How did I Celebrate March 8th, the Women's Day? By Showing Americans how I Love them
Why did the Communists celebrate with such a vigor the International Day of Women? And boy, they did! Celebrations were set up everywhere, an armful of red carnations was given to all women, glasses with champagne were lifted, poems were recited, jokes were told, songs were penetrating late hours of the March 8th year after year when men, joyfully, were returning home.
The International Day of Women was a Communists' showcase and this is why:
As women around the globe were joining the International Day celebrations mainly for fighting inequality, (the Day was set in Russia in 1917 after women got suffrage), the Communist countries boasted, and boasted loudly and ostentatiously that women are equal to men in Communism: They are paid the same as men and it is yet another proof that Communism is the only just system, the Communists screamed. (Where was freedom? ) They were also boasting that women work in any position, that no position is exclusively "males'' ones. Only in Communism, they screamed on, is equality!! Only they forgot to mention that the reason WHY women were in many "males" positions was that the WWII wiped out so many men that women had to take their jobs out of necessity. (Very high positions in politics and industry were still mostly males' positions.) By the grand celebration on the March 8th, the Communists wanted to let the universe know that unlike the West, the East is treating the humanity right. ( Only without dignity of freedom and democracy.) But to be fair, one great thing came out of this: Thanks to this matter of men and women being paid equally, we, women in Czechoslovakia did not need bold feminist movement. How ironic, living without democracy and freedom, but with the equality of pay.
I was invited to the charming La Playa Bookstore in Point Loma (visit if you did not yet!!) to speak about the European history and such. I was happy to do that as I love gathering in a place full of books, and it was the best celebration I could ask for! I decided to let my American and Czech audience know how I feel about America. How I found here a haven, a place peopled with people who established their life on four pillars: Democracy, freedom, solidarity, and empathy. How they built a platform for millions of people like me (it is 45 millions of us here) to make our life here. Even though I am an idealist I, of course, know, that America made some fundamental mistakes on its way, just like any society prior them. But at the same time, what Americans built, this land full of compassion and accommodation is unprecedented.
THANK YOU La Playa Bookstore! It is a charming place with an incredible selection of books, passioate and knowledgeable staff and owners, and a place with great vibes. They are what a community bookstore should be - a place where people meet, find a book or two, sit down, read a page or two and leave inspired. La Playa Bookstore, 1026 Rosecrans, SD, 92106, you can follow them on Facebook or visit their website https://www.laplayabooks.com
And here are some of my thoughts on America that I celebrate today and every day.
MUSING AT LIBERTY STATION
Walking at Liberty Station, I am enjoying the charm of this green urban park I seek often.
My steps take me right to the pole carrying an unusually large American flag. Yellow and red roses, four magnolia trees and green bushes surround the stark pole. I look up. The sky is as blue as it can be and my eyes follow the undulating flag making a pleasant flapping noise above my head. It is the same music I know from my grandma’s cherry orchard where she would put her white sheets very high up by propping the clothesline with a huge eight- foot pole. The white sheets would flap away bringing unusual life into the solemn orchard.
I lean backward and I stare at the flag. It is beautiful in its blue, white and red colors. All these years I live in America
this flag never lost its enticing flavor for me. It never lost its excitement. It never lost the suggestion that if you can choose to live anywhere in the world, it should be under this flag. I can stand here for hours and just stare. And I do.
And all kinds of thoughts go through my head.
Like…how it is when this handsome flag is stuck in the furthermost western part of Czechoslovakia in May 1945 when Americans liberate the city of Pilsner and Germans start running for their lives, scared, desperate and frighten. How that must have been.
And I imagine the dust-covered handsome American soldiers and the high cheeked Czech women all over them with armloads of gentle purple lilacs that become the symbol of victory in that war…. Unfortunately, the war tactics executors decide at the Yalta conference, that this handsome attractive flag cannot move any deeper into my country, no more steps toward the East. That territory is reserved for a different liberating army. It so happens that the Czechs end up with “the other” liberator who liberates my country only to suck it up later.
I stare at the American flag today and it moves me to realize that the flag belongs to me as well.
Anytime I see a Czech flag go up or flap in the air I have always tears in my eyes.: At the Olympic victories, ice hockey championships, at the arrival gate at Prague airport, flapping away at the Prague castle…But that admiration is different. It is a flag of my people, my nation. I see in that flag my heritage, my ancestors, my history, our endless fight for independence, our proud moment of victories and sad moments of betrayals or downfalls...it is a flag that belongs to people with whom I am connected by language, culture, ethics, customs, songs, jokes, national character....
But back to my musing about the American flag and what it means to me — like the world of freedom, the world of tolerance, decency, rock and roll, Mickey Mouse, beatnik poetry, jeans, Wrigley bubble gums, Cannery Row, Coca-Cola, Woodstock, City Lights Bookstore, Golden Gate Bridge, Walt Whitman and all these great thing life cannot be without.
And I see the flag this way in spite of several sad facts…. when Americans betrayed their good judgment here and there, when they acted quicker than they should, or they let their emotion give way to cheap nasty tricks…in spite of all this, American flag represents for me the most tolerant people I have met. The most sensitive people. The most accommodating people. The most progressive people who show the world over and over how to stride ahead, how to keep their pure ideals, of offering a dignified life, close to their hearts. I believe in those ideals. Those ideals hurtled me over the ocean to live them and taste them.
And so my Americans, thank you for helping me start making my modest ends meet in your country. Thank you for thinking my accent is cute rather than my English is imperfect. Thank you for your endless patience. Thank you for welcoming me and cheering me on.
And here is my resolution – the Swedish may have a higher standard of life, Finland may have better education, Czechs may have better beer, Swiss may have better watch but no one on this planet measures your humanitarian approach towards the world. You are the beacons of the ideal world. I am happy I have the opportunity to be a part of it and I have been ceaselessly cheerfully spreading the word about you around the globe. Call me naïve. Call me an idealist. I love these names being said in one breath with my name.
I miss my country terribly as you would if you lived in Europe, I miss many things that I know I can never find here as you would if you lived abroad, but at the same time I know I keep helping to push our life on earth forward, thanks to you.
I know my children, the first generation Americans, will become what you are – that non-judgmental tolerant sensitive people eager to help and eager to understand the world. (Of course, I also hope they will take some features from their parents, the stubborn wild opinionated newcomers stuck in their old fashion ways, but always appreciative of their gracious hosts.)
So much for my session in front of one of two most beautiful flags in the world, both happening to be in red, white and blue and both belonging to people I would go with to the end of a livable world. Only with you, I would go with a smile and in all decency and on the designated routes while with my compatriots I would be loud argumentative judgmental and with ease, I would go off road to find many shortcuts in the wilderness.
Which road would I choose is a question, but I am grateful and appreciative of having the choice. I see it as quite a privilege and my eternal victory.