Adam Borowski

Soul-searching ends conflicts

Soul-searching is defined as a deep and anxious consideration of one’s emotions and motives or of the correctness of a course of action. The world is in a mess because too many people are unable to take a critical look at themselves. That’s where fanaticism stems from.
I sometimes see Israelis talking about their perspective and trying to convince the unconvinced that Hamas and others aren’t just innocent souls defending themselves against the so-called Zionist entity. A noble endeavor but we’re all stuck in our echo chambers and, seems to me, only a powerful personal experience can change some people. I’ve heard the, ”oh, what are they doing, they are killing Palestinians, poor Palestinians are just doing what they can to strike back” argument too many times to count from people I’d expect to know better.
But, as long as both sides in a conflict have the capacity of soul-searching, there’s hope for diplomacy, for negotiations, for some kind of agreement honored by both sides not just on paper.
If there’s no soul-searching, no introspection, don’t expect a particular conflict to end.
Russians, overwhelmingly, lack soul-searching. It’s terrifying because they truly don’t have the capacity to grasp that they are in the wrong. I used to think they are just pretending or lying but no, they just can’t conceptualize a different perspective. Being wrong. It’s not that they choose not to imagine a different point of view; they just can’t. This is in line with Russian soldiers bringing parade uniforms with them, convinced they are going to be in Kyiv in three days after the invasion, with Ukrainians welcoming them. Their lack of introspection made it impossible to ask: ”Wait, what if we’re the baddies here?” Language we use lets us interpret our inner world and the outer world. If you don’t have the concept of freedom in your language, such as North Koreans, you’ll never be free.
For hundreds of years, Russians were denied any ability to soul-search or introspect. Yes, they have poets and writers, so what?  Don’t expect any ”are we the baddies?” moments from them. Living in a Mariupol apartment after the Ukrainian owners were shot dead? All good.
Look at all the nations even today. The Germans certainly have done a lot of soul-searching. Even Chinese people are aware of their flaws. I know because I worked in China and was impressed by their ability to take a critical look at themselves. It doesn’t mean they aren’t proud people – as they should be, with such a long history – but their pride doesn’t blind them. Again, I’m generalizing here, of course.
With Russians, there is no soul-searching of any kind. Tell them about atrocities in Bucha or Mariupol and most won’t be able to grasp what you’re talking about. You’ll see that blank stare, changing the subject because they don’t want to talk about politics. What? Burning people alive is politics? That, dear reader, is terrifying, because there is no cure for that, barring a divine intervention in the afterlife. Maybe, maybe a hundred years of foreign occupation would do the trick but we know how unlikely it is.
Russians claim they don’t care about Poland, yet they continually show their obsession with us. We Poles – generally speaking – hate collectivism and we have that spirit of long-lost nobility in us, making us restless and authority-averse. Some of us still practice hand-kissing of women. Russians tried and tried and tried to turn us into Russians and erase any mention of Poland, but they can’t and it makes them furious.
I agree with those who say that Russian elites would rather see us Poles dead than even russified. They hate us with a passion and would hit us with 15 nukes (I agree with Solovyov here) to destroy us all if they could. Just because we dare to be so arrogant and not accept their great gifts of the Russian empire. I have no illusions and the fact you can drink and have great fun with individual Russians doesn’t change anything. When given an order by their tsar, they turn into a murderous collective.
Dugin, it seems, has recently gotten smart. He has toned down his ‘Poland shouldn’t exist’ rhetoric. But I know the truth and the truth is this: if Russians get the chance, they’ll kill as many Poles as they can and steal as much as they can. The rest is just details. I know it sounds harsh but I tell it like it is. We’re way past diplomacy-can-solve-all magical thinking.
Whether you’re a spy or just a regular guy going about your life, knowing who you’re dealing gives you clarity of thought when preparing your moves and countermoves. The same principle applies in geopolitics.
About the Author
Adam Borowski is a technical Polish-English translator with a background in international relations and a keen interest in understanding how regime propaganda brainwashes people so effectively. He's working on a novel the plot of which is set across multiple realities. In the novel, he explores the themes of God, identity, regimes, parallel universes, genocide and brainwashing. His Kyiv Post articles covering a wide range of issues can be found at