Gift of the Gulag: Pebble on the Tongue

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn is not known to have written much about his epic, and often painful, travels – to Kazakhstan and his years in the gulag, to Germany when exiled and made stateless by the Soviet authorities, later around the world as a celebrated Nobel laureate, and eventually back to Mother Russia.  But he did write about travels of spirit and mind.  In especially poignant lines in ‘Gulag Archipelago’ he discloses a transforming insight, a souvenir of his spiritual ventures: 

It is only when I lay there (in the gulag) on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good.  Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties, either, but right through every human heart – and through all human hearts.

          – Gulag Archipelago

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who died in August, 2008, is buried at a Russian Orthodox monastery outside Moscow.  Fete’d in the liberal west during the Cold War for his withering criticism of the Soviet Union, he also turned his disapproving gaze on the secularism of the West.  He was, first and last, a son of traditional Russian culture that adored its poets, musicians and writers.   
photo credit: Vitaly Lipatov    

If travels confer any wisdom at all, none could be more humanizing, none more powerful for advancing the cause of understanding, than this insight.  


4 thoughts on “Gift of the Gulag: Pebble on the Tongue

  1. Thanks Jonathan for this poignant insight of Solzhenitsyn. Easter Blessings to you, Mary Kay and wider family. Love, Frances Boston

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10

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  2. Thank you, Jonathan. I’m glad you keep this up and I’m happy that in this edition you lift up Solzhenitsyn. The Lord be with you in this Holy Week and the coming Easter season.

    Greetings to Mary Kay. Chad Founder of Urban Recipe wwww.urbanrecipe.org

    Author of Forgive Us This Day Our Daily Bread

    chadhale@bellsouth.net (c) 404-698-6545

    >

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