Ukrainians, almost 50 million of them, are angry. They are refusing to buy Russian goods and services, and they are one of Russia’s best customers. A popular smart phone app “Boycott the Occupiers” identifies Russian bar codes in supermarkets, before purchasing. Russian imports have declined 40 percent in a few days.
The world knows the news that Russia recently sent its army into Crimea, a region in the neighboring country of Ukraine. Now Crimea belongs to Russia but the angry Ukrainians supply most water, electricity, natural gas, and road and rail access to Crimea.
Since the occupation the Russian government has announced a special economic zone for Crimea, to attract investment. Vladimir Putin and his government want long-term success.
A Russian news site reported “Moscow will make Crimea a special economic zone with tax breaks to attract investors, Russian Prime Minister Medvedev has announced at a government session in Crimea’s capital Simferopol. … “It is our purpose to make the peninsula as attractive as possible for investment.” … The Prime Minister described the development of Crimea as a national priority and compared the importance of the region to that of the Far East.”
On the same news site, one local observer wrote “Crimea is economically good as dead. No foreigner investors will come due. So every support will have to be Russian but for how long will Russians keep it floating above waterline? ”
There are two directions for this crisis, two kinds of failure; the world could slip into a terrible war, as it did with Hitler in 1939, or Russia could suffer from a crisis of corruption.
The second scenario seems likely, right now. Even if there is no war, Crimea will not find growth or success because a toxic environment kills initiative. Free and open societies are usually wealthy, and dictatorships are usually poor. Scientists, inventors, designers, project managers, and entrepreneurs won’t live in a dangerous place surrounded by soldiers with guns, and investors won’t put money there. Corruption kills progress.
This hard lesson is true for organizations and governments of any size and it scales down to each of us.
We all have a project that must succeed, like a new business, a family, or a new church. In all business, an unbreakable law guarantees that our best intentions will fail if we operate in a toxic environment.
The Bible is clear about this for Christians: we need to put ourselves in a safe environment “Do not neglect the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but encourage one another.” (Heb 10:25). We need to keep our environment safe “Brothers, if a man is overtaken in a fault, you who are spiritual should restore that one in a spirit of meekness; considering yourself, lest you are also tempted.” (Gal 6:1).
We need to distance ourselves from toxic influences “Rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.” (1 Peter 2:1). This is standard business advice for entrepreneurs, and God said it first.
Have you worked in a job where you wanted to quit, or you spent too much time protecting yourself? That employer does not have a bright future. If you are there now, you should plan your exit. Some Christians need to find a new church, and we need to limit the influence of some people in our lives.
Some children need a new school, and some couples need marriage counseling. An alcoholic will find more success in an AA meeting than in a bar, and an overweight person in a fitness gym, rather than a Cheesecake Cafe. The Kremlin in Moscow needs to find its lost integrity, before Crimea loses its future.
As a Christian, I believe we are here to do and to build; God has appointed some success and progress for each of us. There are risks, success can be elusive; but failure announces itself early. Russia will initiate a miserable peace, if it somehow avoids a terrible war.