revisiting a 6 year old post (Turning Point)

What most of all hinders heavenly consolation is that you are too slow in
turning yourself to prayer.

Thomas a Kempis


(detail of a pinecone / Julie Cook / 2014)

** I made a terrible mistake last evening…I watched the news.
It was Fox, who since the election, I’ve just kind of cut ties with,
just as I’ve cut ties with all major news outlets…
I am more than disheartened with the “conservative” news program’s seemingly
feeble attempts to stand up against the growing national oppression of our freedom
of speech and thought…
yet sadly, they fall woefully short…and still….I watched.

I was quickly reminded as to why I now avoid all news.
It is sickening.
It was a startling reminder that we are living George Orwell’s 1984.
We are living Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.
Maybe we are even living in the midst of the Book of Revelation…

And if that’s the case, things really are scary, but thankfully in that
most frightening of thoughts, there remains hope for those of
us with weary souls because we know Our Redeemer will reign supreme
and this nightmare will end.

We are living in the midst of a massive Spiritual battle..
a battle of light vs darkness.

A place where Americans view one another as their own worst enemy.
Free speech and thought as not free or even allowed.
We have forgotten our past, our history, our ideals…
We have become our own worst enemy.
And it all began when we turned our back on God.

So as I watched, I felt sick to my stomach.

And since we are living life in the Twilight Zone…
I decided to cast my thoughts backwards…tumbling back in time.
I went back 6 years ago…6 years ago to a time that was pre-Trump.
It was life during Obama’s reign.
And oddly what I wrote those 6 years ago did not speak of calm, peace and a kumbiya existence–
but rather it was a shadow of things to come…it’s just that we had no idea of knowing
how bad it would all become…

Here is that 6 year old post….

As a tale-end Baby Boomer and child of the Cold War, the Soviet Union, the USSR,
The Federation of the Russian Republic or simply Mother Russia,
has always been an uncomfortable shadow over my shoulder,
just as it has for most everyone my age and older.
The enigma known as Russia, who most graciously hosted the world last February
for the Winter Olympics only to turn around and shock us all a few months
following with the “invasion” of Ukraine, has remained a conundrum for the free world
since the Russian Revolution of 1917 which gave way to birth of Communism.

When I was in high school, which seems to be many lifetimes ago,
I had the good fortune of taking a Russian History course—with the most memorable
experience being of my introduction to the writings of Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
I had the good fortune of reading several of his books…
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, The Gulag Archipelago and Cancer Ward.

Now all these many years later I find myself drawn back to the writings
and words of Solzhenitsyn,
of which I find more prophetic than I had ever imagined.

For those of you unfamiliar with Solzhenitsyn, in a nutshell,
he was a Russian soldier (WWII), Gulag prisoner (for nearly 10 years),
writer and novelist, historian, Soviet dissident,
Nobel Prize recipient and finally, again, Russian citizen.

As a life long member of the Russian Orthodox Church,
Solzhenitsyn was guided by a deeply spiritual moral compass.
He was a very loud and vocal opponent of Totalitarianism,
of which expedited his forced exile from the Soviet Union,
yet he could also be equally critical of the West and its obsession with Capitalism,
Consumerism and Materialism. All of which reminds me of the chastisement the West
often received from Pope John Paul II,
as well as Mother Teresa—as perhaps those who have suffered more grievously under
the Socialist and ultra Nationalistic Regime of the Nazis and then that of
the Communist Soviets, have perhaps a clearer perspective of our
often blind view of what we consider to be “the good life”

I am poignantly reminded of Solzhenitsyn, his words and wisdom as well wise counsel
and rebukes of those who have witnessed first hand the sinister wiles
and atrocities of Evil, particularly during this time of year as it seems
the world always appears to crescendo to a heightened sense of madness–just
as the holidays come into focus. I don’t know why that is except that
as the world seems to not only witness an abundance of joy and goodwill,
there seems to be an equal measure of evil and chaos.
Perhaps it is because Christians are drawn to the birth of the Savior and Jews
begin the celebration of the miracle of light and the rededication to the Second Temple–
a time of a tremendous pull of people toward God—as it seems Evil
must have its share of the pie by unleashing its part of unimaginable
pain and suffering in order to create some sort of sadistic counter balance.

Perhaps our senses are on hyper drive this time of year as we keenly
feel the highs of Joy and Wonder along with the bottomless pit of despair
and suffering as they each roll in to one. These thoughts reverberate
in my mind just as Sydney, Australia was held hostage Monday
by a radical Islamist madman leaving 3 individuals, including the gunman, dead.
Then on Tuesday, Pakistan witnessed an unimaginable attack on a school
leaving 132 children and 9 adult staff members dead all at the hands of the Taliban.

We currently have a menacing cyber attack taking place at Sony as North Korea
is suspected to be retaliating to the release of a tongue and cheek movie
which sadly mocks an attempted assassination of an, albeit, unhinged world leader.
Sometimes I think we, those of us in the West with our often sophomoric
entertainment industry, have lost our sense of what is considered off limits or
morally wrong when it comes to the exploitation of movie making and entertainment–
but I suppose a moral compass would be needed in the first place in order to be
reminded of such. . .

We have just marked the tragic anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre
as we continue reading headline after headline of local, national and global tragedies.
Just as the world tries to come together in some sort of unity marking two
very sacred holy times of the year as well as the secular merry making
of Santa, Papa Noel and Kris Kringle’s arrival.

In reading Solzhenitsyn’s book Warning to the West,
which is actually a brief composite and compendium of the texts to three
separate addresses made in the US in the late 1970’s,
it is startlingly frightening noting the parallels of then verses now.
I am keenly reminded of the relevance of Solzhenitsyn’s words which were uttered
almost 40 years ago as they could very well be spoken on the world stage today
regarding today’s global state. I will leave you with a few pieces of his
excerpted texts in order to ponder and ruminate the relevance and warnings
which echo across our prosaic landscape as we wrestle to make sense of the
tragic events which continue to unfold before our very eyes this holiday season. . .

“Is it possible or impossible to transmit the experience of those who have
suffered to those who have yet to suffer?
Can one part of humanity learn from the bitter experience of another or can it not?
Is it possible or impossible to warn someone of danger?
How many witnesses have been sent to the West in the last sixty years?
How may waves of immigrants? How many millions of persons? They are all here.
You meet them every day. You know who they are: if not by their spiritual disorientation,
their grief, their melancholy, then you can distinguish them by their
accents or their external appearance. Coming from different countries,
without consulting with one another, they have brought out exactly the same experience;
They tell you exactly the same thing: they warn you of what is now taking
place and of what has taken place in the past.
But the proud skyscrapers stand on, jut into the sky, and say:
It will never happen here. This will never come to us.
It is not possible here.”

“In addition to the grave political situation in the world today,
we are also witnessing the emergence of a crisis of unknown nature, one completely new,
and entirely non-political.
We are approaching a major turning point in world history, the the history of civilization.
It has already been noted by specialists in various areas.
I could compare it only with the turning from the Middle Ages to the modern era,
a shift in our civilization. It is a juncture at which settled concepts
suddenly become hazy, lose their precise contours, at which our familiar and commonly
used words lose their meaning, become empty shells, and methods which have been reliable
for many centuries no longer work. It’s the sort of turning point where the
hierarchy of values which we have generated, and which we use to determine
what is important to us and what causes our hearts to beat is starting
to rock and may collapse.
These two crises, the political crisis of today’s world and the oncoming spiritual crisis,
are occurring at the same time. It is our generation that will have to confront them.
The leadership of your country,
which is entering the third century of existence as a nation will perhaps
have to bear a burden greater than ever before in American history.
Your leaders will need profound intuition, spiritual foresight,
high qualities of mind and soul.
May God granted that in those times you will have at the helm personalities
as great as those who rested your country . . .”

(excepts taken from a speech delivered in New York July 9, 1975,
at a luncheon given by the AFL-CIO)

A prophetic voice… “despiritualized and irreligious humanistic consciousness”

To such consciousness, man is the touchstone in judging
everything on earth-—imperfect man, who is never free of pride,
self-interest, envy, vanity, and dozens of other defects.
We are now experiencing the consequences of mistakes which had not
been noticed at the beginning of the journey.
On the way from the Renaissance to our days, we have enriched our
experience, but we have lost the concept of a Supreme Complete Entity
which used to restrain our passions and our irresponsibility

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn


(image courtesy the web)

In 1970 Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Noble Prize for Literature.
At the time, the Soviet State viewed Solzhenitsyn and his writings as both controversial and
threatening to the Communist State.
Thus Solzhenitsyn was prohibited from leaving the country in order to receive his award.

It wasn’t until four years later in 1974, after he was expelled from the USSR for treason,
only to find a new life in the United States, that Solzhenitsyn finally officially received
his award in person.

At the time the Swedish Academy noted that it was due to ‘the “ethical force” with which
he pursued the traditions of the Russian people,

which helped to lead the jury to bestow such an honor upon the Russian writer.

Even today, more than 100 years following Solzhenitsyn’s birth, he remains rather
an enigmatic personality.
In fact, Solzhenitsyn continues to be a controversial figure in both modern-day Russia along
with her alter ego the former Soviet Republic, as well as in the democratic West—
as he was vocally critical of both governing ideologies.

Yet I’ve often written about the importance of Solzhenitsyn and his prophetic words which remain
brilliantly relevant for those of us traversing this precarious 21st century.

In 1978 Solzhenitsyn had been invited to deliver the commencement speech at Harvard.

According to the Solzhenitsyn Center, “Solzhenitsyn’s June 8, 1978,
commencement address at Harvard was the most controversial and commented-upon
public speech he delivered during his twenty-year exile in the West,
for he critiqued the spiritual crisis of both East and West.

Solzhenitsyn is not without controversy as he was critical of both East and West…
and perhaps more so of the West as he saw in the West wasted hope.

But far from being inspired by hostility to the West,
Solzhenitsyn refuses to break faith with a civilization still capable of
drawing intellectual and spiritual sustenance from
“the moral heritage of Christian centuries with their rich reserves of mercy
and sacrifice.

Dialetika.org adds that “in that speech,
he criticizes the two central contending systems during the Cold War:
Communism and Western Capitalism.
His argument centers on what he calls “despiritualized and irreligious humanistic consciousness.”
The problem, according to Solzhenitsyn, lies in the predominance of these forces
at the base of all modern societies.

To such consciousness, man is the touchstone in judging everything on earth —
imperfect man, who is never free of pride, self-interest, envy, vanity,
and dozens of other defects.
We are now experiencing the consequences of mistakes which had not been noticed
at the beginning of the journey.
On the way from the Renaissance to our days, we have enriched our experience,
but we have lost the concept of a Supreme Complete Entity which used to restrain
our passions and our irresponsibility.”

If anyone knows the evils of Socialism, Communism, regimes run by the oh-so
sacred ‘state’, and a life lived in a labor death camp for voicing free-thinking and thought,
it is Solzhenitsyn.

In his award-winning book The Gulag Archipelago, Solzhenitsyn’s non-fictional
and auto-biographical investigation into the survival of life inside a gulag,
a Soviet forced labor camp,
Peruvian Nobel laureate, Mario Vargas Llosa noted that through this book,
Solzhenitsyn is “the man who described hell to us.”

Solzhenitsyn’s words remain as a polestar…acting as both a warning and a guide—
Words that continue to warn and remind us about what it means for mankind to lose
his/ her humanness. Words that warn about the loss of morality.
Words that warn about man becoming his own god while both forgoing and failing to yield
to a power greater than his own.

It would behoove this Nation of ours to recall the words of Solzhenitsyn.
His observations and warnings over our own arrogance and smugness especially
as we find ourselves moving into the final steps towards our November election.

With a swarth of Democratic contenders dangerously courting and even embracing
all things Socialism, Americans must never forget the suffering of those who
lived through the nightmares produced by previous nations who also
courted and embraced Socialism.

Should we even wonder why a senator and his wife would opt for a honeymoon in the
USSR? Not Russia but Communist Soviet Union long before its fall?

Should we wonder if a young congresswoman really understands the concept between
democracy vs socialism and how each system effectively or ineffectively governs when
she says things like…“When we talk about the word ‘socialism,’
I think what it really means is just democratic participation in our economic dignity
and our economic, social, and racial dignity.
It is about direct representation and people actually having power and stake over
their economic and social wellness, at the end of the day.

Should we be concerned when a US congresswoman questions that radical Isalm
is to blame for the attacks on 9/11 and simply thinks that “some people did
some things”?

Should we wonder when certain candidates promise to pay for everyone to go to college
while forgiving all existing student loans with money that simply doesn’t exist?

What when homelessness runs amuck? What of major US cities becoming dens for
crime and blatant drug abuse and where streets are considered unsafe both night and day?

What of free healthcare for all—who actually pays for free?

The list goes on and on…

So before you consider a dangerous dance with Green New Deals and the
new Socialistic state…you might want to recall the wisdom of those who actually
lived in, under and through such notions and saw them for what they really are
both dangerous and eventually destructive…

You only have power over people so long as you don’t take everything away from them.
But when you’ve robbed a man of everything he’s no longer in your power —
he’s free again.