The Crystal Set

1958. I started grade school in 1958. It was a simpler time. It was a special time. Americanism and its exceptionality was recognized, respected, sought and in many cases feared. It commanded acknowledgment and respect for the majesty of its goals and the surety it offered to the world it once led against the powers of despotism seeking the enslavement of the free world.

Children in that simpler time were taught, as a curricula requirement, the lessons of civil responsibility. We were taught we needed to understand the necessity to vote and we must participate in government. We were told it’s a requirement to maintain individual and national liberty. We watched the Iron Curtain descend and the Berlin Wall erected a couple of years later.

We learned other children had no choices in the form of government they lived under; neither did their parents. The STATE directed it all: thought, speech, school, lessons learned not from the basis of God given right as we understood but from the perpetually force fed theories of guys named Marx and Lenin. Those ideas were enforced by guys named Stalin and Khrushchev. Whatever you had could be diminished by the state daily as they took existent stores of goods and spread them amongst a growing number of state dependents.

A child, one of the last to escape East Germany before the erection of the Berlin Wall, came to a school in my area. She was about 12 as I remember it. She told her story of how her family gathered around a small crystal radio set to listen to Radio Free Europe; a forbidden act under Communist rule. A Crystal radio requires no power source but a length of copper wire for an antenna, a copper wire tuning coil, a crystal detector composed of a semiconducting mineral and speakers or a headset.

She said her father would place the radio in a metal box and bury it nightly in the rose garden they’d adapted into a small vegetable patch to avoid hunger. The little girl further told of being forced to learn communist lessons and join communist youth groups to be indoctrinated to the “benefits” of party rule.  It impressed many of us. We came to understand freedom is an easily displaced birthright. It can be stolen by the greedy and power hungry.

All this came to mind as I listened to a radio while Hurricane Isaac passed overhead making life a pain in the neck I’d suffered too many times but, under far worse conditions. It hit a nerve allowing me to remember a time over fifty years ago. I remembered how easily everything can change. Katrina was the worst with Andrew a nasty second, and then Rita and Gustav placed an equal third in the rankings. It all was better or worse for how you treated your responsibility to prepare, and avoid the ramifications and consequences of your action, or failure to take appropriate action. How well you prepare directly indicates how well, and comfortably you’ll ride out a storm.

I was listening to coverage of the Republican National Convention (RNC) before the storm killed the electricity. I continued getting news on my Smart-Phone. I imagined that little girl sitting before her father’s Crystal Set getting her optional thoughts from those wanting her safety and freedoms restored in her lifetime.

The RNC in no way equals the impact Radio Free Europe had on the lives of people enslaved under the repression of European Communism. But, the imagery of a young person learning the world’s truths from people dedicated to freedom and personal liberty for all impressed me. I developed a freshened kinship with my past when a survivor of harsh rule told just how bad things can be if you’re not aware of what’s going on around you.

It’s a resurrected cautionary tale whispered into an old ear and spoken to the young. Beware your government; there are those want to take your control of it away from you. They’ll keep you in the dark behind an Iron Curtain of ideologically based lies and false promises.

Seek out Crystal clarity in your thinking.

Thanks for listening.



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