The First Visible Crack

I remember the exact moment and place.  As we talked, Karel had made the gesture of flicking his finger at an imaginary glass globe in his hand that would crack into a million pieces:

cracked_glass

“It would just take a small Ping — the whole thing could shatter and fall apart” he said.

I thought, yes, just like the edge-of-chaos/order: a phase transition.

Soon it happened.  Few, if any, but Karel could have imagined it happening — and so soon.

He knew the system well: as a kid, he had been prevented to pursue what he was good at — mathematics — for the powers of Czechoslovkia wouldn’t let him go to school, because his father had escaped from the Soviet bloc, leaving Karel and his mother to suffer the consequences.  Karel knew what it is like not to trust anybody outside his immediate family — not say what everybody knew but could not say — the Soviet system was a human prison: Private Truths, Public Lies.  Karel did get out in 1978 by Jimmy Carter’s diplomatic initiative with Alexander Dubček’s short regime. Only a few could escape from the system.

Karel obtained his PhD in Mathematics from Stanford University a couple years later after our talk.

Nobody really thought it would happen.  The Iron Curtain seemed still solid in 1988.  The Soviet system had lasted for more than 75 years.  The Soviet Union was one of the two superpowers: a military and nuclear super power. Rebellions had failed before: Hungary and Czechoslovakia, otherwise subversive acts had to keep a low profile.

The first real crack on the surface of that Curtain had started in 1982, three years before Mikhael Gorbachev took power. That first crack, that finally spread like that imagined shattered glass globe of Karel’s in 1989, was Promoted by one man….

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The Other Dream

What a Dream.

The Dream Team of Olympic Basketball:  Michael, Magic, Larry …

dream_team

BUT, THIS is about the OTHER DREAM TEAM.

They couldn’t even imagine their Dream in the beginning, it had been so long ago.

The Dream of Freedom…

FOR ALL

in Lithuania

other_dream_dream

It takes a Nation, with a little luck, grit, and passion.

“Yeah, And it’s a bigger dream.”
Jim Lampley

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A Child’s Memory

“On the back of the slip was written ‘Read 5.25.34’ and the signature of my father. The file — indeed the whole ‘case’ — gave me a heavy sinking feeling. I kept leafing through the documents trying to understand. Shouldn’t there have been some kind of logic to these stories? Did the Chekists’ machinery really so senselessly gobble up people? Perhaps my life would have taken a different turn if been able to see my father’s file earlier. If I could have been convinced without a doubt of what ordinary, banal horror our industry, our powerful Soviet reality was steeped in.”

“My father never spoke about any of this with me. He blanked this piece of his life out of his memory as if it had never existed. It is forbidden to speak of this subject in our family.”

“I was only three years old at the time of my father’s arrest, but I remember to this day all the horror and fear. One night people came into our barracks room. I remember my mother shouting and crying. I woke up and also began to cry. I was crying not because my father was going away (I was still too young to “understand” what was happening to him). I was crying because I saw my mother and saw how frightened she was. Her fear and her tears were transferred to me. My father was taken away, and my mother threw herself at me, hugging me until I calmed down and fell asleep.”  Continue reading