When leaving Norway from Oslo airport Gardermoen, one could see sayings in various languages, embedded into the floor of the airport departure hall. After several modernisations and upgrades, only a few remain. One of them is in Russian. It reads: “И в чужих странах тот же мир”.
I’ll translate it a bit later, please bear with me. First let us look at the last word: “мир”. The Russian word “Mir” is well-known in the Western world thanks to the second Soviet space station, which carried this name. What few of the Westerners realise, is that this word carries two meanings, depending on the context.
It means both “World” and “Peace”.
Coming back to the saying above, it can be translated as both “And in the foreign countries there is the same peace” and “And in the foreign countries there is the same world”. As there is no context here, both meanings apply.
World and Peace. Peace and World. Without peace, there is not world, and world is incomplete without being in the state of peace. That’s Russian philosophy in a nutshell, embedded into the Russian language itself.
Any literate and educated person, would have at least heard, if not read, the monumental work by the great Russian author Leo Tolsoy: “War and Peace”. The English translation of the title does not convey all the depth that Tolstoy put into it. The title in Russian is “Vojna i mir” (“Война и мир”). With the knowledge of the double meaning of the word “mir”, which I described above, my reader will quickly notice that “War and Peace” is only one side of the meaning of the epic work about the First Great Patriotic War of 1812. The other side is: “War and the World”, which is the profound intention of Leo Tolstoy – conveying how war affects people and relations in the world.
Incidentally, there is another Russian world that carries the meaning of “World”: “Свет” (Svet). And it too has two context-defined meanings. It’s other, more frequent, meaning is “Light”…
And Russia is busy trying to build conditions that would bring peace to the world, despite all the spanners that certain Western “partners” throw into the works, trying hard to coax a war. One such peace building work was the recent visit of President Putin to Vatican, meeting with the most powerful (in the quite way) man in the world, the Pope. Lada Ray expertly analysed this meeting in her article Putin’s New Ally: Pope Francis.
And as a postscript: I intentionally chose an English word with two contextual meanings for the title of this article. For even though “Russia” does not mean “Peace”, nevertheless, Russia definitely means peace.