Chapter 11 - Return to Oymyakon.
We met Captain Yuri on the high seas some three hundred miles from shore. The Coast Guard had brought us to the agreed upon spot. One of the Russian officers picked us up with a rubber raft after the Typhoon had surfaced. Once this was done the real work begun.
It took as many days to convince the Russian captain of the validity of our mission, than it did for the sub to return with us to Murmansk. In Murmansk, he showed us the graves. He brought us to Nicolai's resting place that was marked by a cross that bore the composition of Nicolai's full name intertwined that of Antonovna, the combination that Anton had treasured. The inscription was almost identical to the one I had seen on the invitation card where their names were finely printed like a landscape across the card. She had been proud of this composition of their names as: Nicolai Vasily and Antonovna Valentina Berendeyev Lisitov. I could still see her bright smile as she had pointed this out to me on that radiant morning in Novosibirsk. Now I saw it carved into the stone cross that marked their grave.
Yuri had paid for the stone and the inscription. He had found the composition of their names on an invitation card he once received. Ushi, evidently had no idea what all this meant, nor did I elaborate. This had been a part of our private domain, and so was the grief I felt for the loss I suffered, and the loss that humanity incurred by their untimely death that should not have happened. I should have prevented it. Their death was caused by the world's apathy, and our own apathy, my apathy. The SDI system should not have been shut down. The greatest efforts should have been expended to get the Soviet Union to agree to the joint development of it, as the system had been designed to be developed. If this had been done, Nicolai and Anton would still alive to live and breathe and love, and continue in their struggle to enrich their country and the world. Even the Soviet Union would have been spared the collapse it suffered. The worldwide scientific and technological development focus that would have resulted, would have enriched the Soviet economy, and the Soviet State with it. But all this was gone. Millions had died because of that single failure, and Nicolai and Anton had died with them.
I could still remember the euphoria in Venice when we felt we had done the right thing in shutting the SDI system down that had created unbearable tensions. Those had been exciting times. Little did we realize that we stepped backwards that day, instead of advancing forward. We had rejoiced in a success that in real terms was not a success at all, but marked the beginning of one of the greatest tragedies in history that we hadn't foreseen, but that we would have foreseen had we opened our eyes more fully.
The same must be said about society as a whole. My failure had left society unprepared to respond to the great crisis that had occurred. Society had been caught asleep, all of us included. A society that is unprepared to meet unforeseen challenges cannot survive. I had understood this for a long time, but why hadn't I acted on this understanding? Most of the people weren't willing to acknowledge the existence of the crisis while it was unfolding, even while people were dying from it, but I had been more advanced. I had understood the game that was being played with humanity and had done next to nothing with this knowledge for twelve years. I had a greater responsibility, therefore; that of waking humanity! I had failed. It is the mark of a poor character to give no warning when one sees dangers ahead, even if nobody is willing to listen.
I felt tears running down my face when I realized this. Anton and Nicolai died, because I hadn't acted while there was still time, and worse than that, I had acted incorrectly from the very beginning. In Venice we congratulated ourselves with champagne. In Moscow Anton had called me a hero. It all seemed so right what we did. Now Anton was dead because we had been wrong thirteen years earlier. We had been wrong, because we hadn't dug deep enough when everything hung in the balance. We had fished on the surface. We had latched onto the first idea that appeared, that was vaguely founded on a fundamental principle for establishing unity, but unity has no meaning by itself. Unity requires that we enrich one another's existence. I had known that. I had also known that the SDI had been designed to accomplish that. Steve had found this out in Venice. Still, we had shut the SDI down, knowing what it had been meant to accomplish, and could have accomplished.
Because of that failure, two heroic individuals had been forced to deal with the consequences alone, and had lost their lives in the fight. Would they forgive me for having been stupid, when it really counted? And even afterwards, during the years when there was still time to reverse the mistake, I should have used all the diplomatic resources at my disposal to get the governments of the world to recognize the great dangers they faced, and inspired them to re-commit themselves to the original principle of the SDI.
That realization, too, seemed like an excuse. The truth can't be avoided. It struck me like a knife pricing the heart that it was ultimately my own action, not my inaction, which had caused their death. I had been the chief advocate for shutting the SDI program down. I couldn't get away from this guilt. If the SDI system had been in place as it had been designed, any satellite could have been destroyed, anywhere around the earth, within seconds from detection. I had lobbied for shutting the SDI down as a means for dealing with a crisis of tension. I was hailed for having saved humanity, instead I had left it defenseless. I had left it poorer. I had left it at a lower state of civilization and had kicked the genius of LaRouche into the face, who had struggled to raise our civilization. The thought became painful to bear that I had committed a crime against humanity by eliminating the greatest defense system ever envisioned. I had robbed humanity of its chance to build a defense for itself out the resources of its ingenuity, its science, its technologies, and its humanity. I shouldn't have shut it down. I should have convinced the President of our country to invite the Soviet's again and again to participate as an equal partner in the proposed cooperative effort to develop that defense system for the common welfare and the common defense of humanity.
In deep, deep sorrow I knelt onto the ground before the gray stone cross that marked my beloved friends' grave and wept. I begged for their forgiveness, to pardon me for my unforgivable apathy, and for the apathy of the world, but mostly for my own. I should have prevented their death, but like Shakespeare's Hamlet, like the most pathetic fool in all the great literature of the world, I did nothing. Hamlet saw the advancing armies that were approaching to devour his kingdom, but he did nothing. He knew precisely what actions were required to save the kingdom. But like a fool, he did something worse than nothing. He did the wrong thing. He even knew why he couldn't act rightly. He said to himself that it is easier by far to suffer the pains we know than the pains we don't know and the dangers of the unknown land where conventions don't apply but truth does, where one is demanded to be a complete person. I wept, because I had played the role of Hamlet right from the start and kept on playing it for years and years. I knew what needed to be done. Nicolai came all the way from Russia and told us in two powerful lectures what was required, and what did I do? I accepted them as entertainment. For twelve years, while the empire's forces were gaining speed, I had been content to waste my life having a party on the rooftop of the bus that I had allowed to get stuck in mud to its very axles. Damn me, I should have acted like a Joan of Ark and saved humanity like she had saved her nation, and she had been but a child compared to my knowledge, my training, my experience, my leading edge background, and the position of influence that I had established for myself. She had rallied an entire nation and changed its most pathetic king with her powerful innocence. Where was my innocence? I, more than anyone else bore the guilt for the death of three cities and the death of my beloved friends. I beheld Anton's name on the gravestone and cried as I knew that her destiny had already been sealed by my action by the time we met again in Caracas. Twelve years should have been sufficient for me to reverse that, to accomplish for the world what Joan of Ark had accomplished in that glorious brief moment in history when she intervened and altered the destiny of her nation, never fearing for her own life.
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