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A Towering Challenge

As I look back to the strange serendipitous circumstances that led to an even stranger destiny in my life, I ask big questions concerning what has been learned from the demise of the Soviet Union, which hauntingly followed me back home.

At that time that the USSR collapsed, the US had become the only remaining global superpower. Central and Eastern Europe had suddenly become ripe for massive economic development and the poorly known city of Wrocław, Poland became a prime hub for the further expansion of globalization.

The PTSD reactions I witnessed, when someone in whose home I stayed in Wrocław had an emotional tantrum over being asked to offer flowers to a woman, has penetrated our lives in innumerable self-defeating ways. It has opened the door to massive corruption, that has come to threaten the foundations of both old and new democratic institutions. The naiveté of my own ambitions in Poland mirrors what I see everyday in what I hear, read and witness in current political discourse, which is a big reason I feel compelled to tell this story.

By virtue of another extraordinarily serendipitous coincidence, in early December of 1991, I made a nine day trip to Moscow, at the exact moment that the USSR was officially disbanded. I took a photo of elderly Russians in Red Square, mourning the demise of the totalitarian communist system. They carried posters, one with a photo of Stalin and another containing the word “fascism.”

Years later, like Bill Browder, myself and others, Donald Trump learned the hard way how difficult it was to establish a business in the former totalitarian Soviet Bloc. Trump tried and failed to build a tower in his name, in Red Square.

The tragedy of this is that, unlike Browder and myself, he was willing to engage – with the aid of corrupt, powerful Russians, who exploited their country and people in the new free enterprise atmosphere – to kombinować (kombinirovat in Russian) his own country and people, with their help.

Surely, one would think, that in writing “novels against nationalism,” this was not the sort of cooperation between disparate cultures that Tokarczuk had in mind.

Nor did the cooperation I had so enthusiastically anticipated with Tokarczuk become anything at all as I had in mind.

To think what might have been possible had she recognized the rare opportunity to engage with an enthusiastic, inspired foreigner, who had once been so moved by the spirit of Solidarity, that I had accepted as a destined sense of purpose.

Instead, once again, a precious landmark has become a complete waste in a far away land.

From the Culture Concept Circle:

Towers are structures that come out of a tradition as old as our memories of time and their symbolism has evolved with our own cultural development. The many towers around the world standing today are a potent reminder of all our desires for hope and freedom. They are symbolic of a future filled with faith and promise for everyone.

With pandemics and climate change threatening survival of life on our one and only planet, the biggest question of all is whether, in the spirit of self-worth and ideas for the future, humanity will ultimately reject those, whose egos stand in the way of mutually beneficial progress, and wake up to a towering challenge we must face, of pooling our individual spirits, talents and energies in unison, with no time left to lose.

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