Jackie Gingrich Cushman

He then quoted from the 20th-century Russian philosopher Ivan Ilyin: "'We trust and are confident that the hour will come when Russia will rise from disintegration and humiliation and begin an epoch of new development and greatness,' Ilyin wrote.

"Three great ideas run through this work," said Brooks. "The first is Russian exceptionalism: the idea that Russia has its own unique spiritual status and purpose. The second is devotion to the Orthodox faith. The third is belief in autocracy. Mashed together, these philosophers point to a Russia that is a quasi-theocratic nationalist autocracy destined to play a culminating role on the world stage."

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was quoted by reporter Karen Robes Meeks of the Long Beach Press Telegram on Tuesday providing background and context.

"Now if this sounds familiar, it's what Hitler did back in the 30s," Clinton said. "All the Germans that were ... the ethnic Germans, the Germans by ancestry who were in places like Czechoslovakia and Romania and other places, Hitler kept saying they're not being treated right. I must go and protect my people and that's what's gotten everybody so nervous."

According to Robes, Clinton noted that Putin is a man "who believes his mission is to restore Russian greatness. When he looks at Ukraine, he sees a place that he believes is by its very nature part of Mother Russia."

As we think through Putin's actions and reactions regarding Ukraine, we must remember that it is not enough to put ourselves in Putin's shoes. We also need to put ourselves in his mind. His mind is different than ours. It's his mind that drove him to pose shirtless on his horse -- and we'll have to stretch our imaginations and understanding to put ourselves there as well.

Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.