The ABC of traditional values: Life

Konstantin Malofeev: Today, in another part of our 'ABC of traditional values', we are going to talk about the letter 'Zh': life [Editor's note: 'life' in Russian is said zhizn', in Cyrillic жизнь].

Alexander Dugin: 'Life', as our linguistic historians show, is not an autochthonous Russian word. The ancient Russian word is 'belly'. It meant 'life'. But 'life' appears in the Creed to describe a special form of life, 'the life of the age to come'. So the very word 'life', seemingly so simple and familiar, requires very serious study.

The 'belly', as physical existence, implies one thing, and 'life' is not simply being in the world, a biological process: life is being for a purpose, for a transformation. It is the life of the spirit. That is, the very word 'life' did not originally imply all life, but specifically spiritual life. Therefore, when we say, on the basis of Orthodoxy, that life is a value in our Russian tradition, in our Russian context, we consciously assume a non-ordinary existence.

Ordinary existence is not a value, it becomes one when there is a goal, an ideal; 'the life of the age to come', this formula of the Creed, tells us more about the meaning of the word 'life' than the supposedly accessible Russian word. By the way, the Greeks also had two different terms: βίος and ζωή [Editor's note: Bios and Zoè, respectively from the Greek animate life and mere non-animate matter]. In the Russian tradition, the word 'life' originally had a sublime spiritual meaning.

Our understanding of life as a traditional value is simultaneously linked to the biblical story of the substitution of Isaac for Abraham in the sacrifice of a lamb. God did not want a human sacrifice. He did not want to take human life and replace it with a sacrificial animal. For man's life was a type of Christ's life; when we take the life of another person, we are in a sense committing something akin to the murder of God. Because those who crucified Christ invaded the most important thing, the life of God. Our life becomes meaningful and valuable when it is oriented in this elevated way. Therefore, even this value is not so simple.

Protopriest Andrei Tkachev: "When a bunch of grapes is full of juice, it is said: 'Do not damage it, there is a blessing in it! - We read in the prophet Isaiah. The vine gathering its juice - which the wine-growing peoples certainly understand better than we do - or the round, pregnant belly of a woman who becomes especially beautiful while still carrying her child, are probably the best images of the sacredness of the gift of life. "Will I carry the pregnancy to term and not give birth?" - says the Lord.

In contrast to these words of the Lord, Pope John Paul II coined the expression 'culture of death', which has become very famous. He combined contraception, abortion, sex reassignment and the culture of suicide, mass shootings and euthanasia. Everything that shames and kills a person at the beginning and at the end of their journey, and everything that prevents them from living in between, has been called the 'culture of death' and the concept has been widely disseminated.

What do we see on television? Everywhere that bluish eye stares you in the face: gunshots and blood. And this cinematic blood cannot, sooner or later, not spill out. We live and bask in this blood, we are used to it, even if it is unnatural, and everything else I mentioned above is also a 'culture of death', formed by the man who has forgotten his kinship, who perishes from inner emptiness and does not ask God for help out of pride.

For infidelity he is burnt out and dried up,

he bears the unbearable...

And he is aware of his ruin,

and desires faith... but does not ask for it..,

- wrote Fyodor Tyutchev. Thus life is God. The Hebrew root haya gave rise to all the other words derived from it. The name of God is connected to it. Adam's wife, Hava (Eve), was life, because he saw in her the mother of all living things. Life is of God and for God. God and woman.

Therefore, 'raping' her womb with abortion, corrupting her soul and body, taking her away from her family is the height of the war on life. Then come the HIMARS, the Three Sevens, tactical nuclear weapons and bacteriological attacks. The woman must be killed first. Because she is Hava, she is life. That's how I see the problem.

K.M.: The legislator, when he put life as the number one traditional value in the Basic State Policy, obviously did not think so much of something. Of course, he proceeded from the usual ranking of the values of human rights and freedoms. As it is written in the Constitution, 'everyone has the right to life'. As it was written before us in the French Constitution after its revolution. It is also written that way in all other democratic constitutions.

So our legislator certainly did not dig that deep. But there is a problem: he himself created this depth, we did not find it now. The moment he called this value a 'traditional Russian spiritual and moral value', it ceased to be simply a human right to life in the sense of rights and freedoms. At that moment it became a traditional spiritual value. And what is it? It is a Christian, evangelical value.

Therefore, life, in the very high sense of the term we are talking about, is henceforth no longer just a legal norm. Otherwise it would have been included in the Penal Code and not in the Fundamentals of State Policy on Traditional Values.

Life for the Orthodox is eternal Life; therefore, anything that harms our salvation, our eternal Life, goes against traditional Russian spiritual and moral values. That is, the legislator himself, in writing Life in the Fundamentals of State Policy, gave immeasurable and oceanic depth to this simple phrase of human rights and freedoms.

Once again, all the meanings we have already discussed return. The priority of the spiritual over the material, historical memory, and life in the highest sense, the one we are talking about now. It means that public policy should not lead to death, but to the Kingdom of Heaven. It means that any debauchery, any immorality, anything that contradicts the salvation of the soul cannot be supported by state policy.

It means that any play, any film, any textbook, any book that has received the right to be published on the territory of Russia, if it leads us to destruction, if it teaches us depravity, if it calls us to suicide, to the disappointment of life, because it is black, contradicts this value. That is why the word 'life', simple but so profound and eternal, gives us the opportunity to speak about concreteness. On the fact that the state should not contribute to spiritual death.

A.D.: Exactly so. In this case, the state becomes the state of life. If we were talking about a criminal law, that would be a separate issue. But life as a value is about something else, it is about truth, essence, meaning. The state, which regards life as the highest value, must obviously preserve it in its deepest foundations. For example, do not desacralise life, do not try to find or create artificial life.

One must not dismantle the genome, one must not try to imitate by artificial means the breath of the soul in Adam, this sacred act of God that makes a clay puppet into a real and meaningful human being, his representative on earth. This mystery must not be sought where it cannot be found. Life must be protected as a sacrament and cannot be penetrated by means not permitted.

The Bible says that "it is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God". This is the living God. And many, many times in the Bible the prophets say: 'God lives, God lives'. He is not just there, He is alive, and if He simply were, He could be an ordinary abstract principle (like justice) or a universal law, or a universal beginning. But the hands of the living God is a very serious and very direct feeling. Life is always something that affects us as fundamental, it is always bigger than us, and this devotion to life, the protection of life by the state makes the state alive. Not a dead mechanism, but a living organism.

K.M.: In this case, legal arguments about when a child has a right to life are meaningless: at conception or at birth. If we talk about life in such a high sense, then what kind of abortion can we talk about in a state with such traditional values?

A.T.: Biblical revelation also speaks of the parallel between life and death: 'Life and death I have offered you, blessing and curse'. Death dealers are not only arms dealers. Aren't drug dealers the merchants of death? And pornographers? After all, blood is only shed where there is seed. Without the shedding of seed, there is no bloodshed. St Nicholas of Serbia asks: 'What is greater, the seed or the blood? The seed'. As there is no seed in the blood, but there is future blood in the seed. And if the seed is scattered uncontrollably, then bloodshed is inevitable.

Perhaps one is not a deep man to worry about such lofty ideas, but if you think about it, you will realise that they are true. It is the truth of life itself. The truth of life itself, which is given by God to the living. Therefore, immorality is, so to speak, death, and the state of life must be discerning. It must be prescient and trace sin, not at the moment it is committed, to punish what has already been done, but at the moment it occurs.

In this sense, of course, we have work to do. Because not all existences are worthy of the name life. For example, people serving a life sentence seem to exist, but they are unlikely to call their life 'life'. They say: 'I exist, but it is not life'. In hell, reasonable creatures do not cease to exist, but this is no longer life. So thank you to the legislator who thoughtlessly added such a simple word to such a long list.

A.D.: Or, on the contrary, with intention.

A.T.: And there are no simple words.

K.M.: Thank you all. That was the letter 'Zh', life.

Translation by Lorenzo Maria Pacini