n the spring of 1991, even before the brief coup in August, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev found his authority and leadership tested on all sides. From Baltic states declaring their independence, to conservatives clamoring for a return to old-line communism, to progressives pushing for more economic reforms, the Soviet Union was a nation on the brink.
Things were coming to a head when demonstrators planned a massive march on Thursday March 28 in Moscow itself to show their opposition to government policy, hoping that 500,000 people would participate. The Kremlin banned demonstrations, issued dire warnings against protesters, and promised a massive show of force if the ban was defied. On everyone's mind was the peaceful January demonstration in Lithuania that was crushed by Soviet tanks and troops, in the process killing fourteen people.
On the day of the march, 50,000 troops and police crowded Moscow; 100,000 people ignored the ban and marched. Fortunately there were no clashes, but, commenting on short-wave radio, a BBC correspondent described Gorbachev's show of force as "a display of strength that showed considerable weakness."
The following day Christians worldwide celebrated Good Friday, the day when Christ voluntarily went to the cross and allowed his own creation to torture and kill him. A display of weakness that showed considerable strength.
— Greg Scharf Fargo, North Dakota
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n 1947, a professor at the University of Chicago, Dr. Chandrasekhar, was scheduled to teach an advanced seminar in astrophysics. At the time, he was living in Wisconsin, doing research at the Yerkes astronomical observatory. He planned to commute twice a week for the class, even though it would be held during the harsh winter months.
Registration for the seminar, however, fell far below expectations. Only two students signed up for the class. People expected Dr. Chandrasekhar to cancel, lest he waste his time. But for the sake of two students, he taught the class, commuting 100 miles round trip through back country roads in the dead of winter.
His students, Chen Ning Yang and Tsung-Dao Lee, did their homework. Ten years later, in 1957, they both won the Nobel prize for physics. So did Dr. Chandrasekhar in 1983.
For effective teachers, there is no such thing as a small class.
n Actions Speak Louder Than Verbs, Herb Miller writes: Two Kentucky farmers who owned racing stables had developed a keen rivalry. One spring, each of them entered a horse in a local steeplechase. Thinking that a professional rider might help him outdo his friend, one of the farmers engaged a crack jockey. The two horses were neck and neck with a large lead over the rest of the pack at the last fence, but suddenly both fell, unseating their riders.
The professional jockey remounted quickly and rode on to win the race.
Returning triumphantly to the paddock, the jockey found the farmer who had hired him fuming with rage. "What's the matter?" the jockey asked. "I won, didn't I?"
"Oh, yea," roared the farmer. "You won all right, but you crossed the finish line on the wrong horse." In his hurry to remount after the fall, the jockey had jumped on his competitor's horse.
Success is meaningless unless we are in the right.
— Judy C. Knupke Newton Lower Falls, Massachusetts
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hen Bill Veeck, perhaps the most creative promoter that baseball has ever seen, bought the Chicago White Sox in 1975, he hired as coach Minnie Minoso, who starred for the Sox as well as other teams in the '40s, '50s, and '60s. Always one for crowd-pleasing events, Veeck decided a year later to play Minoso, who was in his fifties, in several games.
Mike Veeck, Bill's son, recalls seeing Minoso bat in one of those games. "He hit a ground ball, a pitiful, routine, ground ball. It was one of the greatest things I've ever seen. Ask anyone who was there. He ran out that ground ball with such a passion, with such a pride. It was stirring, inspirational, just to see him run. The fans gave him a standing ovation."
Minnie Minoso gave it his all, and in so doing made a ground out more inspiring and more significant for others than a home run.
sea captain and his chief engineer were arguing over who was most important to the ship. To prove their point to each other, they decided to swap places. The chief engineer ascended to the bridge, and the captain went to the engine room. Several hours later, the captain suddenly appeared on deck covered with oil and dirt. "Chief!" he yelled, waving aloft a monkey wrench. "You have to get
down there: I can't make her go!"
"Of course you can't," replied the chief. "She's aground!"
On a team we don't excel each other; we depend on each other.
n Success, Motivation, and the Scriptures William H. Cook describes a meeting in 1923 of a group of business tycoons. Together these men controlled unthinkable sums of wealth, and for years the media had trumpeted their success stories. On this day in Chicago they assembled to enjoy their mutual success. Dr. Cook relays what happened to these men in the years that followed:
Charles Schwab, the president of the largest independent steel company, lived on borrowed money the last five years of his life and died penniless.
Richard Whitney, the president of the New York Stock Exchange, served time in Sing Sing Prison.
Albert Fall, a former member of the President's Cabinet, was pardoned from prison so he could die at home.
Jesse Livermore, the greatest bear on Wall Street, committed suicide.
Leon Fraser, the president of the Bank of International Settlement, committed suicide.
Ivar Krueger, head of the world's greatest monopoly, committed suicide.
The success they celebrated proved illusory.
— Joseph Saggio Crestline, California
What will he say when he shouts?" The question took me by surprise. I had already found that West African Bible College students can ask some of the most penetrating questions about minute details of Scripture.
"Reverend, 1 Thessalonians 4:16 says that Christ will descend from heaven with a loud command. I would like to know what that command will be."
I wanted to leave the question unanswered, to tell him that we must not go past what Scripture has revealed, but my mind wandered to an encounter I had earlier in the day with a refugee from the Liberian civil war.
The man, a high school principal, told me how he was apprehended by a two-man death squad. After several hours of terror, as the men described how they would torture and kill him, he narrowly escaped. After hiding in the bush for two days, he was able to find his family and escape to a neighboring country. The escape cost him dearly: two of his children lost their lives. The stark cruelty unleashed on an unsuspecting, undeserving population had touched me deeply.
I also saw flashbacks of the beggars that I pass each morning on my way to the office. Every day I see how poverty destroys dignity, robs men of the best of what it means to be human, and sometimes substitutes the worst of what it means to be an animal. I am haunted by the vacant eyes of people who have lost all hope.
"Reverend, you have not given me an answer. What will he say?"
The question hadn't gone away. " 'Enough,' " I said. "He will shout, 'Enough!' when he returns."
A look of surprise opened the face of the student. "What do you mean, enough?"
"Enough suffering. Enough starvation. Enough terror. Enough death. Enough indignity. Enough lives trapped in hopelessness. Enough sickness and disease. Enough time. Enough!"
— Gregory L. Fisher Los Angeles, California
n the December 31, 1989 Chicago Tribune, the editors printed their photos of the decade. One of them, by Michael Fryer, captured a grim fireman and paramedic carrying a fire victim away from the scene.
The blaze, which happened in Chicago in December 1984, at first seemed routine. But then firefighters discovered the bodies of a mother and five children huddled in the kitchen of an apartment.
Fryer said the firefighters surmised, "She could have escaped with two or three of the children but couldn't decide who to pick. She chose to wait with all of them for the firefighters to arrive. All of them died of smoke inhalation."
There are times when you just don't leave the ones you love.
— William R. Ezell Naperville, Illinois
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