Friday, May 30, 2014

When Putin Met President Reagan

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Twenty six years ago, President Ronald Reagan met Valdimer Putin on a street in Moscow.

Guess what Putin was doing?

Reagan also spoke to the students at Moscow State University.

His message to them is a message that students on American campuses should hear today---but the speaker would likely be uninvited because of the content of the message.

As you read, you will see an amazing picture of a young Putin observing Reagan on the streets of Moscow, with an explanation of the circumstances.

We will also glance at Reagan's speech and its result.

While in Moscow, President Reagan and Nancy took an unscheduled walk among the people on a Moscow shopping pedestrian street.

As the Reagans stepped out among the people, the Soviet security police roughly pushed both children and adults away from them.

Reagan was heard to say, "Well, it's still a police state."

Indeed it was.

But before the crowd could be dispersed, a photographer traveling with the president took the picture above.

In the photo you see a young "touristy" Vladimer Putin with a camera around his neck, pretending to be a tourist, while working for the KGB.

Reagan later commented on the pointed questions the "tourists" were asking him concerning human rights.

Here is a link to more detail about his fascinating visit to Moscow.

On that trip, Reagan also gave one of his many famous speeches. Some say this speech drove much of what would happen over the next 24 to 36 months.

His speech was titled, "Reason and Experience," borrowed from the words of America's first president.

He told the student body, "Freedom, it has been said, makes people selfish and materialistic, but Americans are one of the most religious peoples on Earth. Because they know that liberty, like life itself, is not earned but a gift from God, they seek to share that gift with the world."

Contrast those words with those of our current president who recently said, "America does not presume to know what is good for everyone all the time."

Reagan continued:

"'Reason and Experience' said George Washington in his Farewell Address, 'both forbid us to expect the national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. And it is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.'"

"Democracy," Reagan said, "is less a system of government than it is a system that keeps government limited, un-intrusive; a system of constraints on power to keep politics and government secondary to the important things in life, the true sources of value found only in family and faith."

He told the kids, "Your generation is living in one of the most exciting, hopeful times in Soviet history. It is a time when the first breath of freedom stirs the air and the heart beats to the accelerated rhythm of hope, when the accumulated spiritual energies of a long silence yearn to break free."

"I am reminded," Reagan said to Russia's next generation, "of a passage near the end of Gogol's 'Dead Souls'. Comparing his nation to a speeding troika, Gogol asks what will be its destruction---' there was no answer save the bell pouring forth marvelous sound'."

Reagan concluded telling the young generation, "We do not know what the conclusion will be of this journey, but we are hopeful that the promise of reform will be fulfilled. In this Moscow spring, this May 1988, we may be allowed that hope: that freedom, like the fresh green sapling planted over Tolstoy's grave will blossom forth at last in the rich fertile soil of your people and your culture."

Within the next 36 months, I personally would be standing by the Berlin Wall, in downtown Berlin watching that generation of youth tearing down the wall with pick and hammer---celebrating the collapse of the Soviet Union---the "Evil Empire." Celebrating a new found freedom.

A piece of the actual wall remains on my desk to this day. It reminds me that ultimately freedom is stronger than tyranny.

Christians and conservatives often ask, "Where is the next Reagan?" But that's the wrong question. There is no "next" Reagan.

The right question is how will God use me in His effort to restore a broken culture?

Leadership will emerge. You'll know him/her when you see him/her. Your spirit will bear witness.

Russia's own Tolstoy once said, "Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself."

Cultural restoration ultimately begins with personal spiritual restoration, not with the next politician who wants your vote.

It begins with you. And me.

It begins with..."If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray....."

Be Prayerful. Be Vigilant. Be Confident. Be Blessed.