Just now looking up the word "taxpayers" on Google News brings up a handful of headlines to illustrate my point: "Academies are using taxpayers' money to pay 'unjustifiably' high salaries to senior staff, MPs warn"; "Air pollution: UK government's failed legal battles cost taxpayers" and "Wrong waste in recycle bins costing taxpayer thousands says report" .
By contrast, in Russia, the word "taxpayers" isn't used very often; instead, it's "the state". The state owns schools, invests (or doesn't invest) in roads, writes off foreign debt to Venezuela and builds a new hospital in Syria. It's the state not the taxpayers who bankrolls military parades and finances television networks. As a result, I can think of at least three sad consequences of such linguistic practice. First, paying taxes has no connection with education, healthcare or infrastructure in the minds of most Russians. It's considered a burden rather than a fair obligation of every citizen. Secondly, in contrast to the Western values of "self-made men", many Russian people expect the state to look after them and make things better. Individual citizen responsibility is not part of the daily agenda. Thirdly, when the Kremlin makes an announcement about building a hospital in Syria, few people are thinking "hang on, it's my money - is this really the best way to use it?".
Western readers are probably finding it hard to believe this. Surely, they think, bright people in Russia can see through the veneer of the language. Sadly, neurolinguistic programming is a powerful thing. Our brains latch on to familiar speak and don't bother questioning what we hear once a concept is internalised. Indeed, it is entirely possible to get stuck with the language of your milieu if you are not deliberately trying to challenge your worldview now and then.
The language we speak as a nation is perhaps less influential than your own personal vocabulary. A couple of months ago I stayed with a friend I haven't seen in a while. I couldn't help but notice that her favourite catchphrase was "isn't it terrible?". Regardless what we talked about, my friend found terrible things in politics, art, food and the weather. Granted, all these things can be awful, but it appeared to me that finding faults became my friend's daily mantra. With that in mind it becomes very difficult to see anything positive. The negative mindset prevails, affects your daily life and becomes hard to shift.
Let me finish this article on a positive note. A few years back someone sent me a link to a YouTube video which featured an interesting talk about the use of language to treat anxiety. The speaker recommended using toddler language to calm yourself down. Apparently, even if you are well in your 40s or 50s, your brain still remembers the language your mother used to soothe you when you were little. If you are feeling anxious or fearful, saying "Janochka, vse budet khorosho" (Little Jana, everything will be all right) aloud, imitating your mother's voice, should help to calm yourself down. About a year ago I started coldswimming in a natural pond. In winter, the water is just 1-3C degrees warm. As I enter the pond, I frequently talk to myself as my mother would, counterbalancing the natural response which screams "What the f**k are you doing??!!". It works every time.
P.S. If you have a link to the video I refer to above, please send it to me and I'll post it here.