Ryan Hunter’s speech at the 45th annual Congress of Russian Americans Forum in San Francisco | Orthodox in the District

Ryan Hunter speaking at the Russian Center
Ryan Hunter delivers his speech at the CRA Forum on Saturday, 8 September 2018 at San Francisco’s Russian Center. Photograph by a participant and appearing on his blog.

The increasing public veneration of the Imperial New Martyrs in Russian society is an integral part of the comprehensive, multifaceted vision of a gradual re-Christianisation of Russian society and culture in the wake of the Soviet system’s collapse.

Source: My speech at the 45th annual Congress of Russian Americans’ Forum in San Francisco | Orthodox in the District

Notwithstanding my ambivalence toward the ever-burgeoning influence of information technology – and in particular, social media – within our present society, it has benefited me in a number of respects, over years. One of those benefits has been the fact that it has enabled me to virtually “meet” and interact with quite a number of people I would probably have never come into contact with, otherwise.

One of these is the individual who delivered the speech that is the subject of this blog post, and which is linked above and elsewhere throughout this post. Ryan Hunter is a  brilliant and articulate young scholar. A recent graduate (BA, History, 2016) and current MA candidate (European History) at Stony Brook University, his intelligence, perspicacity, and perspicuity have already garnered him considerable respect and recognition, as his invitation to speak at this conference demonstrates.

Among the numerous points raised by my erudite young friend, that it might behoove some (perhaps many) of our political leaders and media “talking heads” to consider, is this:

“None of the former Soviet states today maintain atheistic, single party communist dictatorships, and — regardless of the exact state of rule of law, due process, or democracy in any former Soviet states — none of the various political leaders in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) can aspire to anything even remotely approaching the totalitarian level of political control or terror held by Lenin and Stalin.”

The idea that the Russian Federation under Vladimir Putin is simply the Soviet Union “lite” does not bear either historical or objective contemporary scrutiny. Yes, the Federation has its own national interests, and no, they are not always congruent with ours.

And yes, political, intelligence, and other operatives of the RF doubtless act, and doubtless under orders from the government, to protect those interests – as do our own, for the same reason. We live in a house with sufficient glass in its makeup, that it ill-behooves us to lob stones at Russia!

But alongside and despite all this, it is incontrovertible that the political and social changes in Russia, in particular, and the former USSR in general, since Soviet days are dramatic and, in the vast majority of cases, positive. As Ryan continues,

“Think of all the progress that has been made in Russian and American commercial relations, developing business ties, and above all the laudable work of so many citizen diplomacy groups in overcoming negative stereotypes, biased news coverage, and misguided ideological prejudices between ordinary Russians and Americans.

“Think, also, of those who, even now, sadly seek to bring to Western countries the murderous communist ideology which inflicted untold suffering on tens of millions in Russia, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and indeed worldwide.”

Sadly, some of these occupy positions of prominence among the political, academic and media “elite” here in the U.S. – and some of those are among the harshest critics of the Russian Federation.

I have commented elsewhere on the irony that the same political party, and indeed some of the same people, who were willing to appease, accommodate, and apologize for the Soviet Union in its attempt to achieve worldwide Communist hegemony now squawk like plucked chickens at the thought that today’s Russia may have legitimate national interests, and the right to pursue them. Interesting, that!

At any rate, as Ryan continues,

“We certainly need a new spirit of mutual respect, rapprochement, and détente today, but I believe that it is vital that we hail what progress our two countries have made in the last five decades.”

Indeed! And perhaps we could even begin to grow away from this foolishness of considering Russia as always and automatically our enemy.

Of course there will be times when our interests are far from congruent! (Imperial Russia played the “Great Game” for a long time before the Communist Revolution.) But that is the case with every nation, even long-time allies: every country has its own interests, and rightfully so; the trick is dealing with those sometimes conflicting interests diplomatically, rather than confrontationally, wherever possible.

It would not hurt us to recognize, for instance, the historic and cultural reality that Russia feels safer when surrounded by buffer nations, balancing those nations’ equally legitimate desire for sovereignty with the Russian need for security, in a way that does not require us to push our sphere of influence right up to the Russian border.

Russia is not quite the superpower the Soviet Union was during the Cold War; but then, we are not quite the superpower we were during that long conflict, either. Both the numerical strength of our military, and our technological edge, have slipped in the years since the 1990s, and so has our political and economic strength in the world. And poking the Russian bear is likely to push it into a closer embrace of the Chinese dragon, which would be very much to our detriment.

Russia may or may not ever be a close friend and ally; but there is no reason to view, or treat, her like an adversary. To conclude with the words with which Ryan concluded his speech,

“May this centenary year [of the murder / martyrdom of the Romanovs] be a Providential source of healing of divisions and wounds between friends, families, neighbours, and nations and peoples, especially Russia and the United States, and Russia and Ukraine. May the witness and prayers of the Imperial New Martyrs, and all their co-sufferers, be with us, in every city and country, and may they bring much-needed healing of the traumas of historical memory, the bitterness of ancient conflicts, and resentment of past wrongs. May we strive to build a world worthy of their legacy as they intercede for us all before the Throne of God!”

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At the Crucible of History: The Centenary of the Romanovs’ Murders | Ryan Hunter

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Source: At the Crucible of History: The Centenary of the Romanovs’ Murders | Ryan Hunter

My learned and perceptive friend Ryan Hunter shares this lovely picture and a beautiful reflection on this, the Centenary of the cruel, horrific, extrajudicial murder of Tsar Nicholas II, the Tsarina, and their family by Bolshevik revolutionaries, 17 July 1918. The family are now venerated as Passion-Bearers and Holy Royal and Imperial New Martyrs by the Russian Orthodox Church. As Ryan notes,

“They are viewed by most Orthodox as martyrs (Gr. ‘witnesses’) who were killed in large measure due to their killers’ utter hatred for all religion, Christianity generally, but Orthodoxy in particularly. Others view them as ‘passion-bearers’ — those who went to their deaths with Christ-like composure, forgiveness, and long-suffering.”

Please read the whole essay, it’s excellent!

Perhaps at this time in our collective history, when there are some among our society who are championing both socialism and revolution, it is particularly important to both remember this family – and the millions of others who were slain by the Soviets, and other Communist regimes – and the fact that this, like so many other revolutions ostensibly conducted for the best of reasons (from the French Revolution commemorated by Bastille day three days ago to those in Communist China and elsewhere), resulted in violence and oppression. May we learn from that history.

Holy New Martyrs of Russia, pray for us!

 


 

Nota Bene: I find it curious that many of those who are raveningly anti-Russia on the left-hand side of the political aisle are of the same party (and in some cases are the same people) who were perfectly willing to appease, accommodate, and apologize for the Soviet Union. Apparently world-wide Communist hegemony was perfectly fine, but the Russian Federation and its President having national interests is completely unacceptable! Very interesting, that…

 


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Ryan Hunter. Profound examples of holiness: the Royal Martyrs in their own words and through the words of those who knew them / OrthoChristian.Com

Source: Ryan Hunter. Profound examples of holiness: the Royal Martyrs in their own words and through the words of those who knew them / OrthoChristian.Com

Today, July 17th, 2017, marks the 99th anniversary of the murder – martyrdom, for the Russian Orthodox Church, and many others as well – of the last Tsar, Nicolas II Romanov, his Empress, Alexandra, and their children: now revered as Royal Martyrs and Passion-Bearers. Please follow the link for my gifted young friend Ryan Hunter’s essay on the Royal Martyrs. Ryan also writes:

Today we remember and commemorate the murder and martyrdom 99 years ago of the Russian Imperial Family – Emperor Nicholas II (b. 1868), Empress Alexandra Feodorovna (b. 1872), and their four daughters and one son – along with several of their trusted servants and friends on 17 July 1918. The Emperor had abdicated the throne under dubious circumstances – with some believing he did so under duress, and others that his very signature was forged – on the Ides of March 1917.

The glorification (canonization) of the Imperial Family as passion-bearers – those who went to their deaths with tremendous fortitude, faith, and courage – took place by the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) in 2000, with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) having taken the step of declaring them as martyrs in 1981.

Today the Imperial Family are for many Russians a symbol of the dignity, beauty, and nobility of soul of Old (pre-Soviet) Russia, and a growing movement of mostly young Russians has expressed support for restoring the monarchy under the Romanov House. Reports estimate some 70,000 Russians and other Orthodox believers made the journey to Ekaterinberg to the memorial church dedicated to them.

The last Russian Imperial Family, especially the Emperor and Empress themselves, were victims of a systematic defamation campaign by Bolshevik revolutionary and later official Soviet communist propagandists. Too often, American and Western European historians and politicians have uncritically regurgitated these tired slanders. Anyone familiar with the warm, beautiful letters to and from the Emperor, Empress, and their children will find themselves in a world in which the highest, noblest Christian ideals were valued, defended, and embodied.

The Empress’ beloved older sister, the widowed Grand Duchess and abbess Elizabeth (“Ella”) – both beloved granddaughters of Queen Victoria – died the day after her, and was also glorified as a saint of the Orthodox Church.

O Holy Martyrs, pray to God for us!

Amen.