Thursday, March 9, 2017

Courage is required

“Hope has two beautiful daughters their names are anger and courage;

Anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain

the way they are.”   (Augustine, Summa Theologica)

In the world of greed for power there is little space left for morality. Robert Fogel, University of Chicago economic historian and winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize for economics, said on the day his award was announced, "intense beam of morality... can change history."[1] To start and nurture that “beam of morality” requires courage, knowledge of history, sharing stories, and patience in pursuing the truth.

Every family in the Soviet Union lost at least one member in the World War II. Intelligent and well-educated Germans became obsessed Hitler-phrenics and followed their leader, who promised them Europe and Asia, as their dominion in exchange of loyalty. One man-dictatorship created an army of soulless human machines that experimented on children and women, burnt people in concentration camps, and exterminated village after village, and town after town. The insanity of one man was    not resisted and it cost Europe millions of lives. It cost Russia 20 million lives. The   scariest part of that time in our history was that Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin–two communist dictators­–brutally murdered another 20 million Russians in Gulags.

So many people in the former Soviet Union have been hurt and humiliated unjustly. Many died without being rehabilitated.  Many are still keeping family    secrets, afraid of sharing them, though everything is supposed to be long forgotten. One day, the KGB archives in Ekaterinburg, Russia were opened and the dismayed residents learned that just near the town gates there was a nameless burial ground. Thousands of guiltless people had been secretly shot, the dead and those left to die were pushed into ditches and covered with earth.  Relatives who had been patiently looking for their fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters lost in prisons, went hopefully to this    place. Thus a new "cemetery" was born.   People began to nail the photos and names of their relatives to the huge trunks of the trees that had grown in the area since the   night of massacre.  All tablets with names had the same date of death. When my father took me there one afternoon, the spirit of violence shook me, and I felt horror hovering over the burial ground.

Vladimir Lenin[2], the Father of the Soviet System, came up with a postulate, required for change: “Change (revolution) is possible when the top (the powerful) cannot rule in the old way, and the mob (the powerless) cannot live in the old way.” Modern Russians reinvented the old postulate: “When the top cannot rule in the new way, and the mob doesn’t want to live in the new way.” Unfortunately, I observed   similar attitude among Americans.

Oppressed people are fatalistic and passive. They do not want to get involved. They don't understand that they are oppressed.  Courage doesn't come until we get angry at how things are. But anger is not popular. We all want to be nice.

Hope has two beautiful daughters.... And hope dies last.

[1] Longworth, R.C. Morality:  It's Time for a Closer LookChicago Tribune, 
17 October 1993, 1, 4.
[2] Lenin, Vladimir – Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, 1870-1924 (later known as 
Lenin), leader of Bolsheviks, a politician, one of the Russian dictators -

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