We 80s kids were the last to live our childhood during the Cold War. I can remember when Reagan said, "Tear down this wall!" to Gorbachev. I have flashbulb memories of the footage of the wall coming down, my German mother crying. I was in Germany the next summer, collecting pieces of the wall for myself. I still have them, along with some barbed wire and glass broken out of the guard towers. I witnessed the pollution and the poverty of the east at that time. I could not believe that I had relatives who had to live that way.
Jump ahead: When Kevin and I were in Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad, in 2005 we were told that you could still dig anywhere in the city and find bones because of the 5-month-long battle that had waged there between Germans and Russians in WW2. I wondered if my distant ancestors would consider me a traitor for adopting a Russian in this area into my own family. But if the stories I'd heard were true, not glossed over or revised to be on the right side of history, no one in my German family supported Hitler, in fact worked to subvert him, so I'd guess they'd find irony and humor in it. The living relatives certainly didn't care.
Before we physically had Kaden, we were essentially tourists in Russia, seeing the sights, shopping, and hitting every restaurant because we ate out every single meal, but we were warned (and warned and warned) that once we had Kaden to lay low, stay in our hotel. Russians resented Americans adopting babies, had been known to call the police if a child in their care was crying for any reason. They held suspicions that we were bringing the children home to be slaves. We followed the advice... sorta. We sometimes ventured out quickly for food but dined in the hotel more often than not. We did use a translator to show us the Kremlin, and when we realized a Russian family we knew from The States happened to be in Moscow we went with them to the zoo.
Another jump: In 2012 Putin ended all American adoptions of Russian orphans in retaliation for the U.S. Magnitsky Act. (Google it). Since then I almost never say Putins name out loud without putting the word "pissy" in front of it. Pissy Putin has a nice, condescending ring to it, don't you think?
This September: I read Ruta Sepetys's Between Shades of Gray and learned of a Stalin atrocity of which I'd never known--how Lithuanian intellectuals were rounded up in the early 40's and shipped to Siberian labor camps and even the South Pole to be silenced. (And after the election I wondered do I, like Lina's mother, now have reason to sew bribes within the lining of my clothes?)
And now: My oldest may have been born in Russia, we may have photos with Mother Russia and beautiful souvenirs, but we still recognize the evil in Russia's history and the present.
This very night: For a project, I was looking up both Donald and Hillary quotes from before election day. Oh this gem from the 3rd debate: “I actually think the most important question of this evening, Chris, is finally will Donald Trump admit and condemn that the Russians are doing this and make it clear that he will not have the help of Putin in this election, that he rejects Russian espionage against Americans which he actually encouraged in the past?”--HRC
Are we paying attention? Do we think there will be folks tried for treason for involvement and/or corrupt reasons for not following through with this Russian investigation prior to Nov 8th? Could one of those people be our president-elect? Is this bigger than the spying scandal that was Watergate? Whether it is or isn't--will it all blow over before we can know because of the power of the quickly re-filling swamp?
So yes, I think about various histories and if they even matter.
But also: that I will remain a person who cheers when walls come down and not when they are built, when treason is exposed, when the guilty face judgment and receive their due consequences.
And with all of this happening during the backdrop of Advent, I know I will cheer loudest when "the things of earth (particularly its corruptions and cruelties) grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace." Come, Lord Jesus.