Defending Identity: Its Indispensable Role in Protecting by Natan Sharansky

By Natan Sharansky

Who's higher ready to confront demanding situations and guard rules in a risky sleek global? people with powerful nationwide, spiritual, ethnic, or tribal identities who settle for democracy, or democrats who surrender id as one of those divisive prejudice?

Natan Sharansky, construction on his own adventure as a dissident, argues that worthless cosmopolitanism, even in democracies, is harmful. greater to have antagonistic identities framed by way of democracy than democrats detached to identity.

In a lively insightful problem to the left and correct alike, Natan Sharansky, as he has proved many times, is on the innovative of the problems that body our time.

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1968 was also the year of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Seven dissidents went to demonstrate in Red Square—dissidents whose daring we so admired, who had the courage to say what so many of us thought. But still I kept silent. This silence was broken the day I decided to apply for a visa to emigrate to Israel. qxd 14 8/27/08 11:50 AM Page 14 Defending Identity as a “cog,” as Stalin put it, in the Soviet regime. Immediately I lost my status, such as it was, in Soviet society. I destroyed my career prospects and many people began avoiding me.

The fire of freedom that burned inside me was fueled by a passionate connection to my people, our common history and our shared destiny. When I crossed the line from doublethink to dissent, I suddenly discovered a new world. I was no longer an isolated Soviet citizen but part of a vibrant community with a long history of struggle and liberation—a history that had left great empires in its wake. I no longer stood alone against a powerful state but rather with my people who were demanding a new Exodus from a presentday tyranny.

It took me time to understand what this fear of God meant. My understanding was at first very vague and uncertain. But at some moment it occurred to me, seeing it many times, that this fear was connected not simply to God the Creator but to the image of God in which man was created. This required me to go forward in an honest and direct way, without compromising principles. This fear, the fear of not being worthy of the divine image, not the fear of death, was what I was most afraid of in my interrogations with the KGB.

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