When I was still in middle school, my mom said I had to go with her to a “historic event.” We lived in St. Louis, Missouri at the time and we were going to have to drive for two hours to get to Fulton, Missouri. I was not excited about the unbearable eternity of sitting in a car for some boring event that she was dragging me to. I think most 13 year old’s don’t care very much about history. However, if some historical event is worth pulling me out of school on a Wednesday, I was game for no school. She wanted me to hear Mikhail Gorbachev speak about the fall of the Berlin Wall. So what?
Before dawn, on the clear spring morning of May 6th, 1992, she awoke a murmuring teenager. A couple hours later we were pulling into Westminster College. Unbeknownst to my all-knowing teenage mind, this was indeed a significant historical place. You see, 46 years prior, Winston Churchill gave a speech titled, “The Sinews of Peace” where he explains the concern of the Iron Curtain falling across Europe. I didn’t know anything about that when I was 13. It wasn’t my generation. I knew that Russia was bad news, James Bond didn’t like them, Top Gun didn’t like them, and so I didn’t like them. Why did I care if the former Russian leader was coming to some obscure place to give a speech? After reviewing both of the speeches found at nationalchurchillmuseum.org, I should have cared a great deal.
In March of 1946 World War II had concluded just barely over 6 months. It was a time of great uneasiness. President Truman, also from Missouri, had invited Mr. Churchill to speak his mind regarding the state of the world.
He spoke about war and tyranny, poverty and privation. He spoke of the uniting of the countries of the world. He desired to give his “true and faithful counsel in these anxious and baffling times.” Gorbachev echoed those sentiments stating, “The atmosphere was heavy — not only with hope, but also with suspicion, lack of understanding, unpredictability.”
I found the review interesting, and found that the contrast of our current world situation, and the one found in 1992 were different, yet eerily similar. Gorbachev continues, “This is not just some ordinary stage of development, like many others in world history. This is a turning-point on a historic and worldwide scale and signifies the incipient substitution of one paradigm of civilization by another.” When I was young if you would have asked anyone when the fall of the Berlin Wall would happen, there would have been extreme doubt. Yet, we live in an age where it has occurred.
We currently are living in another “historic moment” in the world’s history. Never before have we had the technological sophistication, and the advance of science to combat such a microscopic threat. We learn more about COVID-19 every day, and we will indeed find ways to overcome. We must keep the hope alive, and help our neighbors. Now is the time to heed the direction of leaders, not fight against policies meant to protect with blunt ignorance. Take time to self-reflect, focus on your spirit, your family, your friendships. One of my favorite quotes from Jesus in the Bible is, “…be not afraid, only believe. -Mark 5:36” May we all seek to be believing, have hope and keep doing our best through this unique time is my hope. Stay strong Ashland!