You made a mistake. Please don’t make it worse by destroying the world.
An open letter to President Vladimir Putin
I came to humanize you as a result of Lex Fridmans respect for you. He’s someone I have a lot of respect for and his podcast has connected me to some of the most brilliant people in the world. He wants to interview you and while watching his content about a great many big questions I learned a bit more about you. Up until then you’d simply been one of many world leaders on some far distant stage mostly inaccessible to me. Lex was able to empathize with you for a variety of complex reasons, led no doubt by the fact that he is a Russian and you’ve been a prominent figure throughout much of his life. His respect for you came across in some of the podcast discussions he’s had.
Lex knows enough about complex systems, and is connected to enough people of power, to recognize the impressive multidisciplinary technical achievement that your rise to power represents. That being said: He never condoned the various harmful outcomes of any of your actions. I imagine he takes a detached stance and views your successes as being worthy of respect because you triumphed in such a cruel game with such terrible consequences. I wonder if his view has changed? One of the things I admire about Lex, who admires you, is that he’s open and forthcoming and earnest with his feelings. That’s a hard thing to do — though it’s necessary. I struggle with it a lot.
I don’t imagine you have access to a whole lot of social supports. I’m doing some pretty weird things and I feel pretty lonely sometimes but it can’t be anything like what you must experience. I can’t imagine this is what you signed up for — and yet here you are.
Lex really has had a spectacular array of prominent scientists on his podcast. It’s exposed me to a lot of what’s on the leading edge of physics — and most relevantly to this letter — what’s finally on the cusp of coming out after years of being kept in the shadows. As a result of your extended proximity to Russian intelligence services and science agencies you no doubt understand that there are undiscovered physics of consciousness. You understand that this is evidence of some sort of afterlife. You understand the implications of what this means about death — what this means about how we face death — and you’ll recognize why these implications are made manifest in so many different cultures and religions. The energy of the outcome of these moments of your life will carry you forward into eternity. You are your only hope and all of history is watching.
If you destroy the world you will burn in the purest hell imaginable for all of eternity.
If you don’t see a way out for yourself please look to the space of culture for inspiration. Find another way. Do the best you can, it will be enough. Be the best person you can possibly be because for you personally, in this moment, the alternative is incomprehensible psychic trauma. The scale of your redemption must match the magnitude of your descent into the space of horrors you currently occupy.
You need to show us that you’re better than this. That we can all be better than this. I’m sorry this happened to you. Save yourself. Show Lex Fridman you’re worthy of the respect he has for you. You are.
Update: I recorded this as a video and sent it to Lex Fridman in response to a call for content he made on his YouTube channel. He did not air it and President Putin has yet to bring nuclear weapons into the Ukraine conflict, though I’m just as concerned now as I was then:
If you don’t understand why I’m concerned please watch this video: