Sunday, January 8, 2012

Two Leaders - Vaclav & Kim

There are no coincidences. Two heads of countries passed away a month ago day apart. Both of them were leaders of divided states, both of them were people of art and culture engaged actively in the cultural event of their countries. Both departed, leaving behind tears and sadness of their citizens. One of them was Vaclav Havel of the Czech Republic the other was Kim Jong Il of North Korea. After the short list of commonalities listed above between these two people we can now begin to list a long catalog of differences between these two countries and their rulers.
Both countries suffered in the last century under a communist regime but only one successfully escaped the bond of communism and the soviet influence over twenty years ago. North Korea survived the collapse of the soviet system and continues its communist regime but remains only one of the few exhibits that do so in the museum of the history of the world.
But where is this history leading us? Where does it lead humanity in general and the chosen Jewish nation in particular?   

Vaclav Havel was elected as the first non communist president of Czechoslovakia in the last days of December 1989. This happened just a few months after Poland got its first non communist prime minister and just few weeks after the Berlin wall crumbled under the sledge hammers of the citizens of a divided Europe. The autumn of nations in east Europe brought to the forefront memories long forgotten and to many completely unknown fresh air of freedom. Political freedom for nations enabled them to now make their own choices unafraid of interventions from the “brotherly” armies of the Warsaw Pact, choices resulting from the democratic process of their own citizens.

For the nations it was political freedom, but for the individuals it was the freedom of distinctiveness and personal liberty. Till now minds and mouths were suppressed under the bondage of rulers and now freedom was so enjoyable and treasured. Vaclav Havel was along with Lech Walesa and Michail Gorbatchov one of the superstars of the new currents now shaping this part of the world. Havel unlike Walesa was not a dockyard electrician and unlike Gorbatchov was not the product of the stiff Soviet political system. Havel was a member of the so called “intelligentsia”, a drama writer and a political prisoner for many years of his life. He was a part of the new European establishment and a member of the 1968 generation. He was a politician who got to the presidential palace not by studying in military or political academies but a person whose mind was shaped by European existentialists so popular at this time. To name a few, Buber and his friend Rosentzweig and Levinas. Havel was a member of a political generation who understood that perhaps the European soil was drenched and soaked with the blood of not only its own  people but also with blood of the Jewish people. He was a person who like many new European leaders understood that the treatment of the ancient tribe of Yisrael is the best gauge for general freedom in a society.

It was while I was fighting and waiting for this freedom to happen that induced me to emigrate from my Alte Heim – old homeland, about 20 years ago. My country wasn’t ready and the time, was not ripe yet to tolerate these freedoms and to tolerate who I was in my soul. I found my freedom here, in this country the United States which for a long time was leading the entire world with the ideals of freedom; freedom for its citizens, freedom from tyranny and human rights in general. Nevertheless from afar I was observing with great interest the unification of Europe under the leadership of people like Vaclav Havel. At first Havel allowed the splitting of his homeland into two countries which was united only a few years later with the creation of the European Union. I couldn’t believe that my old friends who traveled with me in my youth within the square cage of the Polish implementation of the soviet prison are now traveling and moving freely within almost all of Europe. I admired the smart leaders of Europe but I was proud that it is my new nation to whom I now belong, who fostered the idea of peaceful coexistence and collaboration to all of mankind - the Jewish nation. I’m proud to find myself among the people who suffered like no other nation in history. Most of the suffering was for nonparticipation in the suppression and mass killing of nations by nations and political factions by their adversaries. I’m proud I became a member of the nation of Yisroel, fighting for G-d! Not with weapons of war but with spiritual weapons of ideas and ideals! Ideas and ideals that are slowly but surely capturing the minds of one nation after another.

It takes time and there are many setbacks. Some of the setbacks are happening in the arena of international relations, some within nations themselves. We as the nation in charge of bringing these teachings of brotherhood and mutual understanding between nations and individuals are also experiencing some setbacks on this extremely difficult task given to us by our Creator. We have to admit that not all of us understand clearly our mission in the world as the chosen nation, a mission of being Ohr lamos – a light for the nations and Mamleches Kohanim – Royal Priests of humanity.
There is no guarantee that the European Union will be able to carry it success forever or perhaps as it has already happened in the past after the so promising spring of nations in 1848 when Europe pulled the whole world in to two bloody wars and invented the Holocaust. Chas Vacholila!

In our country as well we may go through periods when our civil liberties given to us by our American Constitution could be suppressed in the interest of the ruling class. In fact within only these last few years since I chose this land as my new home, these liberties are being suppressed step by step by each successive administration, with our citizens not even realizing it. We are losing the rights promised by our constitution and G-d given freedoms under new and changing all the time pretexts, recently it is the so called ‘war on terror’.
For over the last one hundred years, we the people of Torah the children of Yakov are also engaged in activities strange to our teachings, tradition and the very nature of the Jewish soul. But there is a eternal guarantee for the success of our mission, it is the revelation of Sinai, it is the Torah – the blueprint of our existence. These are the words of our prophets, who assured us that ultimately we will understand who we are and nations will follow us in kneeling and giving the praise to G-d the One and Only. 
Until then, some tyrants will manipulate their subjects to the borders where one can not distinguish between free human beings and the totally enslaved mind of near cyborgs, shedding tears and crying after the fast disappearing Stalins, Maos, Kims and others.

Matys Weiser

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