Azerbaijan International

Winter 2001 (9.4)
Page 27

Personal Experiences - These Past Ten Years

Gulnara AghayevaGulnara Aghayeva
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 our own.

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?

Azerbaijan International (9.4) Winter 2001.
© Azerbaijan International 2002. All rights reserved.

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