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Friday, April 23, 2010

Estonia Sings to the Well

Numbers 21:16-18: Then Israel sang this song, "Spring up, O Well, Sing about it, About the well that the princes dug, that the nobles of the people sank--the nobles with scepters and staffs." From there they continued to Beer, the well where the Lord told Moses, "Gather the people together and I will give them water."

Do the Israelites sound superstitious? Why would they have the nobles and princes of the people dig a well, which apparently wasn't fully effective, and then sing to it to release the ground water into the well? Who could possibly believe that such an approach could be effective?

Never say never. Yesterday my husband and I watched a beautiful documentary about the fall of the Soviet Union. It began with a song! The Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian people were all caught between incursions of the Germans during the war and the Russians afterward. Their occupation seemed endless, and the men and women who disappeared numbered in the thousands. Some were went to German concentration camps, or to Siberia, while others were just shot. Life under the Soviets was that of repression and grinding, ridiculous propaganda. First, there was the original attempt to kill off the leadership and intelligentsia, then to crush and destroy the language and culture. The one Estonian tradition that did not die was the annual song fest where thousands of Estonians would gather to sing. Some of the songs were patriotic. They seemed to have an almost magical ability to fan the flames of hunger for national identity and freedom. The DVD documentary that we watched was called "The Singing Revolution" and I recommend that anyone who reads this blog rent it and watch it. I recall many of these events taking place in the 80's, but I never put them together in context. I had no idea the brave and amazing bid for independence that was made by these non-violent people, who had no weapons, no jets, no bombs, no terrorist philosophy, and no political clout. Only their courage, their inspiring festival, AND an amazing unity amongst themselves.

Their situation was complicated by a plan as old as ancient Assyria. Move the native people out and replace them with your own. Then claim that those people need the protection of their own government. A further excuse for continued occupation.

Rent the video and watch it! But ladies, have a box of kleenex nearby. We sent our soldiers to Vietnam with guns, planes and chemical weapons because we feared that if Vietnam fell there would be a domino effect which would sweep all of Southeast Asia into the communist net. In the case of Estonia, the dominoes fell the other way with a shot being fired. With the moderate and progressive leader Mikael Gorbachav playing a key role, the Soviet Union fell in a very short time. Nation after nation declared independence, including Russia itself.

Please don't tell me that the Old Testament stories are just silly legends. Estonia sang to the well of Freedom, and God gave them water.