Apr 162008

I watched the 2nd YouTube segment of “A lesson of Belarusia” tonight. The way the students were distributing election campaign leaflets reminded me of “Sophie Scholl: Die Letzten Tage.”

But I also had to go back and look at one part of the first segment that had stuck in my mind. “Frankek’s” father is talking to his underground students, pointing out that, “If you write that things are no good in Belorusia, they will put you in prison.” One girl says that as a journalist she would start up a paper called “The Way to the Future.” The first four issues would be pro-state, then she would start changing its character. “In Belarus,” she says, “unjust laws should be evaded.” Their teacher laughes and teases her, saying, “That’s cunning,” but then gets more serious: “You are saying terrible things. Belorusians are taught to hold laws in contempt. We should not protest like that.”

That is an amazing position to take under those circumstances. It suggests that what wants to break out here is not an ordinary, garden-variety revolution that knows only how to tear down. It’s easy for the oppressed to lash out at oppressors and want to be free. But under such conditions, to want to build a national character that has respect for laws, is admirable.