I once stood in Red Square and even walked the streets of Moscow alone at night, while the Soviet Union was still strong.
The streets were clean, the iron fist of the government visible everywhere. I have regrets in my life – as everyone does – but that time I spent in Moscow was nowhere near a regret. The insights it provided were powerful ones, which I have never forgotten.
All cold warriors lived in a time when Mutually Assured Destruction was the best strategy we had, to deal with the potential destruction of the entire world. Under that premise, our nuclear capabilities were balanced against the Soviet Union’s nuclear, biological and chemical capabilities. Leadership in both countries knew that a war with each other would mean the end of everything. That war was within a single phone-call of happening, and we were all on mere minutes from the end of human life on this planet several times. School children had been taught since the early 50s, to climb under their desks if necessary, for protection from falling debris, in the event of a Nuclear War.
By 1986, the truth of the power of these weapons was widely known. No desk was going to protect you. Nothing would. It was during this time, I went to Moscow.
The visit was a powerful one. I was a young man and to be in our respected adversary’s back-yard was quite an experience. Every military exercise I had been involved in as part of the 501st Tactical Missile Wing in the United Kingdom, had ended with a massive Soviet strike – in theory, killing us all.
Standing in front of Lenin’s tomb, I remember pondering that. Everywhere I went it seemed the hammer and sickle were present. KGB followed the members of our group everywhere. Even on my evening excursions, I had my shadows. In our hotel, they were ever present, walking up or down the stairwells, standing in the lobby, ten or twelve feet away inside the Kremlin. Everywhere.
I bought some lacquer pins one day – folk art – from a vendor on Arbot. It was the tourist thing to do. I paid him with American dollars, which were worth far more than rubles, but I had to wait until the government oversight was not so present to quickly hand the artist the money. He could have been arrested for it – I suppose we both could have.
But that brings me to the point of this article. Because, you see, we may not have ever got to the last moment before armeggedon – the moment you know everything is about to drastically end in a flash, a fleeting sense of pressure and heat – then nothing. We might never have reached the moment when people around us simply begin dying inexplicably – unable to breathe, then choking, falling, skin burning. We might not have experienced the end of everything in quite the way a cold warrior was trained to envision it – or respond.
But it is possible we’re seeing it all around us, today.
Certainly we are at war with terrorists, and we are killing them in large numbers, as they are killing us. But it’s the unseen things, which are being destroyed that concern me the most.
Consider that our children have been brought up with the Hollywood fiction that someone will survive a planet-ending event like a nuclear exchange. Consider that these same children have been taught the language of blind acceptance and mediocrity in our public school system. They have been indoctrinated in the rules and regulations of the collective. They have become good little drones.
And we who have grown older in this environment have given away small pieces of ourselves. From the time when I walked free and barefoot, fishing rod in-hand, our land has been given over to those who would withhold water from farmers, take property which does not belong to them, steal in the name of the government, place surveillance cameras on every corner, and install draconian rules into the structure of our day-to-day lives. They say how - they say where and they say when. We out here are just "little people."
It began with the Patriot Act, but it will not end there. Now after getting control over most of the press, and stealing unlimited money from the people, the U.S. government is on the verge of passing legislation, which will give them unlimited control over every individual’s health and welfare. The health care bill will allow them to determine whether you or your family ultimately live or die. It is not a question of “if” anymore. They are doing it.
I know it, because I once experienced an environment like the one being created around us now. The feeling is the same. It is dark and oppressive. When I see news clips of a reporter being thrown to the ground by a Martha Coakley campaign operative, I am reminded of a man who was abducted by secret police right in front of us one day in Moscow, just outside the University gates. That man was selling hats – and I would have bought one from him. It was bitterly cold. Instead he felt the hammer of Soviet rule.
Our government is out of control – hell, they long ago forgot what it meant to be responsible to the people. Their press conferences reveal leadership which looks down on the average people from such lofty perches, that they don’t even feel a need to answer simple questions – let alone, answer for their actions.
Make no mistake. We are still living under the threat of destruction. We may face more terrorism, but that’s not the greatest danger. We are lost – and if we do not stop our march toward a big-brother system resembling Soviet rule, we may not be able to find our way back to those barefoot lands, which now seem so distant.
I remember coming home from Moscow. I remember seeing the American flag for the first time in what seemed like forever.
I felt a tear on my cheek and wondered why it was there.
Now I know.
Folks get out and vote for Scott Brown today in Massachusetts. We can get back to our "barefoot" place, but we have to slow the government down. Electing Brown will be a good first step - maybe our last chance.