This past week, my daughter stood in Red Square. I mean, the famous Red Square of Moscow, Russia. Red Square, that sits at the foot of the Kremlin palace, former USSR seat of power. Red Square, the scene of May Day military parades that celebrated the rise of the Soviet Revolution in 1917. Red Square - the very words caused a feeling of foreboding in the hearts of American schoolchildren in the 1960's - at least it did in mine.
We were taught to fear the Soviets. Oh, not in so many words. I wasn't privy to hiding under my desk during air raid drills like some children. But I do remember being instructed as to where the nearest air raid shelters were. I remember the once a month testing of the air raid siren system. I remember being given the reason, "Just in case the Russians nuke us." I didn't know what that meant but it was enough to teach me that this was a country to fear, that this country was our enemy and their form of government was not to be trusted.
What a difference a few decades can make. The Communist system is broken. Red Square is no longer the seat of Soviet power. Today, my own child walks the streets of Moscow, studying at one of the city's international universities. If someone had told me when I was ten that my own child would travel to Red Square, I would have found that inconceivable.
I would find that so because what I was taught sounded like such a forever kind of thing. Now I wonder, what if my teachers had believed that someday, Russia would be liberated from the Soviet regime? How then would they have taught us? What would they have told us instead? Would they have painted the evils of the Russian Empire with such a broad brush? Would they have taught us to hope, to love our enemies, to do something that would actually encourage the downfall of an oppressive government system? If the American schoolteacher of the 60's and 70's had taught hope rather than fear, would Communism in the Soviet Block have loosened its vice grip a few years sooner?
We need to teach our children to hope, to persist, to believe that anything is possible, and nothing is forever. We need to teach them that God is more powerful than any evil and no nation is supreme. We need to remind them of Bible verses like Psalm 33:10, "The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples." We need to teach the stories, like Chuck Colson did in his book, "God and Government" how God has personally intervened in the affairs of government, such as in the downfall of Ceausescu, the dictator of Romania, in 1989. We need to teach them to believe that through the power of God, man can change and be better than he was. We need to teach them not to cower in fear, but to stand tall, willing to face the danger, knowing that, while they may be shot at, they can be a part of influencing wrong to turn into right. We have to believe that someday, their legacy may stand where evil and corruption reigns no more. We need to imagine that someday we - and our children - and our children's children - could stand in the Red Squares of our generation.
It depends on what we teach them.