Select Page



by William H. Benson

December 31, 1998 

      On December 15, 1989 the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu ordered his police to arrest a clergyman, Rev. Laszlo Toekes, in the city of Timisoara in western Romania.  Toekes’s only crime was that he was a prominent and vocal spokesman in promoting the rights of the 2 million ethnic Hungarians who resided inside of Romania.  Not a smart move was it for Ceausescu to arrest this clergyman during Advent, just before Christmas, for the people in Timisoara responded to this most brutal blow with street demonstrations demanding freedom and economic reform.

      During the next two days Ceausescu’s police fired upon the demonstrators killing hundreds if not thousands and burying them in mass graves, but the people stubbornly refused to give up.  The revolt spread to Bucharest, the capital, and finally the armed forces, tired of the killing and of the dictatorship, sided with the protestors.  Ceausescu and his wife Elena were immediately arrested, and charged with genocide and plundering the national treasury.  The secret trial was held on Christmas Day and both, defiant to the very end, were summarily executed by firing squad that same day.

     By New Years Day the truth about this sorrowful dictatorship had filled the world’s newspapers.  Prohibiting birth control in his nation for years, Ceausescu had flooded this poor nation with unwanted children who were then warehoused in orphanages across Romania, a sad result of one man’s control of the national policies.

      Jeanne Kirpatrick wrote, “The socialist view that individual rights should be subordinated to the state, I believe, is wrong and that all the apologists for tyranny who argue that people must forgo freedom while they concentrate on bread are utterly mistaken.  Those who enjoy freedom also have bread.  Those without freedom are, alas, all too often also hungry, cold, and lacking basic necessities.”

      Liberty is not a word used often these days, except when referring to the Statue of, for liberty is the anomoly, the rare gem among peoples of this century and of all the previous centuries.  For, there will always be someone who possesses the great desire to compel others and simultaneously possesses the ability to gain and keep control of power.  Inevitably such a state is exploitive, because the ruler possesses the power to take and to steal from the governed without retaliation. Because power corrupts, liberty resides only in an atmosphere permeated with “laws”.

      In the United States President Bill Clinton answers to a House of Representatives, to a Senate, to the voters, and ultimately to the law.  Within Iraq, Saddam Hussein answers to no one and to no thing and vows never to back down.  Why should he?  There is no law to control him.

     No person has to experience life in a totalitarian state under a ruling dictator to know that it is an ugly and a horrible place in which to live, to work, and to raise children.  Testimony of the Russians, the Cubans, the Romanians, and of others are enough to discourage even the most open-minded of thinkers.  It is life without hope, without progress, without advancement, and without food and clothing.  It is an unbearable and never-ending heartache.


     Christmas is a day for family, for food, for gift-giving, and for the Romanians of 1989 it was their day to execute away a selfish, insecure, grasping, and murdering dictator who had had the temerity to arrest a town’s minister during Advent.  Four centuries ago William Shakespeare described a similar situation this way, “Man, proud man, dressed up in a little brief authority plays such fantastic tricks that even the angels in heaven weep.”