Peace in our Time

This quote from British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain in 1938, was an attempt to appease and contain the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler, after Germany had already annexed a part of Czechoslovakia, known as the Sudetenland.  Despite this pronouncement, World War II began within a year with the German invasion of Poland—a war that eventually spread around the globe.


Now I am watching the armored vehicles, the tanks and the soldiers moving in from the East, North and South, across the borders, to surround the populace and to display “that might makes right.“ The justification: the empire suspects this “renegade” government and its people have lifted the veil, peeked under the heavy curtain once again, to view the vibrancy and color of another way of being— of tasting the fresh breeze blowing in from the West.


But this is not the Ukraine, 2022. This is again Czechoslovakia,1968. It is a seminal year for all events: social, cultural and political, worldwide. The world is watching… hoping and holding its breath, for the outcome to be revealed. Can this ragtag group of dreamers overcome the odds—will support come from people and governments around the globe?


While the Soviets thought their incursion into Czechoslovakia would kill the spirit of the people within days of their occupation—it in fact turned into an eight month siege, fueled by the courageous idealists, in and around their capital city of Prague and elsewhere throughout the country. 


The flowering of that historical moment became known as the “The Prague Spring.” Spring, normally known as a season that gives rise to new births, new beginnings— would produce a bitter harvest in the following years. 


Our nation was birthed from a response to tyranny and occupation and we learned from that experience. We have seen how our democracy will always remain a work in progress—many times falling short of its ideals.  We also continue to see that some countries have rarely attempted to create, nor seem interested in creating that more perfect union”—and the catastrophic results that have occurred. 


Insulated by our geography, we have not known the suffering and carnage, writ large, other nations have experienced during two world wars in the Twentieth Century that took place on European and Asian soil.  But a visionary new order, that included cooperation amongst nations, along with international organizations and treaties signed, allowed for a post-war European and Asian recovery and peaceful coexistence throughout the world for the next seventy years.


Now, we are at another inflection point. Can we see how our history is inextricably bound to the world’s history?  Can we not be limited to a myopic vision that defines who we are— a three thousand-mile stretch of land between two coasts. We are a member of the global community!  Can we make the sacrifices at home to uphold those same ideals we fought for in the last century, that a people thousands of miles away are fighting and dying for right now? Surely, that is not too much to ask. Or shall we continue to turn away and be consumed by our own isolation as political philosophies around the world collide?


The world is again watching and holding its breath.  The answers are waiting!


NOTE: E.G. Singer's maternal grandparents were born in the Ukraine, lived in Kyiv, and immigrated to the America to escape persecution. 



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