There is an expression: turning swords into ploughshares, restoring despair to hope, war to peace, and putting an end to the chaos that has now taken over our major cities, where thousands are cowering behind closed curtains, while mobs are massing in the streets, looting, trashing, and burning what we had until now, considered to be the pinnacle of our present civilization.
It’s nonsense to talk about ‘a silent majority’, there is only a terrified majority of people struck dumb, afraid of being unlawfully arrested should they speak up. I remember the film “The Silence of the Lambs”. I also remember the story about the Kaiser without clothes, where no one dared point out that the man was starkers. And I want to turn this current, hypnotic paralysis back into a normal outrage against the wanton destruction of humanity. You can restore buildings but not mindsets. We have already experienced wanton bombing in Ukraine and are now watching the trashing of most of Europe and potentially our present civilization as we have come to know it. Mindless mobs have no concept of culture or socially viable reality. Media silence pretends to support political correctness but in fact only protects organized chaos. Our world is currently in a trance, and it is necessary to shake it back to reality. It is possible that we are the last planet in our universe, that still supports life, and laughter, until it too becomes a lump of iron ore and space dust – and then there will be none! What I am asking the media to do is invite all newspaper readers to turn back time and remember some extraordinary moment in their lives, that truly inspired, and by sharing, will also inspire others. What I am trying to achieve here, is for us to remember that it is still extraordinary to be a human being. Thank you!
Elin Toona Gottschalk
An Example Of What I Have In Mind: My Inspiring Moment And A Half
Mother, grandmother, and I fled Estonia in September 1944, ahead of the Soviets; I was age seven. It was 1990 when I returned home for the first time, as an adult. As soon as I arrived in Tallinn, I received an invitation from a retired journalist, Oskar Kuningas. He said he had something he wanted to give me personally. I went to his home. After stepping across the threshold, I proceeded extra carefully because the hallway was lined with books from floor to ceiling, and the huge living room was also packed and stacked; floor to ceiling. The only free space in the middle of all this was a small table and three chairs. In one chair – a wheelchair – sat the journalist’s wife, a paralyzed arm resting helplessly in her lap, and her healthy arm was placed across a cardboard folder in the middle of the table.
Kuningas pulled out a chair for me, sat in the third chair, and following formal introductions, got straight to the point. In short, he had been a young reporter when he heard that my great-aunt Aunt Alma had died and our house on the Haapsalu Promenade was about to be demolished. Our house was between Tchaikovsky’s Bench and a famous Mud Spa, regularly visited by the composer and the Romanoffs during the 18th century. The Promenade continues to be a tourist attraction to this day.
On hearing of Alma Saul’s death, Kuningas, then young and spry, jumped into his car and rushed to Haapsalu because he knew that every bibliophile in the country was also headed that way, to get their hands on my grandfather’s, the Estonian poet, Ernst Enno’s, library. It was known that he owned a collection of rare and esoteric literature from around the world, including the Kabbala and the Egyptian Book of the Dead.
Alas, when Kuningas arrived, the house was already empty. Not a single piece of furniture or kitchen utensil remained. But the ladder to the attic was still in place. He climbed up but the attic too had been looted. Not a single book! Our attic had no floor, only planks and sand between the struts. Kuningas was about to leave when his eye caught and stopped on the attic wallpaper; something was not quite right! The paper appeared lumpy and unevenly patched. He pulled off one of the patches – and now comes the inspiring moment – Aunt Alma had glued all of the poet’s original, handwritten poems, behind the attic wallpaper. And there was more; the poet’s notebooks and more files, buried in the sand between the floor planks. When Kuningas finished his sentence, his wife lifted her good hand from the file she had been guarding and gave it to her husband. The journalist then stood, bowed ceremoniously, and handed me the string bound folder – he said he had kept it all those years, hoping that one day I would return to Estonia. The poet’s original papers and poems are now at the Literary Museum in Tartu! The house was demolished shortly thereafter.
But wait, there is more to this!
The Promenade Christmas Tree
The next time I was in Estonia, I think 1992, shortly after Christmas, I hurried to the Promenade. The house was gone of course but a pile of rubbish had built up on our property, onto which someone had thrown their leftover Christmas tree. It lay on top; a few ornaments were still attached to the branches. After a closer look, I noticed that the tree’s roots were still fresh. I scooped a large hole in the garbage and planted the tree, as deep as I could, carefully spreading the roots – then left. When I returned to Estonia, a few years later, I hurried to the Promenade, and behold, the tree had not only rooted but was waist-high. I checked the tree every time I was able to return and Estonia is now a free country.
I came home permanently in March 2021. The city did not return our land to me but left my tree. The Promenade is still a tourist attraction, and my tree, now the City’s tree, is as tall and magnificent as the famous Christmas tree in Rockefeller Plaza, New York. I hope the City will consider decorating it some Christmas, as ceremoniously as the one in New York!
I mention this story as an example of inspirational moments; how poetry was saved ahead of the wrecking ball and a magnificent Christmas tree has risen out of a pile of rubbish. Those are the moments we need to share, affirm our humanity, and take back our planet, perhaps truly the last! Aitäh!