I can still hear Ronald Reagan in the back of my mind yelling to Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.” He was, of course, referring to the wall that separated East Berlin from West Berlin. It in fact cut Germany into two distinctly different countries, cultures, and societies. On the west side of the wall, Berlin was rebuilt, as was much of West Germany, due mostly to the Marshal Plan, a plan that committed aid to the rebuilding of Germany after WWII. The Americans believed that once freedom was planted, if nourished, would grow into a mighty force.

They were right, and freedom led to prosperity. That was on the west side of the wall. On the east side, in East Germany, there was a very different scenario. I always find the old divided Germany to be a great history lesson, but today it is only so for those who care to learn its lesson. The fact that it was conquered and divided is still taught today, but not the reason for it being that way. It was like looking at two different paths down the same road, like looking at what is, and what could have been. For the western side, what is. For the eastern side, what could have been.

While West Germany prospered, grew, and strived, East Germany remained the decrepit pit that it was after the war. It was under the control of communism, which of course sees an enemy everywhere, even in its own citizens. Communism is the opposite of freedom, where one’s movement is restricted, where one’s view of reality is filtered, and one’s spirit is crushed. As a result of those three things, East Germany stayed a shell which resembled a corpse, a scorched earth, while West Germany was reborn, life anew.

The Cold War was fought not with bullets nor bombs, but with rhetoric. The communists threatened us, and we threatened them. We both built bigger, meaner weapons. They got so big that we all started to live in fear. Fear of the great ‘what if?” What if they launch a first strike? What if we launch by accident? What if Ivan snaps and shoots one off somewhere? We entered the nuclear age. Building so many weapons, of course, is expensive. With each side trying to usurp the other, the arms race escalated. Trillions of dollars were spent. The Americans borrowed much of it, as they had the spending power due to their amazing economics, spurred on, of course, by freedom. The Russians simply went broke. They spent more on their military than they did on their people, the same people they professed to be protecting. They built bombs instead of feeding their own, or rebuilding, or investing in infrastructure. Their nations fell apart.

Ronald Reagan is indeed credited with helping to accelerate the demise of communism, and as such, it is generally accepted that we did in fact defeat the enemy. The question I must pose is why then are we becoming them? Consider the things that made us what we were, and consider the things that made the communists what we thought characterized them.

The communists were hated for a few simple reasons. They brutally oppressed their own citizens, denying even the most basic fundamental human rights that we took for granted. They were the right to freedom of movement, freedom of speech, and freedom of thought. Indeed, even the sanctity of life that God had bestowed on every Westerner was derided in communism. The state was god. All else mattered not.