The man who lost an empire

Mikhail Gorbachev
25 years after the collapse of USSR and the rapid disintegration of the Soviet empire, Steve Rosenberg of the BbBBC went to Moscow to interview Mikhail Gorbachev. The full interviw can be read at

“Between the past and the future is the blink of an eye,” he sings, “and that instant is what we call life.”

“The Soviet Union passed in the blink of an eye. What are 70 years compared to the Roman or Ottoman empires?”

I wish other world leaders – Trump of the US and Zuma of South Africa to start with – would realize that for all the hubris, ill-gotten gain and rampant falsehood that characterizes politics and their will to power, they are actually mere pitiful men.

“All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall” is true as ever, but men seem so filled with self importance they’d sooner destroy everything for a few moments of glory.

Gorbachev lost an empire, and yet has the humility to see that what he held and lost occurred within the blink of an eye.

The new year is about the break upon us again, and with all its hullabaloo, we’d do well to heed the words of Ecclesiastes:

Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
What does man gain by all the toil
at which he toils under the sun?
A generation goes, and a generation comes,
but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises, and the sun goes down,
and hastens to the place where it rises.
The wind blows to the south
and goes around to the north;
around and around goes the wind,
and on its circuits the wind returns.
All streams run to the sea,
but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
there they flow again.
All things are full of weariness;
a man cannot utter it;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
nor the ear filled with hearing.
9What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there a thing of which it is said,
“See, this is new”?
It has been already
in the ages before us.
There is no remembrance of former things
nor will there be any remembrance
of later things yet to be
among those who come after.


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