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Flawed Perceptions - My Personal Cold War

Updated on September 11, 2010

Although the Cold War began six years before I was born, my personal 'Cold War' did not begin until fifteen years later.  Proof positive that an upset makes life worse is that I continued to build my equally personal justifications for continuing that war for another forty-five years.  I was operating on a stuck picture and the reason a picture, a vision gets stuck is because it is brought into being and perpetuated by a lie. 

An incident that occurred when I was eight years old served to allow me to adopt everything and anything I was taught about the Russian people throughout my schooling as well as to take on board anything the press or our political leaders had to contribute to the matter.  Without examination and without filtering I swallowed the whole Cold War propaganda hook, line and proverbial sinker.

A Fixed Idea

My mental image of the Russian people was one of an unfeeling, inhuman, robotic mass who had little regard for any life form let alone humanity. I have since learned that in order for an individual or a group to inflict harm on another individual or group they first have to dehumanize them in order to justify the harmful act perpetuated against them. It is necessary before enacting a crime against another or others that you must first refuse to acknowledge or appreciate anything whatsoever about them. You have to deny them out of existence and reduce them to something less than a wretched animal. This has long been a practice of mankind and it is not promising to end anytime in the foreseeable future.

A fixed idea is one that a person has adopted as being true and now believes it to be true without ever having examined it.

False Knowledge

What started me off on my 'Cold War' was the same thing that sends anybody else to warring or becoming enemy fixated. The young girl who was the same age as me that 'started the whole thing' was forevermore in my thoughts as 'that Russian kid'.

My uncle, my mother's brother, had made a beautiful wooden rocking horse for my younger brother. It was painted a pale yellow and had a stained wooden seat and wooden handles and the two of us spent hours rocking on it. Although it belonged to my brother it considered it to be one of the great treasures of our childhood. Astride that rocking horse I could go anywhere my imagination chose to take me. And then 'she' came along.

Every perception, every picture, every false precept I had going forward from that fateful day nested into every other perception, picture and false precept I would add to it over the years to come. Whenever there is an upset there is always a decision made and it is always a negative decision!

False knowledge is knowledge that you hold to be true when it is instead, false - not true. When you form a precept or belief about someone or something through what you have perceived about them or it you, from that point forward, perceive only through the precept that you have formed or taken adopted from others. You are no longer able to accurately perceive the area, subject or person.

Upsets Make Life Worse

It was explained to me by my parents that the people coming to our home that day had just 'escaped' from Russia and that they had a girl my age whom I was to be kind and hospitable too. So I was, I took her to behold our treasured rocking horse and offered her a ride upon it. I had to take myself off to attend to matters in the bathroom and when I returned there was the girl, the Russian girl, my father's hatchet in hand and the horse's face severed and lying on the floor at her feet. I was livid! I hated that girl from the bottom of the feet to the ends of my hair - that Russian girl! I decided right then and there that both her and her lot were sheer evil. I even through the word heathen in there, not because I knew what it meant but because I had been told in Sunday school that it was a very, very bad thing to be.

An upset makes life worse and it does so because you go from being in your natural positive state or position (i.e. my being friendly and welcoming with 'that girl') and you go instead into a negative state or position. When you are upset, you are not only now being upset you go around upsetting other people as well. You go from a positive mood to a negative mood and when you are in a negative mood you think negative thoughts and make negative decisions. Again, it is physics, once a thing is set in motion it stays in motion until acted upon. Some people spend their entire lives stuck in an upset. Handle the upset and you can get your set ups back in place.

The Need To Be Right

Later in my childhood I was to learn about the Dukhobors as image of them often appeared on the front pages of our newspapers and stories of the latest arrests were sent out over the airways. The only thing that I knew about these people at that time was that they had come to Canada from Russia and that they were burning things and taking their clothes off on a rather regular basis. I did not investigate any further to learn that of the Dukhobors that immigrated to Canada, settling in British Columbia there was only about 100 of them involved in these 'protests' calling themselves 'The Sons Of Freedom'. Nor did I bother to learn that they had immigrated to escape persecution due mainly to the fact that they refused to serve in the Russian military.

All I knew, and all I cared to know was that they engaged in bizarre behaviour, they were destructive and they were Russian. A well and truly slotted and condemned lot in my universe and further 'proof' that I was right!

The true nature of a person is such that the need to be right or the fear of being wrong is of no consequence. However to an identity being right is everything, an identity needs to be right in order to survive. It is easy to spot when you or another is operating with a negative identity because you will find yourself in opposition to another or others and even in opposition to your own dreams and goals.

Knowing About Is Not Knowing

The rest, I can say is pretty much history, as in the history I learned in school along with images of robotic looking, goose-stepping soldiers and poor helpless chimpanzees being shot into space to die what I could only image would be a slow and horrible death and tales of anyone who dared complain being sent to something called Siberia. These only served as further justification for my enemy fixation. In my late teens I even inadvertently stepped on a Dukhobor woman who was lying in the healing waters of a darkened tunnel at Ainsworth Hot Springs in my native British Columbia. Rather than feeling any sense of remorse I felt only a sense of disgust. So there I was forty-four years later, have never examined the source of my contempt for the Russian people on those rare occasions I even gave them much thought. When I did have reason to I already had my thoughts in place and just had to 'play the tape' - nothing new under the sun.

Knowing about something is insidious in that it gives you the false and delusional belief that you do know when the fact of the matter is that you only have a vague and unworkable understanding of the person, place, thing or subject.

Have You Ever Done That?

Did I hate myself for being Canadian because some of my countrymen bludgeon adorable baby seals; or because it wasn't until 1960 that all women, regardless of racial origin had a right to vote in this country; or because our native children were torn from their families and their culture and placed in residential schools far from their homes? No it did not. I was unaware of all that until adulthood but even then it did not cause me to reexamine my particular prejudice towards Russia. Did I hate my American neighbours because they shot the Kennedy brothers and John Lennon or because the picture in our newspaper that I saw when I was twelve of a black boy my age behind bars simply because the colour of his skin determined he was unfit to sit where he pleased on a bus? No, I did not. Although I cried buckets over the Kennedy's, John Lennon and the young boy peering through prison bars I hated only the ignorance behind the actions. I do remember feeling terribly relieved that but for the fact that my freckles did not cover my whole body I may well face a similar fate.

These are all horrible crimes, abhorrent to any decent human being but the difference was they were not a personal attack on my person, my country nor anyone in my immediate life. All these incidents, I was well removed from. I had many positive experiences of my fellow Canadians and I had no personal experience worth mentioning of my American neighbours until I was in my late thirties. The mistake I made, and the reason I formed such damaging and limiting precepts was because I took the actions of that little Russian girl personally. I repeat, I took it personally, as though her actions had been a direct attack on me. I then proceeded to renounce and defame an entire race of peoples due to the actions of that one person.

So when I find myself judging others now and wanting to make them wrong for condemning millions of people for the actions of a few I have no choice but to ask myself, "Have I ever done that?" The answer is obvious, yes I have.

Closer To The Truth

That is until one day I was taking a course many hundreds of miles from home and it was there that I crossed paths with two Russians (now Ukranian from the former Soviet Union) - in Texas of all places. However, by this time I had learned about precepts and upsets and the effect they had on my own and others creations and experiences. Add to that, these two fellows were charming everybody. They were warm, personable and had a wonderful sense of humour. One spoke English and one did not so as I related my story of how I came to hate Russians and to feel that the lot of them deserved a horrible fate the one translated it for the other. It was a difficult job for the poor translator as his own mirth would often overtake him and he could barely choke out the words to his companion. In the end I loved them both - considerably!

Where my hatred kept me cold and distant from 'Russian People' - the very thing I accused them of being and the very reason I used to justify my hatred of them, the truth brought me closer to them. Closeness too another or others is defined as love and in our loving another or others we are acknowledging in them their qualities, assets and abilities and giving them our respect and admiration. Given what these two individuals had overcome to find themselves taking a course on a ranch in the back of nowhere Texas I was left with little option but to hold them in the highest regard. It is sad that I will never know what that little girl had gone through to make her to be so upset as to chop the face off my brother's rocking horse.

What I Do Know For Certain Is That I Am Not Going To Make That Mistake Again!


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    • raisingme profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia

      Thank you!

    • toknowinfo profile image


      7 years ago

      Wonderfully written hub. This is filled with so many insights about yourself, about people and about our thoughts that guide or misguide us sometimes. Thanks for sharing. Rated up and beautiful.

    • raisingme profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia

      Thank you for your comment and you are most welcome!

    • RunAbstract profile image


      8 years ago from USA

      Beautifully written. Thank you for this personal look into your thoughts, and the changes you have experienced!

    • raisingme profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia

      I can well imagine that you were greatly influenced. Such an opportunity did not exist in the post war years unfortunately and one often travels through the years without examining the source of their beliefs and attitudes and whether or not they have any validity in present time which is the point I am making through my writing of my personal experience and resulting attitudes.

    • mysterylady 89 profile image

      mysterylady 89 

      8 years ago from Florida

      I really don't remember having been taught to hate Russians. At age 16. I was one of 36 American students chosen to attend a Junior Red Cross international study center. Mine, held in Rome, had four Americans and students from 13 different countries, several of them from behind the Iron Curtain. One of the themes was, "Walk together, talk together, ye peoples of the earth. Then shall ye know one another and have peace."

      I was greatly influenced by this experience!

    • raisingme profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia

      The young girl would have been taught that our people were evil, just as we had been taught that her people were. Witnessing our 'evil' North American lifestyle alone could have pushed her buttons big time. It is time that people examined where they source their beliefs and precepts from. They are very often not based in fact let alone have any resemblance to the truth of the matter. Same game is being played today - we have just asked to focus our lens on a different group.

      I very much appreciate your visit and your taking the time to share that you made a wonderful friend out of a former 'enemy'!

    • mysterylady 89 profile image

      mysterylady 89 

      8 years ago from Florida

      I can understand why you would have hated Russians after the child destroyed your favorite rocking horse, and I, too, wonder what specifically had happened to her in her past to make her strike out like that. I am happy that later in life you met the men you liked.

      One year I made friends with a teacher visiting here as an exchange teacher for the Russian classes. She was delightful!

    • raisingme profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia

      lorlie6 - I remember the wanting to hide under the desk, being terrified during the "Cuban Missile Crisis" as in petrified, terrified and how the air raid sirens used to sound as they were regularly tested - so often in fact that I often wondered that people would even respond to them should they prove to be more than a 'test'. And you have nailed it when you state "these others who lie to us and keeps us in the dark are only a reflection of what we do to ourselves". We have free will and therefore light or dark is always choice and never more true than in this century! We are quickly running out of excuses.

    • raisingme profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia

      I don't feel bad Merlin - one of the wonderful phenomenon of having the truth set you free is that all the life force that was trapped in the lie is restored to you via a mighty good laugh. I agree that we are not responsible for that which we cannot control but we are responsible for our ability to respond or lack thereof. It is my lack of 'respond ability' to many situations in my life that set me to upping my level of 'respond ability'. There are unfortunately certain parties who have benefited from keeping us dumbed-down and in the dark. In ancient times people created mythical dragons to protect them from the unknown and then became afraid of the dragons. We have been reacting and creating out of a place of fear that leaves us with having little control over our own emotions or ability to reason and causes us to flee from responsibility, hence we turn the responsibility for our own well-being over to others. As you have stated, the age is upon us where being kept in the dark is now a matter of choice. Given the kepts and harmful acts that those who would have us stay ignorant have wrought I can well imagine how terrified they must be. I have experienced the terror of being found out when I have done something dishonest, unethical or out integrity as well as the fear of retaliation when my actions or lack of action has caused harm to another. I have literally gagged with guilt over many a stolen cookie or the candy bought with a pinched quarter. Yet I would have rather gone to my grave than owned up to it. These others who lie to us and keep us in the dark are only a reflection of what we do to ourselves. When we each take responsibility for ourselves and those we hold dear and acted with integrity, sought knowledge and applied it for the greater good it will be game over. Then we can start doing something called LIVING! Evil is nothing more than Live spelled wardsback.

    • lorlie6 profile image

      Laurel Rogers 

      8 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      Oh raisingme-I remember these times and relate completely with this hub. My mother used to tell me that Russians were to be hated and I agreed wholeheartedly since I found myself hiding under elementary school desks in fear of the Russian threat constantly overhead.

      McCarthyism was still rampant when I was born-though by '56 it had been somewhat discounted-in the media at least. In my home and at school, it was still the prevailing view.

      I've never had the opportunity to meet an actual Russian person as you did, but one day I hope to.

      Thanks for a wonderful hub.

    • Merlin Fraser profile image

      Merlin Fraser 

      8 years ago from Cotswold Hills

      I don't think you should feel bad we were all fooled as were the Russian people themselves, if anything they had less choice than we did.

      I spent 10 years in the British Royal Navy where I spent every day preparing for War against Russia a country many times our size with a bigger everything or so we were told.

      I left the Navy and joined the Oil industry a business that eventually took me to the heart of Russia.

      Like you I learned many lessons and because of that I now have many very good Russian friends and seen things that make a lie of the propaganda I was fed for years.

      I haven't trusted a politician or a newspaper since.

      I can't accept it's ignorance on our part if we are lied to. Our parents survived the second World War and it was the Russian government who raised the iron curtain in the first place.

      I suppose it's one of the reasons Governments fear the freedom of the Internet they are scared that true freedom of thought and speech may lead to us the people actually thinking for ourselves for once.

      Let's face it it hasn't been allowed for centuries, if it's not the State it was the church or the Crown.

      Yet in spite of that freedom many are still prisoners of ignorance in many directions.

    • raisingme profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia

      Thank you so much. I wasn't sure anyone would read it as it is rather long so I very much appreciate that you did and that you got something from it.

    • Winterfate profile image

      Darrin Perez 

      8 years ago from Puerto Rico

      This is an incredible hub! Thanks for sharing this! :)


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