The Reconstruction. Перестройка.
Gray high-rise apartment buildings loomed in the gray overcast sky. Through the dust-covered window of the charter van, I watched as we passed an overcrowded electric trolley bus which was leaning heavily to one side. I wondered how the trolley was even driving … at the time it seemed more like a human sardine can. I glimpsed stoic faces staring off at some unknown point.
To where had I come? My mind wandered back to the sunny beaches of central California that I had left behind. Waves, surfing, surf shops, friends, bikini-clad babes, overall the typical “carefree” life of an emerging grommet surfer.
On that my first day in Ukraine in 1993, I had little idea of how much the time there would impact my life. My family was part of the host of Protestant “missionaries” who entered the former Soviet republics on the tail-end of “Perestroika.”
My life of “excess” became quickly a life of “necessity.” Although, granted, as American missionaries we fared much better than the average Ukrainians. Nonetheless, one of my jobs for the family was to stand in the queue for bread. I had always taken bread for granted.
Although this general reminisce of mine could go on, that is not the goal at present. I want to highlight an experience that I think is germane for the present.
It was pretty clear to the American missionaries (we knew a few families) that we were under general surveillance. Events, circumstances, situations, all bore this out. Most of us knew the phone lines were tapped. There was a joke about saying goodnight to your “KGB” agent. In hindsight I do not think any of this was because any of the missionaries were “big fish,” it was simply the continuation of a surveillance-based order. And I know now we were on the waning side of it. It was the perpetuation of certain mentalities.
Although I was not Orthodox at the time, I met some older Protestants who lived through Soviet times and had stories to tell. Stories of unmarked cars and knocks in the night. Pastors disappearing, never to be seen again. Secret meetings. Code words. Clandestine gatherings. Betrayals. And on these stories could go.
Citizen was turned against citizen. Informers were lauded and rewarded. Turning someone in for “anti-soviet” actions was a good thing. Such a person was helping to keep his country safe. People were standardized to such a degree that anyone who diverged was seen as an “enemy of the people” (of course, this is a general observation). Homogenization of mentalities was essential for the Soviet State.
Of course, in true America fashion, we would like to boast how such surveillance was illegal in America. By golly, we got Freedom and Democracy! We have freedom of religion!
Oh, how the tables turn.
As I write this it is all too clear that there now is a clear and outright massive surveillance throughout the world. Data is collected. Phones are tracked. Big brother is indeed watching.
A gradual shift has transpired; it could be traced in many ways. A major turning point for the “free West” was 9/11. My point here is but to note that since that time we have come to accept that we, the people, are potential threats, potential criminals. We have accepted this under the guise of “being safe.” I’m not going to enumerate the “civil liberties” that have been lost and not restored since 9/11. I simply want to highlight that a shift in mentality has taken place. We have become accustomed to living as ones guilty until proven innocent. We have accepted that there may be enemies among us and we need more surveillance and security to keep us “safe” from such threats.
Deconstruction of healthy normal human experience is vital to godless secularism.
To dehumanize you must strip people of their humanity. I’ve pointed this out in past posts.
Currently, the threat of a virus is furthering this mentality. People fear to interact with other people because they might be “carriers.” You don’t know who that might be. And for the promise of bodily health and safety we are willing to submit to dehumanization. Of course, we are only “saving lives.” (I think this line of “saving lives” is very hypocritical. Since when has “saving live” become so vital to those that spill human blood like it is nothing?)
And I am witnessing a frightful trend. Citizen is being encouraged to report on fellow citizen, in the name of “safety” of course. Hotlines are even being set up. Some may have already heard how the mayor of LA has said “snitches get rewards.” The message is: you are a good citizen if you report those bad people who are not obeying current Government mandates. In this all I only hear the funeral dirge for what was America. Maybe the coffin is already in the ground and the earth has been heaped on it.
Now, I’ve never been some naive Americanist. America has a host of faults (I’ve criticized them in the past). But I do appreciate much of classic America. Yet, maybe Solzhenitsyn was right, Liberalism (in the classic sense) will inevitably lead to tyranny …
I cannot but hear the echoes of Sovietism in current events. I know, the Soviets were but a piece in the greater puzzle of Secular global rule; one test run in a much greater agenda.
The current mentality is anti-Christian. Christianity says that my neighbor is not my enemy. He is not a potential “murderer” because our humanity, in its fallen state, is capable of carrying viruses. The isolation and fragmenting of humanity is ungodly.
The end result of the current mentalities being actively cultivated by the mainstream media and such will only lead to the governance of hell. I fear that now rather than “democracy” we will have “demon-ocracy.”
I desire to live in peace, and I desire this for all, as is prayed for at every Div. Liturgy but I have no illusions that the fallen world will leave people in such peace. Current events bear this out.
Yet, I believe Christians would do well to contemplate the underlying agenda of the current situation. I have pointed out already how Secular anti-Christian powers in the past have exploited tragedies to limit Christian practice and influence.
It would be good to consider the emerging blame from certain secular agents against generally Christian groups. For instance here is an example of an outright accusation of Christians being responsible for the spread of the C-virus. Is the virus being used to advance an agenda? I think that it clearly is.
Is it a mistake that these events are transpiring during the time of western Easter and eastern Pascha? The celebration of what is called the “Feast of Feasts” in the Orthodox Church. Is part of it a test on how easily certain powers can get Christians to lay down and roll-over? Even sacrificing one of their greatest Feasts? If so, then it has been the easiest of tasks. In America are Christians ready to sacrifice “religious liberty” for the sake of “safety?” It seems so.
Should we be considering that regulation of gatherings is an explicit agenda for nefarious people such as Bill Gates? (It has long been an agenda in globalist rule.) I think we should. Or that dark agents like George Soros are openly advocating for a new global structure? I think we should.
Our “safety” is being purchased at an exorbitant price. Why are so many willing to pay it without question? Why have we begun to think in dangerous mentalities which only lead to a dehumanized society? Maybe because we are well down the road already.
I wish no one ill or sickness. I’m asking – will the result of current mentalities and actions truly be for a “safer” society or will we find that what we have sold so cheaply will not be returned?
I found this interesting quote by Martin Luther King Jr., although not Orthodox I think it is an interesting and valid observation, he says, “ the church must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority” (From A Knock at Midnight).
In closing, I offer this observation by Dr. Boris Sokoloff from his fascinating book “The White Nights,” which recounts his experience during the Soviet revolution. In his conclusion, he offers his western readers this warning, “Much more important is the fact that neocommunism is a movement directed against individualization and toward the standardizing of all man’s activities. It is the farthest-reaching attempt ever made in this direction. Steadily and persistently, the Soviet regime is driving toward its ultimate goal: control of human behavior. It states officially that man can transcend his hereditary and transform his environment and so achieve full uniformity of behavior. This gigantic social and biological experiment, carried out largely through the education of children and youth, the Soviets are using the conditioned-reflex mechanism on a large scale. They openly declare that this is essential to their purpose, that through such standardization a complete hold over their subjected peoples can be attained.”
Maybe in Ukraine I did not witness the end of such things, only a momentary subsiding so that a greater surge may be achieved. How well the “uniformity of behavior” has been implemented for our “safety.”
Ultimately, God is Lord. All things are in His hands. But He did say, learn to read the fig tree …
About the author
Husband, father, and Priest.
Schooling: Kharkov State University (Ukraine); Brownsville School of Ministry; St. Tikhon's Orthodox Seminary (M.Div.).
Author and illustrator of St. Patrick, Enlightener of the Irish Lands (Conciliar Press, out of print) and illustrator of The Life of St. Brigid (authored by Jane G. Meyer).
Proprietor and writer at the Inkless Pen Blog, at which, based on the foundation of the teachings of Orthodox Christianity, a wide variety of topics are addressed. Fr. Zechariah has translated some works by St. Dimitry of Rostov and New Hieromartyr Seraphim (Zvesdensky), these translations are also available on his blog.