Are we shaped more by genes or experiences? As for myself, I believe a balance of both has guided me through my professional career. An R&D engineer in telecom technologies; at mid-life changing to economic restructuring and financial planning; and now, at a ripe age, turning to social science fiction: a peek into the future for unfettered minds.
Born in Prague at the heart of Bohemia, a land of rolling hills and flowing rivers celebrated in Smetana’s symphonic poem My Country, I grew up under a Soviets-imposed regime. Think of a European version of North Korea. The system eventually self-imploded, but when my wife and I escaped to North America in 1968, the socialist gulag was still going on.
The name Bohemia originates from Boiohaemum or the Boii homeland. The original inhabitants, the Celtic Boii, defended their territory behind its circle of mountains for some five centuries B.C. Early A.D., two brothers — according to legends from the biblical lineage Noah- Japheth-Javan — found their homeland above the Black Sea getting crowded and decided to split. Lech went north to Poland, and Čech with his folks followed the river Danube west. The branch that settled in Bohemia blended with the Boii, producing a vibrant Celtic-Slavic stock. Peace and life loving people, creative and individualist.
The country prospered culminating in the fourteenth century when Karel IV was the first King of Bohemia to also become Holy Roman Emperor. Known as the King Builder, Karel IV built the Prague Castle and the city core as it is today. So there is Karel’s street, Karel’s bridge, and Karel’s University. He was also quite a swinger, marrying four times and sending his good genes to posterity.
But early 1600’s, the country fell prey to aggressive neighbors and remained so, except for brief periods of independence, until the dismantling of the Soviet empire. The subservient Czech Communists defaced my city by a huge granite Stalin monument on a hill overlooking Prague. The most massive in the whole world including Russia! And they had to demolish it when the dictator fell out of favor seven years later.
That experience made me a passionate believer in bottom-up initiative versus top-down governance. Top-down governance has no clue, arrogantly replacing understanding with ideology, and respect for people with social engineering. It protects self-interest and stifles progress. Ideology never learns by admitting mistakes: if there only was one more country to start all over; if there only was more time to engineer society.
The twenty-first century calls for new bold approaches based not on indoctrination but on critical thinking. It’s so encouraging to witness movements like #MeToo or the student #NeverAgain marches. Bottom-up initiatives of unfettered minds are what drives progress; that deep conviction has motivated me to write and publish #TheTwin.