Posted tagged ‘Communism’

Helsinki Moment

July 19, 2018

A few days ago, one of my friends brought me a small gift – a bumper sticker that she thought I would like, knowing my political compass. On a white, frugally used space you can see two rhyming words in dark caps – DUMP TRUMP. No exclamation point, just a straight message. I loved it and immediately thought that it should be distributed around. “Perhaps we should reproduce it in large numbers and pass them out in supermarkets and other public places?”

Later that evening I thought about that sticker again. “OK, it is cute, it is clever, and it feels good to have it, but in the reality of today’s political situation in our country, how could Trump be dumped?!  Impeachment comes to mind, but… it’s a very lengthy, complicated process and with today’s Republicans infected by the Trumpism disease and their self-interest… forget it!

I recall numerous slogans, propaganda statements, and political posters from the time of my growing up in post-war Poland controlled by Soviet style Communist apparatchiks. I developed a strong dislike of propaganda that stayed with me till today. After years of living in this country, I learned to accept the fact that propaganda is alive here as well, but it’s called “political advertising.” However, I like bumper stickers, and when I am touched by one, I put it on my car or on my studio’s wall like this one: DUMP TRUMP.

Like many, I have been very frustrated, stressed, and politically angry from the day Trump got elected and became the 45th President of this country! Trump’s domination by creating chaos and entering our lives every day with his bombastic personality, lies and endless tweets made me sick and evoked a form of political lethargy. This is similar to the response by many of us living in Tucson to its powerful sun generating almost unbearable heat in summer – it evokes physical lethargy with a desire to sleep and wait for cooler days. And they do come – with the monsoon’s rains! The lethargy disappears and new energy emerges! But that is the work of Nature. Political lethargy is much more complicated to deal with because is it caused by man-made politics and, in this particular case, Trump-made confusing politics. The cure has to come from us – society.

Then came the 16th of July 2018 which we Americans and the entire world will remember for a long time – the Helsinki Summit of Trump and Putin.

Helsinki Moment

In truth it was not a Summit, but a two and a half hour private chat of the two most powerful leaders of the world: President Trump and President Putin! Such a private chat should take place in a bar and focus on their wives, lovers, children, pets, or favorite sports, but NOT on matters concerning world politics! Such private chats are fine for us, the ordinary people. However, private chats of Trump and Putin are a totally different matter because they have great consequences.

You can imagine that I watched that Helsinki press conference glued to our TV – making notes, taking photos and recording words of Trump and Putin. Like many I was out-raged.

I will not repeat the epithets or statements the press and some political figures addressed towards Trump at that time. Those opinions are flying like small and large birds on the world’s political sky. However, I will share the one text I immediately sent to a close friend, “Trump’s ‘performance’ was a great embarrassment to this country!”

Let’s face it; Putin definitely won that “match”! With his characteristic calm confidence he presented Trump with a soccer ball from the World Cup, which Trump quickly tossed to Melania as a gift for their son Baron.

Tossing ball

World politics is not like a soccer game, a business deal, or a TV entertainment show – it is more like a very sophisticated chess game! In such a game Putin is a much better player than Trump, who most likely couldn’t beat Putin in a game of checkers!

I have been living here long enough to notice that this society does not like losers – the focus is always on the winner. So why not to DUMP TRUMP?!

Helsinki’s 16th July event will not be forgotten. It was proclaimed by many journalists, diplomats, and politicians as one of the darkest moments in American history.

The Helsinki sky on that memorable night did not get dark. There was a penetrating, gentle light diluting the sky’s darkness. One who does not live there might be surprise by that. But that is Finland – light is always present on summer nights! It might be hard to sleep on such nights, and that specific night was sleepless for many, especially journalists like Anderson Cooper and others.

Helsinki Moment 2

Poetically and politically speaking, I see that gentle light as a symbol of an awakening. Perhaps that Helsinki event will be an awaking moment for our society to see this divisive President in a new light. Perhaps we will unite and decide to DUMP TRUMP.

Havel’s Star

December 22, 2011

Bright stars of the night… a strange idea was planted in my imagination a long time ago (in my childhood, I guess) that when a star is falling across the sky, it is a sign that someone is dying in a faraway place. It was a sad image and after some thought I decided to believe in a contrary concept—that when a person dies, their spirit goes up into the sky and… a star is born. So that’s why there are so many stars in the sky!

With a great sorrow I learned last Sunday that Václav Havel had died. My thoughts traveled immediately to beautiful Prague, to the starry sky above that city he loved. Although he died in his country house away from Prague, it is Prague that contains memories of Havel as a playwright, an intellectual, and as a leading dissident against the Communist system which consequently forced him to five years “residency” in prison.

Years later, after the Berlin wall fell—as the result of a hard won peaceful revolution by Eastern Europeans—Prague gained memories of Havel’s 14 years “residency” in a very different place, a presidential palace. He first became President of Czechoslovakia and later President of the Czech Republic.

Photos of Prague with communist flags and without

Prague wrapped in the red power of Communism & Prague, a durable beauty of yesterday and tomorrow.

I am writing this today because I have been greatly influenced by Václav Havel’s writings — not so much as the playwright, but as the political activist and thinker. Coming from the same corner of the world, dealing with the same political and social issues, I have a special respect and adoration for the political activists and writers like Havel and Adam Michnik (of Poland) — for their vision, their passion and their intellectual leadership.

Three books by Vaclav Havel

The only comfort one might have after Havel’s death is that his spirit is captured in his writings. So I spent an entire night re-reading pages and pages of Havel’s words.

Although I like Letters to Olga very much — it is a collection of Havel’s letters from prison to his first wife Olga Splichalova — I opted for some quotes from The Art of the Impossible, which is my favorite book by Havel. In this collection of speeches from the time of his presidency, Havel shares his views on today’s social and political issues.

Here I have the privilege to quote the words that resonate with me the most.

Vaclav HavelAbout Communism

Communism was not defeated by military force, but by life, by the human spirit….It was defeated by a revolt of color, authenticity, history in all its variety, and human individuality against imprisonment within a uniform ideology.

The totalitarian system of the communist type, as established in the former Soviet Union and subsequently imposed on all countries in the Soviet sphere of influence, not only destroyed political pluralism and the prospects of real political opposition, but annihilated politics itself as a field of practical human activity.

About politics

Despite the political distress I face every day, I am still deeply convinced that politics is not an essentially disreputable business; and to the extent that it is, it is only disreputable people who make it so….But it is simply that a politician must lie or intrigue. That is an utter nonsense, put about by people who—for whatever reasons—want to discourage others from taking an interest in public affairs.

When I look around the world today I feel strongly that contemporary politics needs a new impulse, one that would add a badly needed spiritual dimension. Perhaps this impulse will come from some place other than the postcommunist countries. Yet it seems to me that come it must.

The modern era has reached a point of culmination, and if we are not to perish of our modernness we have to rehabilitate the human dimension of citizenship as well as of politics. This is what I consider to be the principal challenge of our time, a challenge for the third millennium.

About democracy

Democracy is an open system, and thus is capable of improvement. Among other things, freedom provides room for responsibility. If that room is not sufficiently used, the fault does not lie with democracy, but it does present democracy with a challenge. Dictatorship offers no room for responsibility, and thus it can generate no genuine authority.

About power

It is obvious that those who have the greatest power and influence also bear the greatest responsibility. Like it or not, the United States of America now bears the greatest responsibility for the direction our world will take. The United States, therefore, should reflect most deeply on this responsibility.

About death

With a little exaggeration we might say that death, or the awareness of death—this most extraordinary dimension of man’s stay on this earth, inspiring dread, fear, and awe—is at the same time a key to the fulfillment of human life in the best sense of the word….Death gives us a chance to overcome it—not by refusing to recognize its existence, but through our ability to look beyond it, or to defy it by purposeful action.

Knowing that Havel liked jazz, I chose Jan Garbarek’s composition titled We are the Stars to honor him. I am pretty sure that he would like it and I hope you will like it too. Click on the title above to hear the music and here are the words.

For we are the stars. For we sing.
For we sing with our light.
For we are birds made of fire.
For we spread our wings over the sky.
Our light is a voice.
We cut a road for the soul
for its journey through death.

Have a peaceful Holiday — Alicja

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Please don’t forget the special offer at the end of my previous post.

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Text copyright © 2011 by Alicja Mann.
Photos of the book covers: first- Prague Time Life Books © 1980, second- Prazsky Hrad by Karel Plicka © 1962.


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