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The Gulag Archipelago Volume 1- Solzhenitsyn

By Jonathan Jin

One of the things that has struck me is the great danger of lying to yourself. I saw this play out in visceral detail from the Gulag Archipelago Volume 1, written by the Russian Nobel Laureate, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. During his life in the Soviet Union, approximately one in three people were government informers, and the lies of the collective society progressively destabilized the nation, leading ordinary men and women into a decent to chaos. The utopian communist ideal was embodied, but it turned out to be murderous, cold, and plain evil. Solzhenitsyn's life is a testament to how an individual cut through the mire and the noise of a corrupt time to find light in darkness—his lived experience is worth thinking about.

Solzhenitsyn believed that the radical restructuring of human soul is an antidote to corruption. It is an arduous, iterative, and challenging road but with each moral decision his life shows that it is possible. You start to see simple pleasures like the first cell you are locked up in, eating stale bread crumbs, and feeling the warmth of a shabby blanket (even amidst a decrepit, death cell in Solzhenitsyn’s case). Yet, this gradual restructuring of the soul also attunes you to the great capability of evil in ordinary men and women. Solzhenitsyn shows us that we cannot delude ourselves of the depravity in our own hearts. When this becomes clear to you, you subsequently start searching for answers and hope, desperately. When you get right down to the core of your intuitions you realize that it is your soul that is crying out for hope in the form of a saviour. It is humbling to realize you cannot do this by yourself. However, the Biblical worldview shows us there is a path carved out for us to follow, much like a lamp to your feet in a dark, unknown path. The lamp may not light up your entire world at once, but the proximal illumination is just enough to press onto the next step.



Written by: Jonathan Jin

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