A friend stayed at a Moscow hotel on a recent business trip and relayed an interesting encounter. While packing to leave for his next destination, he noticed some boys playing in a park across the street. They seemed happy enough, kicking around what, from a distance, looked like a ball. Yet something was amiss. Even though the November morning was cold and blustery, the boys were not wearing shirts.
Once my friend finished packing, he walked with a suitcase in each hand to await his transportation in the nearby park. In his broken Russian, he could not resist asking the boys why they were not wearing shirts. Incredulity spread over the boys’ faces as they stopped the game and looked at him. Shivering, one of them replied, “Because we have no ball.” It was then that my friend more closely scrutinized what they had been kicking, slowly realizing that the ball was actually a bunch of shirts knotted together.
Opening his suitcase, he took out some T-shirts for each of the boys to wear, wishing he also had jackets or sweaters to give them.
Having inhibited its people’s faith, Communism even robbed them of their liberty to produce sufficient wealth to provide a ball for some boys to kick around. Marx’s regrettable experiment in Russia never yielded the promised utopia in which people would “hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, make love in the evening, and criticize at dinner just as they please.” Instead, barebacked young boys’ teeth chatter while they tie their shirts together to play a game of soccer.
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Rev. Robert A. Sirico
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