Winter 2001 (9.4)
Experiences - These Past Ten Years
I think life would be quite routine without many of today's challenges
if we were still part of the USSR. Back then, someone else was
always deciding life's pathway for you. To me, comparing the
Soviet period with today is like comparing a black-and-white
photo with one of brilliant color. Perhaps the older generation
holds a different view, but for me, those last ten years of the
Soviet era were mostly shades of gray.
The hardest thing for me has been dealing with all of the uncertainty
and instability and having to get used to all of the changes
in our value system. After 70 years of living under one system,
in which basic stability was virtually guaranteed by default,
it wasn't easy to get used to a completely different life in
terms of the political and economic instability of the early
1990s. It was almost like we had been living in one big family
and could rely on the support and encouragement of everyone.
But then suddenly, we woke up one day to realize that we were
actually all alone and had no knowledge of how to survive on
I miss the Soviet educational system and the atmosphere in which
we grew up. It was mandatory for everyone to get a good level
of basic education. Just as a building depends on its foundation,
human beings depend on what their minds have been fed during
the first 10-15 years of their lives. We were taught to be honest
and to spread kindness. We lived in a child's world and weren't
exposed to the problems of adults. Even the cartoons of that
time were kinder and more human, influencing us in only positive
ways. That's very different from the commercial cartoons that
children watch nowadays.
I would describe this period in a wide palette of colors, from
the darkest to the brightest. But the dark, negative things are
not for sharing with the future generation. Only the bright,
positive information should be preserved and carried within our
memories. These past ten years have been very colorful and exciting.
They've been all about learning and adjusting to a way of life
that is totally new and unknown to us. And we've had to do it
in a relatively short period of time. This decade has been the
summer after a long, cold winter. These years have been about
opening borders and meeting the other part of world from which
we were isolated for such a long time.
Ecological issues might become the most critical problem for
Azerbaijan in these next few decades. Now we're confronted with
the way we have treated Mother Nature in these last 80 years,
and we have to figure out how to remedy the situation. Not much
has improved in this regard since the collapse of the Soviet
Union. The direction we are heading in today does not promise
significant positive changes in the years to come. We are part
of Nature, and whatever harm we do to Nature, we do to ourselves.
What could be worse than seeing your closest loved ones suffering
from illnesses because of the attitudes and practices that are
damaging Nature today?
(9.4) Winter 2001.
© Azerbaijan International 2002. All rights reserved.
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