The first foreign cash I, a freshly baked graduate of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, received in 1989. This was my first salary in the Soviet-Japanese joint venture "LIKO-Raduga". That diversified firm – a daughter company of the famous Mitsubishi – supplied foreign cars to the USSR, opened restaurants in Moscow and organized exhibitions.

I was hired (you will not believe it) literally from the street, when I saw the announcement of the search for a manager. I do not know how many people responded to that announcement but the firm selected only 24 candidates, including me, for passing a rather difficult exam. Among other requirements for candidates the knowledge of the Japanese language was indicated as a desirable, and apparently the fact that I had just graduated from the Oriental Studies Department of MGIMO specializing in Japan played a role: I was accepted.

The conditions were fantastic: the firm immediately provided me with a two-room apartment, company car, salary of five thousand dollars plus a certain amount in roubles, bonuses and interest on sales. My wages were paid in dollars only.

The older generation probably remembers that in those days various specialists, from plumbers in cities to tractor operators on collective farms preferred to receive compensation for their services not with money but bottles of vodka. It was the currency of the common people. Well, the bigger bosses – managers of trade bases and department stores, officials, etc. – preferred solid DMs and dollars.

Two world wars and countless regional conflicts have not taught humanity anything over the past hundred years. The world is on the verge of a global slaughter again. As an instrument of cooperation and harmony, chess could be an alternative to power solutions of short-sighted and irresponsible politicians.

In mid-October, two leading US broadcasters asked the US citizens of a possibility of Third World War. According to the CBS poll, one-third of Americans are firmly convinced that the war is coming. Almost half of them think that it is very likely.

NBC News was not so specific. It simply asked what most worried Americans. 72 per cent are worried that the United States under President Donald Trump will become engaged in a major war. At the same time, 54 per cent of respondents see the main enemy in North Korea, and 14 per cent in Russia.

A similar survey was conducted in the Russian Federation a year ago. According to Levada Center experts, 48 per cent of Russians were afraid of the Third World War at that time.

Polls in every country of the world give similar results. This is understandable: people want to live peacefully and happily everywhere and any war, even more so the World War covering entire continents is the most terrible misfortune that can be imagined. Of course, one should exclude natural disasters such as an asteroid hitting the Earth or a worldwide flood. However, nothing like this happened to mankind for a long time, but the memory of the nightmare atrocities of still fresh.

I was slightly surprised when "Russian Pioneer" editors suggested that I should consider my holidays. I can’t even understand what inactivity is. I even asked my assistant to clarify the meaning of the word "vacation".

It turns out that the period of summer heat in ancient Rome, which coincides with the appearance of Sirius in the morning sky, was called «Canicula» (small dog). It was also called «dies caniculares» – (dog days: from July 22 to August 23). It was considered a temporary summer break, hence the word "Kanikuly" (‘Vacation’ in Russian, Ed.)

I was, however, more interested in Vladimir Dal’s definition in Explanatory Dictionary of Russian language, which says that "vacation is a time to wander about and be lazy." I do not understand this. How anyone can be idle without benefit to spend the most valuable resource given to us by nature – one’s own time?

I am much upset seeing young men and girls sitting in parks and courtyards with their faces buried in smartphones and tablets. What are they looking for? There is another example of a modern fun – spinners. It is said that they help a child to relax and relieve stress. But, excuse me, what kind of stress is there for 10-15 years old?

At such age, it is possible and essential to experience "stress" from new discoveries and mastering reality without fear of getting a psychological trauma. That’s what child psychology is. And we instead provide a child with a silly toy that completely cuts off its consciousness that it should have at all times.

Thus, I decided that I have something to say about this.

Everyone, who has ever been interested in Buddhism, knows that the Buddha came to the conclusion that people themselves are the cause of human suffering. The whole fault is their attachment to material values to the detriment of the values of the spiritual world.

That's the main question: why are we unhappy? The answer is obvious -- we are selfish. We care about ourselves only. Is there any way out? There is and the great Teacher has pointed it out: a man must be freed from selfishness.
Buddhists believe that there is suffering -- dukkha. Dukkha means "impatience, impermanence and intolerance. "But suffering is just an effect. The reason is our eternal craving: desire to possess, appropriate and consume.
The Buddha experienced everything that the mortal could: bliss and luxury of the palace life, yogic meditation, philosophical doctrines, power and poverty, satiety and hunger, loneliness and penance.
The Buddha is the embodiment of love and compassion for all living things. His personality is characterized by breadth of mind, greatness and incredible fearlessness. He was born for the good of people. Buddha aspired to truth, to victory over worldly vanity because people were unhappy. His only concern was to help them. He never cared for himself in all his life.
Buddha was often asked if there was a God and He answered that He did not know. When He was asked about the purpose of the existence of mankind the Buddha answered: "Do good and you will be happy."

The current population of the earth is 7.5 billion people; a little less than half are of working age. According to the International Labour Organization, almost 6 per cent of them – more than 200 million – do not have a job. The ILO would not tell how many people work for a salary that barely allows them to make ends meet.

According to experts' forecasts, the development of technologies will gradually displace people from the labour market. This applies to all spheres: production, transport and services. Robots will assemble cars and drive them along the roads that were made by the same robots. Computer programs will keep accounting; write music and act in blockbuster films.
Unemployment of hundreds of millions of people will lead to disastrous consequences: if a family member loses a job he would not be the only one who suffers but his children and retired parents as well. We are expecting the collapse of a consumption-oriented economy. This will bring such horrible disasters as we have not yet seen.
The mass of unoccupied, hungry and embittered people will become the breeding ground for the flowering of the most radical ideologies and trends from Nazism to religious fundamentalism. In combination with budgetary paralysis, this will lead to collapse and self-destruction of many existing states. Aggressive non-state actors, such as ISIS, will take their place.
But there will be no peace in the apparently prosperous countries as well: the militant and uncreative regimes will wreak havoc and horror all over the world. Struggle for exhausting resources, first of all for water, will become extremely intensified.

I was slightly upset when I received a sms from the editor of the "Russian Pioneer" asking me to write about ships. Well, I do not like vessels sailing the seas and oceans. I will be honest – I get sea sick. Seafaring is not my best option. I was born in a place where the steppe touches the sky – in Kalmykia.

And then I thought, do they want me to write about ships? No problem. I will write about the ship, which is dearer to me than anything in the world. Read, please.

First, a little bit of history. For many thousands of years, mankind has come a long way from primitive reed rafts to caravels and gracefully flying along the waves brigantines to powerful and astounding nuclear-powered icebreakers.

However, the brightest intellectuals striving forward to new horizons could not make us to see that our planet is the very same ship drifting in a far from safe space of the Universe. What's so surprising about this? Do you remember the famous chords of the Beatles song about the yellow submarine? “We all live in a yellow submarine.”

That's how we all live – in one yellow submarine. Or on the same ship. And we sail the ocean called Life. And so what? We live and we do not complain.

Probably, there is not a single boy who did not dream of becoming a sailor. We also dreamed about this in Kalmykia. It may seem strange but only at first sight. What seems to be unattainable is always the most attractive. To anyone, who has not seen anything larger than the city pond, the ocean seems something incredibly majestic and those who conquer elements are fabulous giants.

The cunning is an old companion of man. However, while everyone considers the high intelligence as a positive quality everything is a little different when it concerns cunning,

There is an opinion that cunning always walks hand in hand with lie and cheat. Therefore, people mistrust cunning person, but they do not consider cunning to be an exceptional vice. There are a lot of sayings about cunning in Russia that are not quite condemning it but rather lowering it to the level of not the most worthy occupation. The tales about mischiefs and rascals always evoked a smile on the faces of Kalmyks. We have a fairy tale about an old man named Keeda. He had nothing but a red and bald headed ram. With the help of natural savvy and cunning, the old man managed to acquire seven camels, a horse and a fur-coat in a short time. It was necessary to him, however, to sacrifice the ram, but in the end he was none the worse off. This character is treated kindly in Kalmykia and his sculpture is located in Elista.
It is interesting that sometimes the cunning ones become the victims of cunning. Remember Homeric "Odyssey" that was entirely based on caused by his actions misadventures of the hero. Having cunningly defeated and blinded the Cyclops Polyphemus, Odysseus brought upon himself the wrath of the sea god Poseidon, the father of the giant. Yes, Odysseus was forced to cheat in order to avoid death, but in retaliation Poseidon prevented Odysseus from returning home for 20 years.

Communication and contacts among people were the most important component of civilization from time immemorial. Every breakthrough in this field shook humanity. The ability to quickly and precisely receive information created empires and ruined them. Do you remember the simple trick that the Count of Monte Cristo used to crushed his enemy - the banker Danglars just by bribing the telegraph employee to deliver the wrong message? Compare this to the power of the internet, which allows us not only to communicate directly with almost any inhabitant of the Earth but also provides access to all the world’s spiritual and cultural benefits. Everything that seemed to be an unattainable dream a hundred years ago — the opportunity, without leaving home, to attend lectures by leading scientists, to see the famous theatre plays, to get familiarized with the works of outstanding painters — became a reality.

According to estimates of the International Telecommunication Union, there are 3.5 billion internet users worldwide, that is half the world's population. Of course, this figure is somewhat cunning: after all, only the number of devices is considered. If you have a computer, smartphone and a tablet that have access to the Internet, you will be registered as three users not as one. Nevertheless, the figure is impressive.
But how does the internet army affect our life? Has the global society become more educated, spiritual and intelligent than it was half a century ago in the pre-internet era?

Check-in, take off, landing, customs. Same all over again: take off, landing... More than a hundred countries a year; another country, meeting and theme every three days. That is the life of the President of FIDE - one of the world's largest sports federations.

I write these lines during the short interval between trips. However, many politicians and businessmen share such life style. The modern man is less tied to any particular place. By necessity – some more and some less – scientists and artists, journalists and engineers are touring the world. There are more and more people who feel that they are the citizens of the world.
Civilisation develops and people can travel to the places that were the ultimate dream of professional travellers before. Someone said, "The world is getting smaller." I remember a song from my childhood with the lyrics: "The planet has become a little smaller. You can travel all over it in an hour. You can get anywhere within fifteen hours of flying, plus another 15 minutes by taxi." But, in my opinion, that is not because the Earth is getting smaller but because a man is able to reach farther.
This means that all the cultural riches of civilization, from the Egyptian pyramids to spacecraft launch from Cape Canaveral, became available to any willing person. Anyone can visit Lake Baikal or the Rocky Mountains. Anyone can see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre or "Stranger" in the Tretyakov Gallery. And that's perfect.

A week ago, I returned from Chisinau, which I visited on the invitation of the President of the Republic of Moldova Igor Dodon.

I was doubly pleased by this trip. Firstly, I like Moldova. My first visit there was in 1997: I held one of the first meetings of the FIDE Presidential Board in Chisinau. Moldova enchanted me with a special aura and by the locals, who like chess and respect chess traditions.
Secondly, my old and good friend Igor Dodon is not only a major political figure but also the head of the National Chess Federation. His election to the highest State position was good news for 600 million chess players in the world.
It is not by chance that the FIDE promotes the slogan "One billion chess players - one billion clever people". After all, chess develops not only the intellect but the ability to calculate the consequences of your actions, which is necessary for every self-respecting man. The ancient game instils the respect for the opponent, motivates to learn by his example and forget own ambitions and resentments. These qualities must be inherent in any politician claiming to get an important position.
The more chess players will be in the world, the more intelligent people will appear in positions of power. The number of conflicts will decrease and cooperation among countries will increase. More decisions will be made for the interests of ordinary people.

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