Posts tagged freedom

Heart wrenching news about Ukraine

Difficult to passively sit back and watch the events unfold in Ukraine as they are moving forward. The Ukrainians have taken three steps forward with their newly elected president but several steps back with what is happening in eastern Ukraine. Possibly the separatists are employing terrifying tactics of their own volition but I think the guy in charge in Moscow is not only encouraging it but aiding them. How do you get sophisticated missiles into the country to take down a Ukrainian plane that is landing at the airport, 49 dead as a result? Where do the tanks come from that are infiltrating Ukraine? Why do they not have their insignias on the armored vehicles or why do the agitator men NOT wear symbols on their clothes to show who they represent? This is an undeclared war that is going on and yet supposedly it is NOT happening because they are simply Russians who are dissatisfied with the Ukrainian government and want Russia to take over.

Meanwhile, the tourist trade is not faring very well in Crimea and that is a beautiful place to be at this time. The Tatars were aggressively moved out when Stalin wanted it for his own Soviet headquarters and now people who are catching on are leaving…that is, if they are able to now. I don’t know if they have the electricity or fuel or food they need. I believe they are living on ration cards now. So sad.

What I know from one of my friends currently living in western Ukraine is that some of the far eastern cities in Ukraine are without food, electricity or a means of transportation. Some people are hiding out in basements of apartment complexes because it is not safe for them to be in their homes or apartments. This means dire straits for those who do NOT want to be in this chaos. However, there are heroes who are doing what they can to help these people who want OUT!

My heart goes out to those who ARE helping people who have no means, Ukrainian unfortunates who are caught in the cross fire. I also know of brave, young men who are involved in the fight to help Ukraine return to order and peace. That is all anyone wants who LOVES their own country.

This makes me think of what would happen in the U.S. if it were to happen like that. Would we have people who would cave in and do whatever they are told by the “government?” Probably so, those who watch tv and are passive because they believe everything they are told by the media. Would we have others though, who would fight for our country to become what it used to be? I would hope so…for our grandchildren’s sake.

Freedom is important and so many people do not have that in their lives. That is the heart wrenching news from around the world. I continue to think about Ukraine…and Kazakhstan.

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Servant’s “Bit Part” in King Lear

Braveheart comes to mind when I think of the valiant efforts of western foreigners who are trying to make sense of our duties as university teachers in Almaty, Kazakhstan.  For those who have watched the three hours starring Mel Gibson, the major role he plays of William Wallace has you saying aloud in your head what Wallace yells at the end as he is drawn and quartered.  “Freedom!!!” 


Perhaps Braveheart may be easier to watch than reading Leo Tolstoy’s monolithic masterpiece of War and Peace concerning marriage, unity and disunity.  Fortunately, I have the long holiday weekend to plow through all 1455 pages of Tolstoy’s writings.  Maybe I’ll come to a better understanding about our teaching situation by the end of it.  I read Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina while I was teaching in China from 1986-88 and understood my Norwegian grandpa better who gave it to me.  Reading Tolstoy will be a major event for me, I’m accountable to my blog audience to achieve this goal.


Reading C.S. Lewis and his interpretation of King Lear got me to think about our institution of higher learning.  My Mom sized up our situation the other day in her concise way: It seems to me that it is hard enough to get along with people in the education business here in America but then to throw in people from many different cultures and make the mix work must be a real problem.”  Yes, that is it in a nutshell, unfortunately we are interfacing with people from various cultures who do not cope well with our present reality.  They are either dealing with their own past dysfunction or have grandiose ideas (read visionary) about the future.  See if Shakespeare’s King Lear character with a “bit part” according to C.S. Lewis, casts some light on our troublesome situation:


“…the idea of the world slowly ripening to perfection, is a myth, not a generalization from experience.  And it is a myth which distracts us from our real duties and our real interest.  It is our attempt to guess the plot of a drama in which we are the characters.  But how can the characters ina play guess the plot?  We are not the playwright, we are not the producer, we are not even the audience.  We are on the stage.  To play well the scenes in which we are ‘on’ concerns us much more than to guess about the scenes that follow it…


In King Lear (III:vii) there is a man who is such a minor character that Shakespeare has not given him even a name: he is merely ‘First Servant’.  All the characters around him – Regan, Cornwall, and Edmund – have fine, long term plans.  They think they know how the story is going to end, and they are quite wrong.  The servant has no such delusions.  He has no notion how the play is going to go.  But he understands the present scene.  He sees an abomination (the blinding of old Gloucester) taking place.  He will not stand it.  His sword is out and pointed as his master’s breast in a moment: then Regan stabs him dead from behind.  That is his whole part: eight lines all told.  But if it were real life and not a play, that is the part it would be best to have acted.”


I’m reminded of Job’s words, along with Braveheart’s, from 13:15, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him, Even so I will defend my own ways before Him.”

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