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MET & TALKED WITH GORBACHEV : May he rest in peace

MET & TALKED WITH GORBACHEV : May he rest in peace
by James A. Marples
 Just days ago, came news of the death of the former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev at age 91.  Back in 2005, I took my late cousin Jon Marples to a lecture by Mikhail Gorbachev at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas.  Then, just two years later, I drove his sister Carole Marples (also my cousin), to the Belo Mansion in Dallas to hear a lecture by  Gorbachev in 2007.  Little did I know that on that evening, I would be able to talk to him (one-on-one) via the same interpreter he had used when talking to President Reagan at summits at Reykjavik and at Malta some years previous.
I asked Gorbachev a rather loaded-question as to whether he agreed with me that we need to preserve water wells, build more reservoirs, and use less pesticides which can seep into nearby storm sewers?  Gorbachev completely agreed with my thoughts.  I noted where my late grandparents and great-grandparents in Kansas and Nebraska had water wells.  He noted his grandparents likewise had water-wells. Gorbachev was officially an ‘atheist’, but his grandparents in the Ukraine were Eastern Orthodox Christians.  Gorbachev looked me square in the eye, and I looked at him squarely in the eye. I truly feel down deep he was a “closet Christian” for lack of a better term.
Some people credit Ronald Reagan for bringing down the Berlin Wall.  Others credit Pope John Paul II.  While both of these men were great orators, it was really Gorbachev who gave the nod of real power to signal liberation for the East Germans.  Reagan didn’t have such power. The pope didn’t have any power there at all. But, Mikhail Gorbachev did.  I think Gorbachev knew that his action would eventually lead to his ouster.  Great men are those who dare to do great things at great personal cost.
I don’t think Gorbachev cared for current Russian President Vladimir Putin one iota.  Putin is ruthless and a throwback to the old die-hard rigid communist party.  Gorbachev, on the other hand,  was the champion of “perestroika” (restructuring) and “Glasnost” (openness).
I believe if there is any hope of Russia thriving and even having a hint of progress for the common people, it will be thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev and nobody else.
I’m glad I met and visited with Gorbachev.  He was the only man I ever knew who could give a lecture and play chess at the same time.  Remarkable man. May he rest in peace.

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