The title was inspired from recently watching two excellent movies. The secession part of the title comes from the documentary film, The Other Dream Team.
The story of the 1992 Lithuanian Olympic basketball team, a group of trailblazing athletes who won the bronze at the Barcelona Olympics and left an indelible mark on the history books.
Led by the unique skills of Sarunas Marciulionis and Arvydas Sabonis, the 1992 Lithuanian Olympic basketball team helped their country break free from the shackles of Communism. After leading the U.S.S.R. to a gold medal (and victory over the U.S.A.) at the ’88 Seoul Olympics, Marciulionis and Sabonis were poster boys for the Soviet sports machine. Four year later, after the fall of the Soviet Union, they emerged as symbols of democracy, willing newly-independent Lithuania to the medal stand in Barcelona.
Lithuania was the first soviet state to secede from the USSR on March 11, 1990. However, Moscow did not accept the legality of the independence vote. On January 10, 1991, U.S.S.R. authorities seized the central publishing house and other premises in Vilnius and unsuccessfully attempted to overthrow the elected government by sponsoring a local “National Salvation Committee.” Three days later the Soviets forcibly took over the TV tower, killing 14 civilians and injuring several. The following day after this Bloody Sunday, 100,000 people surrounded the parliament and built anti-tank barricades. The Soviet forces retreated.
The Hunger Games part is inspired from the movie, The Hunger Games.
Every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the evil Capitol of the nation of Panem forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games. A twisted punishment for a past uprising and an ongoing government intimidation tactic, The Hunger Games are a nationally televised event in which “Tributes” must fight with one another until one survivor remains.
While both movies are excellent for different reasons, and comparing a documentary to a movie about a future society seems odd, both movies make one think about what has already taken place over the past twenty years. Lithuania was not the only Soviet state to secede, and eventually Russia seceded which finally finished off the U.S.S.R. The new Eastern European countries embraced the Milton Friedman principles of free enterprise and James Madison principles of limited government. Russia, on the other hand, reorganized into a totalitarian government very much like the nation of Panem in the Hunger Games movie. Russia is divided into eight districts that are governed by men appointed by the President of Russia. This eliminates all the muss and fuss of having to deal with any leaders elected by the locals. Instead of the Tip O’Neill maxim ‘all politics are local’ we have the Vladimir Putin maxim ‘no politics are local.’
It’s true that this happened halfway around the world, but let’s not be in denial that it can’t happen here. It would be foolhardy for the totalitarian camp or the defenders of liberty to divulge any plans in detail. That also doesn’t mean there are no plans. The politics of the status quo are not complicated, and they are also not sustainable. Those on the left win election because they convince their voters they will continue a big federal government that delivers on benefits. This is why there can’t be any real deal. The short-term political victory is pyrrhic because eventually they won’t keep the promises they made to get elected. They will try to hold on to power but voters who realized they were lied to won’t vote for them again.
The Hunger Games movie is especially disturbing when you realize over the course of human history the governed often consented to losing liberty for the sake of a strong ruler protecting them. The wisdom of Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson are the exceptions to the normal course of human events. These are interesting times that we live in, and we are coming close to the fork in the road. One path is secession, and the other path is hunger games. Below is a detailed account of the path Lithuania chose 22 years ago in January 1991.
On 12–13 January 1991, she was on guard at the TV Tower in Vilnius. Loreta Asanaviciute went there together with her namesake friend Loreta Trucilauskaite. Both of them worked at the amalgamation Dovana. At about 11 p.m. Loreta called her mother and promised her to return home. According to her friend, they were holding hands. Loreta Asanaviciute screamed, “I am afraid.” Her friend suggested kneeling down and praying, but the tank was already heading towards them. Three women — both Loretas and Angele Pladyte — found themselves under the tank; however, Loreta Asanaviciute was most severely wounded… She was taken to hospital still alive and had hopes to survive.
The last words, “Doctor, will I live?” froze on the lips of Loreta Asanaviciute. It was very hard to answer the question of the twenty-three year-old girl. Loreta met a horrible fate, was crushed by a tank… A few hours later, in hospital, her heart stopped beating.
However, we can bring some comfort to Loreta’s mother Stase Asanaviciene, sister Renata, and her brother Bronius and his family: Loreta and the thirteen men, who perished in defense of Lithuania’s independence, will live. They will live as long as there is at least one Lithuanian, and as long as the River Nemunas flows and its banks echo to songs.
It is no coincidence that songs are mentioned. Songs that Loreta inherited from her mother did not leave her lips until the tragic moment of her life. Loreta Asanaviciute, a fragile, reserved, modest, and humble girl was not a class leader while at school. She did not like loud music. Folk melody was a source of bright thoughts to her.
Stase Asanaviciene has been deeply shocked by her daughter’s death. She finds it difficult to speak. Therefore we talk to Renata, and the table is covered with the cloth knitted by Loreta.
“Your sister must have been very brave, wasn’t she?”
“I don’t know”, Renata says. “She was very sensitive and would easily burst into tears. When I was in hospital, she stayed with me all the time…Very recently, she told me that she had dreamt a very dark cloud and a black creature that tried to catch her. Who could have believed that the uncanny premonition would come true?”
Loreta, we will remember you in the Nation’s song…
The video below is a tribute to the Lithuanians murdered on January 13, 1991. Lithuanian poet Justinas Marcinkevicius wrote the lyrics to the song Laisve, the Lithuanian word for freedom. (It is pronounced le-ise’-vay) Here is a rough translation:
I can’t bear the thoughts about you anymore
Like an apple tree, weighted by the fruits
I twist tragically tree branches hanging down
And you say: “Stand, like freedom stands!”
So close it for me, the Fatherland, in itself
as the Song of Death closes the throat
Like the night closes the evening
And you answer me: “I am your freedom!”
And the endless journey to you!
already fell to the wayside like a stone
I cover by gray evening like with a moss
And you say : “Go as freedom goes!”