Renewable Farming

Dec. 24 weekend essay: A world on the eve of a rebirth of freedom?

Dec. 24, 2016  By Jerry Carlson — 25 years ago, I and my friend Bob Fischer were in Moscow, reporting to American farmers on Russia’s farmland “reform.” It was growing from Glasnost, Russia’s new freedoms. The night of Dec. 24,  I watched an obviously anxious Russian TV newsman announce the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. In its place, leaders of the 11 Soviet republics, meeting in the city of Alma-Ata, had declared a “Commonwealth of Independent States.”

Six years of Glasnost had led to dissolution of the USSR. The following day, Dec. 25, USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev resigned.

Today is the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Soviet Union. Its collapse did not totally end a tragic 75-year socialist experiment which confiscated land, collectivized private farms, and murdered more than 60 million people in Soviet Russia. Also, communism’s persecution of religion had burdened the Orthodox heritage of millions of Russians. 

On the street in Moscow the morning of Dec. 25, citizens clearly feared a crisis. People rushed to convert paper rubles into any merchandise they could buy, such as carpets and clothing, from nearly stripped retail stores. 

Muscovites plodded on, braced with determination and vodka.  Our Russian interpreter assured us, “There will be no violence. Russians are very patient.” They also sensed that the crisis might hold a great opportunity for future freedoms, including religious freedom.

I encourage you to read this linked article by Richard M. Ebeling,  BB&T Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Free Enterprise Leadership at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina. It exposes the brutal realities of that 75-year Soviet era.

Ebeling closes his analysis with a warning to be wary. If we aren’t — “Well, history has a way of repeating itself.”

Many Americas see this season, and the next few years, as a reprieve, a new chance, to avoid slipping ever deeper into the kind of collectivist tragedy which has convulsed Russia, China, North Korea, Cuba and other nations.

But a leadership change in Washington is only a temporary reprieve, if that.

The risk of repeating Russia’s tragedy is perpetually lurking in academic and political mindsets intent on gaining control over other people’s lives. Case histories like the USSR are ignored. Consider how Venzuela’s socialist “utopia” has devastated food production in that once-wealthy, advanced nation. And note that 15 years of socialist rule is now forcing Brazil’s national and provincial governments to auction off assets to pay debts from a profligate decade. 

All those experiments in government structures should have taught us that nothing in the entire political spectrum offers an enduring answer to human conflict. 

The ultimate answer involves uplifting the individual human soul, one person at a time. One evidence of this became clear to me in Moscow — just a few days before the official demise of the USSR. Our American ag attache had arranged tickets for Bob Fischer and me to attend a Moscow Conservatory of Music concert by world-famous violinist Isaac Stern. He is a Russian by birth; American by citizenship.

After the inspiring performance, I visited with Stern at an American Embassy reception. I said, “Mr. Stern, you are a national treasure.”

I added that his willingness to share his talent with people of his homeland was also a great inspiration for freedom.

(You can download a PDF and read my story of that concert: It’s reprinted from LandOwner newsletter, Vol. 14, No. 6.) The story is titled, “A nation in search of its soul.”  That title referred to Russia 25 years ago.

It’s “midnight clear” that America’s greatest struggles are not social, political or military. They are spiritual. In each soul. 

One of our friends is a missionary to a Mideastern country — one that’s heavily impacted by Russia. I recently asked her: “Can the U.S. military help resolve those conflicts in the country where you serve?  

Her answer: “All the armies in the world could not bring peace to those people. Only Jesus Christ can.”

I’ve seen amazing answers to prayer for our family, for our friends. 

On Christmas Eve 2016, it’s an inspiring time to pray for your friends, for your enemies, for America.

To quote Abraham Lincoln, we can pray that “this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom.”