Marking an Epoch
Thank you for your special issue on 1989 [June 29 July 6]. The memory of '89 is still within all of us, and sharply informs our current world. Whether they show the killings at Tiananmen Square or the fall of the Berlin Wall, the images of that momentous year reverberate to this day. TIME did a great job in reviving them.
Peter Gumbel neatly portrayed events leading to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. Key to this was the role of Mikhail Gorbachev at the helm of Soviet affairs. One wonders why a man of Gorbachev's stature fails perhaps to garner as much critical acclaim as his contemporaries in the West. It probably has to do with his complicated ideological position, as both the leader and the reformer of the Marxist Soviet state. Eclecticism was the hallmark of his thinking and politics. Today the world needs more leaders who bridge differences rather than those who capitalize on them.
In 1989, I was a junior high school student and I was excited with the news of the world. But while you focused on the winds of political change blowing elsewhere, Japan's story was of economic turmoil. Even now we can't recover our economy from what it was in 1989. Since the bubble, Japanese affairs have been dominated by the economy only, and our society has been wholly shaped by the zeal to work and work and make more money. The article about the bubble bursting in 1989 reminds me that we have lost not only our financial vigor, but a larger sense of moral purpose in the country.
I could not locate in the text a single word about the most famous electrician in history, Nobel Prize winner Lech Walesa, and his role in dismantling the Soviet empire, or about the first noncommunist Prime Minister in Soviet-controlled Eastern Europe, Tadeusz Mazowiecki. It all started here in Poland. That is what I am teaching my kids, and that is what I expected to find in my favorite weekly.
I enjoyed your issue about 1989 being the significant year that it was. But I am surprised about one thing: the ousting and demise of Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania was totally ignored. I thought that was a very important event from that year. He was a man who had ruled harshly for nearly 25 years and the end of his dictatorship was one of the main turning points for freedom in Eastern Europe.
Auckland, New Zealand
Being French and highly influenced by the soixante-huitards wave of pseudo revolution, I was astonished by the convergence of earth-shaking changes that took place in 1989. It has taken me 20 years to realize how flawed 1968 really was and how strong, true and long-lasting 1989 will be in our history books. Many thanks for such a landmark issue.
Geoffroy de La Bourdonnaye,
Le Pradet, France
Raging in the Streets
Re "Iran's Awakening" [june 29 July 6]: I am an Iranian who wishes to convey to everyone who is fighting in Iran in a way we and our parents were not able to that we are humbled by the dedication you have displayed during the protests. Every night, Iranians have flooded the streets of Westwood, Los Angeles, wearing the colors of the campaign for freedom and carrying flags and candles. Children who have never played in the green pastures of Shomal have rallied among their parents holding pictures of those killed and flyers reading NEDA, WE WILL NEVER FORGET. You have done more for us than we could ever do for you. You have brought a community together: Jewish or Muslim, we agree we are Iranian first, that our 7,000-year-old heritage and culture are housed on the same ancient dirt you are shedding your blood on. Your bravery will not be in vain. You've kindled a light in us that will not die out until your voices are heard and your votes counted.