by David Sisler

You may not understand the reasoning of a 60-year-old Russian woman I know. Standing on the shores of the Volga River, listening to the frightening rantings of Vladimir Zhirinovsky, she said, "We were better off under Stalin."

Why would Zhirinovsky--a man who is idolized by the Western media as a fresh voice in Russia and condemned by almost all of his own people as having a brain disease--inspire such a response?

I have sat in the homes of Russians who grew up under the tyranny of Communism. I know Russians who lived in constant terror that the "black crow"--an ominous, black prison van--would stop in front of their flat and they would simply disappear into the gulag archipelago.

I have seen them smile as they recalled the early days of peristorika, and the intoxication of freedom which swept through their nation just a few years ago. I have seen them brush tears from their cheeks as they recalled the hunger and starvation of those same days.

I walked through their stores in 1993 and saw the promise of better days. Two years later I shop in their markets and I see plenty, not variety, to be sure (and it may not be terribly important to have eight different brands of canned corn), but plenty.

As of this writing, the ruble is stronger against the dollar than it was three months ago, and that statement would have been false anytime within the last three to five years.

A young Russian who is studying the history of her nation told me that her people now believe Joseph Stalin was responsible for the deaths of 100,000,000 Russians--one in three! Why then would a woman, who lived under the terror of the prison wagon, say, "We were better off under Stalin?"

Obviously the anxiety of her own life.

She has seen her guaranteed government pension and her own personal savings dwindle from being worth tens of thousands of dollars to being worth only pennies. She sees her daughter entering life with a job and a salary which would once have provided a comfortable living, now being sufficient to pay only rent and buy cheap bread, nothing else.

She would rather revert to the familiar than live with the unfamiliar. She sees her nation as being out of control.

Maybe now you can understand her unusual statement.

It is not only Russia. Our society is out of control.

Education, America's largest industry, employing one-third of our total work force, is out of control. When Tennessee instituted a mandatory test which must be passed before a high school diploma can be issued, they set the test level to the sixth grade. When South Carolina surveyed their teachers, they found that every tenth teacher is functionally illiterate.

Education is out of control because we have lowered the standards. Lower standards mean that people who are down will never get up. No one will ever pull himself up if the only thing he has to cling to is mediocrity. Until that changes, education will continue to fail.

I watched a few minutes of a hockey play-off game this past season and saw a man deliberately swing his stick into the face of an opponent, a blow which required 100 stitches. The assailant's only punishment was a few minutes in the penalty box. Among some hockey players, time spent in the penalty box is a matter of braggadocio. Some football players have bragged about trying to kill a man in order to win a football game.

Sports violence will not stop until the people who control the games have the courage to suspend the offenders for life. Until then, sports, at all levels, will remain out of control.

How long can this nation, blessed by God more than any other nation in the history of the world, bear the economic burden of always, and increasingly, giving something for nothing? Want a solution? Put an end to "me, too" legislation and institute a national sales tax that requires payment by all of us. That way criminals who don't file tax returns will finally start paying taxes. That way people who earn millions and, who, through clever accounting, pay no taxes, will start carrying their fair share.

Until our elected officials stop being politicians and start being statesmen, the economy will remain out of control.

And you personally? Is your life out of control?

God's Word requires capital punishment. You must die to your old way of life and turn complete control over to Him. Until you do that, nothing will change.


Published in the Augusta Chronicle 10/21/95

Copyright 1995 by David Sisler

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