call Human Dignity. As some commenters have rightfully stated the glaringly obvious and even corny truth: Walls are meant to divide; but Bridges are meant to unite people.
The Bridge Removed a Heavy Psychological Burden
[Essay by Andrei Babitsky, penned the day after the official opening of the bridge]
If anyone needs an example of a pure Russian victory, unadulterated by scandals or false pomp; a victory which is calmly assured of its own purity, then that would be — the Crimean Bridge.
Let us stipulate that the grandiose construction projects around Sochi did not possess such a “beautiful brilliance of clarity”, neither in their planning, nor their execution.
Sochi was indeed an ambitious project, meant above all as a display of strength, resources, “Yes we can!”, yet at the same time its human-orientation was at times dubious. Sports are important but not essential to life. When the construction was finished, everybody breathed a sigh of relief: “Thank god, they managed to do it!” “They”, meaning the government.
But yesterday we breathed a sigh of something other than just relief; because, in this case, the “they” was all of us.
The human-orientation of the Crimea Bridge, not only is it 100%, it can be measured in units that are not even sociological, but of a different order of magnitude altogether.
Okay, so fine, the bridge is gorgeous, it is a wonder of architectural and engineering thought, it is a beauty, an artery of transport. Everybody gets that. But it has achieved, in my view, an even more important function.
The bridge has reorganized modern Russia, brought Crimea finally into Russia’s bosom.
Not only that, but it has brought a sense of purpose into the consciousness of the Crimeans themselves, having banished once and for all those syndromes that settled in during the period of Crimea’s existence as part of the Ukrainian entity.
Prior to her entry [into the Russian Federation], despite her status as a resort location, Crimea was a problematic territory, the Crimeans themselves felt a sense of discomfort: There was no magic carpet to replace the ferry-boat crossings, themselves inconvenient, expensive, and always at the will of the weather.
And the Crimeans also felt a sense of awkwardness (inferiority) before the other Russians [of the mainland] that their services were over-priced and yet at an inferior level to the Russian norm; and for the fact that certain strange people on the Ukrainian side of the border, were always trying to block peoples entry (to the resort locations).
This heightened attention paid to them on the part of Ukrainian nationalists and Tatar extremists (who have been enlisted into some type of patrol) has turned them into Russian citizens with a sort of birth-trauma, from which they have not been able to rid themselves in the past 4 years.
And hence, The Bridge is not just a means of transport — more than anything it is like a breeze from Russia, wafting through the Crimean nooks and blowing away the old dust and mold. A wind which imbibes into itself the sunlight, fragrances of the steppes and the sea, and returns to the Russian mainland in turn the Crimean warmth and sunlight.
Above all, this is a mental connection, instantaneously connecting the peninsula — which had become detached from the mainland — with the whole of the gigantic nation.
Having received now this problem-free connection to the mainland, Crimea, in the blink of an eye, departed from its burdensome psychological condition of a contained, besieged clump of earth, forced to eke out its existence as an impoverished relative.
Being oppressed on the one side, by psychos, and on the other, by the vagaries of nature, Crimea was able, of course, to gaze with sadness at the distant and beloved shore [of the Russian mainland], but still, it was hard to get there, one needed to pull the boat and oars out of the garage, one needed to look up warily at the sky, to watch for clouds…
In an extreme case, having borrowed money from the neighbors, one could buy a plane ticket and fly to the country which one considered one’s own.
These psychological issues were instantaneously removed by the construction of the Crimea Bridge, which completed the unity of the Russian nation from both sides.
And this is what I mean by the “human-orientation” of the project. It made the Crimean worldview less conflicted, more comfortable, even a bit triumphant, since this was all done for us.
The nation, with all its strength, bringing into play colossal financial means and human resources, and ahead of schedule, gave to the inhabitants of the peninsula the possibility to feel themselves, finally, fully Russian.
And of course, we also can’t forget the importance of the increased trade, the possibility of bringing in the necessary cargoes without impediments, and the accessibility to tourists independent of weather conditions.
All of this, as various politicians and experts have pointed out, will assist in the economic development of the peninsula as it returns to its native haven. But to me — and I understand that this is very subjective — the effect of lifting the syndrome of “underground” existence will prove to be even more key.
In the course of a quarter century, Crimea languished in the situation of an unloved and neglected stepchild of the Ukraine. Left to its own devices, it sank into poverty, started falling apart, got rusty, degraded.
After these extended years of orphanhood, to suddenly become the object of concern and affection, of merry and continuously lavished care, the target of national adoration — this of course was a pure joy and inspiration. And love. And for Russia the lavishing of this tender loving care (on the orphan) brought joy as well.
How else to express one’s attention to a family member who had been lost, and then returned? Only by surrounding him with tireless effort and understanding: Which of your (many) problems should we tackle first?
And we did it, guys! We solved the problem! As a nation.