What Prisoners We Are to Our Past

by Richard Woodford
(Salt Lake City, UT)

Back in the 1960's, during the height of the cold war, I was in Kiev, the capitol of the Ukraine. At the time I was working for the United States government, a job which took me into the "Communist Bloc" countries. One evening while at a social event I became engaged in a political discussion with several local citizens. This is something you should not do while on their turf because citizens of the Soviet Union were never allowed to meet with non-Communist guests without first being "prepared" by local security types (KGB). Later, I found by hard experience these are no-win experiences in which you usually end up frustrated and angry.

More from lack of experience than intentional purpose I allowed the discussion to become "hot and heavy." After enduring several verbal blasts about American foreign policy I began a very hot reply with the words: "You Russians." Their response was immediate - red faces, clenched fists, etc. I stopped in mid sentence; I had hit a raw nerve. After a terse silence I was coolly informed they were not Russians they were Ukrainians and they were very incensed that I would call them Russians.

All of the Communist drivel about solidarity and the new communist man went out the window. Nationalism was still alive as we later saw it emerge after the Berlin wall came down.

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Jan 22, 2011
by: mbcecil89

Wow! How interesting. That's the kind of thing you never really hear...the news and information coming from official sources doesn't really give the true human picture. Thanks for sharing your experiences:)

Jan 31, 2011
Sorting people into boxes...
by: Anonymous

Interesting story! Amazing how easily we sort people into categories...and sometimes they don't fit. That's what our culture does for us.

Jul 25, 2011
Thanks for your story
by: Leslie

Richard, thanks for sharing your story. I bet you have lots of great stories from your travels abroad. Would love to have you share more with us.

Jun 11, 2015
Good post
by: Reese Batz

You have a professional niche site, thank you for your awesome work! Your niche blog is one of the best I saw! Thank you!

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