From the Bridge” by Captain Hank Bracker
The first stacked dolls better known as Russian Nesting Dolls, matryoshka dolls or Babushka Dolls, were first made in 1890 by Vasily Zvyozdochkin. Much of the artistry is in the painting of the usual 5 dolls, although the world record is 51 dolls. Each doll, which when opened reveals a smaller doll of the same type inside ending with the smallest innermost doll, which is considered the baby doll and is carved from a single piece of wood. Frequently these dolls are of a woman, dressed in a full length traditional Russian peasant dress called a sarafan.
When I served with the Military Intelligence Corps of the U.S.Army, the concept of onion skins was a similar metaphor used to denote that we were always encouraged to look beyond the obvious. That it was essential to delve deeper into a subject, so as to arrive at the essence of the situation or matter.
This is the same principle I employed in writing my award winning book, The Exciting Story of Cuba. Although it can be considered a history book, it is actually a book comprised of many stories or vignettes that when woven together give the reader a view into the inner workings of the Island Nation, just 90 miles south of Key West.
The early 1950’s are an example of this. At that time President Batista was hailed a champion of business interests and considered this a direct endorsement of his régime. Sugar prices remained high during this period and Cuba enjoyed some of its best years agriculturally. For those at the top of the ladder, the Cuban economy flourished! However, it was during this same period that the people lower on the economic ladder struggled. A populist movement was started, resulting in a number of rebel bands to challenge the entrenched regime, including the followers of autocrats such as Fidel and Raul Castro.
Castro’s M 26 7 militia had a reputation of indiscriminately placing bombs, one of which blew a young woman to pieces in the once-grand theater, “Teatro America.” A farmer, who failed to cooperate with Batista’s army, was locked into his home with his wife and his daughter, which was then set on fire killing them all. What had been a corrupt but peaceful government, quickly turned into a war zone. Despite of Batista’s constitutional abuses and his alliance with the Mafia, the years under his régime were still the most prosperous ones in Cuba’s history. Of course most of the money went to those at the top of the economic ladder and on the lower end of the scale a house maid was lucky to make $25 to $30 a month.
History tends to repeat itself. Civilized countries that experience economically difficult times, because of greed by the elite and privileged few, become ripe for a civil insurrection. It is not enough to accept the first solution we encounter, but rather we must peel back the layers of onion skin to understand what has happened and how to rectify the problem. Usually things are not as simple as they seem, and to embrace the first person that offers a simple solution can plunge us deeper into an economic abyss. This is what happened in Italy and Cuba as well as Germany in 1933. Remember that Adolf Hitler was elected with a 90% plurality.
Following a populist movement can be disastrous. Strictly adhering to a party doctrine, by the less informed, is outright dangerous. It is important in a democracy that people retain civility and are educated and knowledgeable. It is crucial that we understand history as well as the perils and consequences that are possible.
Reading books like The Exciting Story of Cuba allows us to peel away one onion skin after the other, or open one nesting doll after another, until we understand the entire picture. What has happened in other civilized countries can happen here in the United States…. Beware!