What is hell? I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love.”
— From Fyodor Dostoevsky and The Brothers Karamazov
Fall of the Soviet Union
I’ve been meaning to write about the 20th anniversary of the fall of Soviet Union, which the New York Times covered in late August. The collapse officially took place on August 20, 1991.
I was a year out of college at the time and working in military public affairs. The thawing of the Cold War precipitated a massive reduction-in-force and unprecedented hiring freeze throughout the Air Force. As a young 20-something Gen Xer I was blessed to land such a great job, but the constant talk of downsizing caused me constant worry. The five years I spent working for the military post Cold War is a memoir in and of itself.
I developed a keen interest in Eastern Bloc countries in elementary school. In junior high I had a pen pal, Helga Hosch, who lived in Oberfellendforf, West Germany. I remember wishing she was from East Berlin so I could read about her life behind the wall.
This, along with the movie, The Hiding Place, which my mother took me to see as a child, helped inspire me to major in political science. I loved studying international relations and comparative government. My husband, Robert, lived in Russia for awhile, and we have great and frequent conversations about Russian literature.
Anyway, I came across these pictures of Russian children taken in 1985, the year Mikhail Gorbachev became General Secretary of the Communist Party, and the year I graduated from high school.
My father was very religious and liked Mikhail Gorbachev. He often said he saw something in him. In 2008, despite the former head of state’s previous claims of atheism, he admitted he was a Christian. Moreover, St. Francis of Assisi was instrumental in his life and it was through him that the former head of the Communist Party arrived at the Church.