||[Sep. 18th, 2005|11:04 am]
Twelve million people died during the Russian Civil War.|
Then along came Stalin and he killed and he killed and he killed.
Thirty million Soviet citizens died during World War II
But Russia is still there and not notably underpopulated and some people lived through the whole bloody shambles and are still walking around today.
And we Brits go on about how brave we are because the Germans once dropped a few bombs on London.
Actually, Russia is increasingly depopulated but that's more due to low birth rates and the tendency of much of the populace to drink itself to death at an early age.
Is it any surprise they drink themselves to death with the history they've had?
Regrettably, I suspect the present they have is more the issue. This is something that has gathered pace considerably since the fall of communism.
I don't know what to say.
That Russia's experience of "freedom" should be more debilitating than its experience of totalitarian control is horrifying.
"They stress that a number of simple, if unpopular, measures, such as putting up the price of alcohol or forcing people to wear seatbelts, might make a lasting difference."
I think about the relative scale of horror a lot. My lens is a little smaller, though -- I think about the casualties of single battles, such as Gettysburg, in our Civil War. Think of it: one battle, in which as many soldiers were killed as our entire Vietnam effort.
It occurs to me that we (I and folks like me, born in the West after the end of World War II and coming to awareness of the larger world around us in the mid- to late-1950s) have lived in a peculiarly blessed time -- no wars fought on the Homeland, no pandemics, enormous strides in health care. Is the result that everyone now believes that absolute safety and security is an entitlement and not a remarkable gift of fate?
I also think about coming to sexual maturity and having my, ummm, adventurous years after the advent of the Pill and before the rise of AIDS. Again, I lived in a golden age, an anomaly that may never be repeated, where [almost] carefree sex could be taken as a birthright.
Maybe when we fuss about the shortcomings of our civilization and our culture, we also ought to think about the remarkable gifts that culture has given us.
The second-half of the 20th century was a blessed time in the West.
And we went through it being scared to death of the Bomb.
As to what you say about contraception etc- hear, hear!
My grandfather, for example, - he lived through all that (evacuated during the war, been to prison, been "rehabilitated" - had it all) and now he's a head of a huge clan, has five (or is it six?) grand-grandchildren and plans to teach them all Math when they reach appropriate age (about 3 or 4, from my own experience).
I only try to imagine all he has been through, and it makes me want to go and hide somewhere. But he never showed any regret or annoyance at his fate. And my grandmother was the most cheerful person I've ever met.
What an amazing man.
It's extraordinary how resilient the human spirit can be.