Daniil Novikov, an Estonia-based Russian citizen, humanitarian worker and a dad of three children, two of whom attend an Estonian-language kindergarten, writes that people in crisis need all our support, but hatred and suspicion of everything Russian will poison us.
On 9 March, the Estonian Gun Owners’ Association proposed that the gun licences of Russian citizens who live or have residency rights in Estonia should be suspended immediately.
I don’t have a weapon and I’ll never take up arms. But I’m a Russian citizen who has been living in Estonia for six years.
I’m raising three children, two of whom are now attending an Estonian-language kindergarten. I’m very loyal to the Republic of Estonia, I had an exhibition at the Estonian National Museum in 2018, I passed the language exam a long time ago and I have already done more for the development of Estonia than many Estonians do in a lifetime. I have a long-term residency permit, and to obtain Estonian citizenship, I need to live in the country for two more years.
Who will come under suspicion next? Estonian families who have ever traveled to Russia? It is a slippery slope to isolate some groups among the residents of a country.
Maybe you should find other ways to deal with fear besides “witch hunts”. Check out the wonderful Peaasi website for a wealth of tips on managing anxiety.
Different cultures complement each other
You can call me an idealist, but I’ve always believed that all of us – the inhabitants of Estonia – are incredibly lucky to live in such a special state, where different cultures complement each other. I would like different nationalities to coexist and benefit from one another more so than they have in the past. But, perhaps, the wounds of the past require more time to heal, and this is understandable.
Our children already understand each other better than the previous generation, and a common education makes them stronger, more competitive, and more successful both in Europe and abroad.
I have spent a lot of energy here in Estonia working with children and youth, disabled communities and families in crisis. I know all too well how hard it is for the most vulnerable, the trauma and experiences of war refugees, and how they need to be supported. It is important to recognize that soon they will need not only humanitarian aid but also that they have a long way to restoring their faith in themselves, such that they can become stronger and benefit the Estonian society.
Fear and hatred do not make people stronger
People in crisis need all our support, not hatred and suspicion of everything Russian. We are currently experiencing significant discomfort, and we are also afraid. But based on my experience, I can say for sure: fear and hatred do not make people stronger. They may bring relief for a short time, but in the end, they will poison us.
Sometimes remaining a man, a decent man, a reasonable man is the best means to fight against evil. Because evil feeds on weak-willed people who are ready to choose hatred. You can consider me a dreamer, but I believe that if humanity, solidarity, truth, freedom, love and beauty stand in the way of evil, then evil will certainly recede.
The opinions in this article are those of the author.