The 'freedom of
grace' is one of the deeply human qualities that has become increasingly discounted towards zero in our busy world, in the shadow of competitive living, economic collapse, political tensions, terror, war threats, and so on.
A dialog unfolds
on the subject high above all of that, symbolically, a thousand feet above the landscape of one of the world's great cities, exploring the
key human qualities without which we would not have a civilization that enables us to exist richly by our created resources, and securely in proportion to which
these qualities are applied.
- The dialog unfolds in the background to a
fictional peace conference, in Chapter 2 of my novel, Seascapes and Sand,
of the epic series, The
Lodging for the Rose.
Lead in: - (Full
The Seventh Heaven restaurant was most pleasantly different than all the other revolving restaurants that I have been in over the years. For one thing, it was higher than most. It was located at the 900-foot level of Moscow's Ostankino TV-tower. For quite a few years this tower had reigned as the tallest building in the world. Also its restaurant, slightly above midpoint, was more beautiful than most that one finds on tall towers. In addition, as if it were to match its decor, the staff was polite and the service great. They even knew about my coming and remembered my name.
"Antonovna Valentina Lisitov," I read from my program sheet.
"Ah," said the Maitre'd, the American gentleman, Mr. Peter VanDerMere." He took me to the third level and to the far side, to a table for four.
Antonovna was already there when I arrived. She was elegantly dressed in black velvet with a silk blouse that matched the soft shine of her hair. I had wondered if I had taken a chance in renting a black suit for the occasion. Instead it was I who appeared to be underdressed, both in respect to her and in respect to the elegance of our surroundings.
At the particular part of the restaurant where we were seated, each table had been placed into a private space of its own. The entire floor was partitioned with elegant two-panel dividers made up of seven panes of glass each. The glass panels had delicate artwork etched into them. The two-parts of the dividers were set side by side, mounted into steel frames like a pair of French doors. The completed panels had a rounded top placed over them that reminded one of the rounded shapes of clouds, as if one was indeed in heaven. These panels surrounded us. Two much smaller panels of stained glass, also with rounded tops, were mounted over the windows like so many 'clouds' to complete the heavenly setting. Only the tablecloth didn't match the pattern. It wasn't white. The tablecloth was of a deeply dark green color, as if Earth and Heaven were coming together at this place close to a thousand feet above Moscow.
"Good evening Miss Lisitov," I greeted our tour guide and bowed slightly, as if I was addressing a person of royalty. The atmosphere of the place and her gentle charm inspired the gesture of formal respect. It made it appear natural. Of course, I always thought that every human being needs to be so honored, with the deepest respect.
"Good evening, Sir VanDerMere," she replied, and stood up for a handshake. She smiled benignly as she sat down again.
"Did I pronounce your name correctly?" I said when we were both seated.
"Well almost you did," she said and smiled again. "My name is Antonovna Valentina Lisitov. There is a long history attached to my name. And if I'm correct, you are Peter VanDerMere. Right?"
"Right!" I repeated. "I'm certainly pleased that we could meet," I added politely.
"Oh, so am I," she said.
I searched for a good opening line. Diplomats are supposed to be adept at this. But this time I wasn't. I couldn't think of anything that fitted the situation. Nor could I take my eyes off her to collect my thoughts.
"Are you puzzled by my first name?" she asked. "Anton is a boy's name in your country, isn't it? But in our country these things don't matter much. Would you like a drink?" she added.
"Some wine with the dinner, perhaps?" I said cautiously.
"How about a glass right now?" she said.
"Yes, that's a good idea, Antonova!" I said.
"No, no, Peter, my name is Antonovna," she corrected me. She emphasized the 'n' in the ending.
I apologized. "Maybe I should call you Anton for short," I said jokingly. "This way I'll get it right."
"Oh, you men! Why should you? I'm proud of my name. I'm Antonovna Valentina Lisitov. I have been given a beautiful name. Don't you think so? But for you I will make an exception," she added, grinning from ear to ear. "You Americans are all alike. You prefer to have things simple. So you may call me Anton, if that's your wish."
She took the wine list and opened it, but a moment later she laid it down again. "No one has ever called me Anton before," she said and smiled. "I never thought I would like it, but it sounds a kind of special coming from you, from a hero!"
"Me a hero? Heaven forbid, Anton!"
"Oh, no, I heard all about your involvement with America's Star Wars cancellation, and the way you presented it with hugs and kisses. I read about it in the papers. You gave to the world what millions of people had been hoping for. That makes you a hero. You gave the world a light at the end of a long tunnel. No one has done this for years. I said to myself, as I read about it, that I must make an effort to meet these people some day that had the courage to do this great thing. And here you are. And the most remarkable thing of all is that I didn't even have to ask. You came to me."
I shook my head. "You've got it all wrong, Anton. What we did in Venice was terribly wrong. There is no glory in canceling something that was designed to make the whole of humanity more secure in our nuclear-armed world. Believe me, there was a time when I hated the very idea of being involved in canceling it. I only allowed myself to become involved in wrecking this great idea, when I realized that it had already been wrecked by the time I got involved."
"You don't make any sense, Peter," Anton interrupted.
"That's because you've been taught to hate the wrong thing," I responded. "America's SDI proposal has been wrecked by sinister forces working in darkness, before I even became involved. The SDI idea was a grand an daring intervention to uplift and secure the whole of mankind. The glory for that belongs to the original author of the idea that officially became America's Strategic Defense Initiative. Unfortunately, it was wrecked before it got off the ground. You see the SDI in Russia as a Star Wars project. It wasn't designed to be that. It was designed to be a means for bringing the nations of the world together. America's foremost economist, named Lyndon LaRouche, had designed it. His idea was that humanity would be universally working together to create for itself an effective defense system against its intercontinental missiles, until it would find the wisdom to get rid of them. This means that the SDI system was actually designed for two interlocking objectives. One of these was that all people's lives would be protected until society would grow up sufficiently to find ways to get rid of its nuclear bombs. Right now we are like sitting ducks. We have no means to defend ourselves against an accident or some mad idiot somewhere in government doing something foolish. So, Lyndon LaRouche proposed that the whole of humanity should build this system cooperatively for its common defense."
"With the exception of the Soviet Union of course," Anton interjected.
"That's where you're wrong, Anton. Mr. LaRouche had personally invited the Soviet Union to participate. He had back-channel discussions with Soviet representatives, inviting the Soviet Union to participate. This was an official offer that he put forward on behalf of the American government. Russia was to be a key partner in the project. However, in order for the proposed defense system to be reliably efficient, he proposed that it be built on new and advanced physical principles that would make the defensive system ten times more efficient than the offensive system. Those advanced physical principles hadn't been developed at the time, but needed to be developed. That is where the second benefit for mankind was envisioned. The scientific and technological development, if it was cooperatively pursued, would have enriched the economies of all nations, and would have created a basis of prosperity that would have made war obsolete. The Soviet Union would have benefited immensely, even while it could have contributed strongly in this era. LaRouche proposed that the Soviet Union and the Western nations should develop the system as a joint project, and invite the rest of the world to become partners. His take was that such a far-reaching cooperative scientific and technological development, encircling the globe, would uplift no only the entire global economy with new technologies, just as America's Apollo moon landing project had done for the USA, but would also build many bridges to bring the world closer together. Of course, all nations would have been equally protected. The cooperative effort would have eliminated the isolation of America and Russia from each other, right off the bat. It would have created a basis for respect and unity. While the Soviet leaders initially welcomed the idea, they rejected LaRouche's proposal in the end and demanded that LaRouche be eliminated. The imperial crowd obviously got into the act and wrecked the idea that would have eliminated imperialism. They somehow managed to get Russia to do their dirty work for them."
story of the novel continues: