Imagine yourself as a little child.
Where was the place that your felt the most free? Was it an area with few people? Were there many people around? Was it indoors? Was it outdoors?
Thinking back into my elementary school days, the most liberating and freeing area for me was the playground, in particular, my school’s playground.
Located in the most centralized area on the school’s grounds, stood a few 20 feet multicolored jungle gyms, with slides and all the amenities a child could desire. It was public space that created friends and where children learned to be social creatures, ultimately learning the value of community. Being placed within the center of the school, allowed a lot of attention to flow towards that one area.
Given that the playground was a “happy place”, made for fun activities, there was rarely any issues. There were groups of kids who “ran” the playground and others who would enjoy their time outside – recess.
Now, imagine yourself in a Square- “the locus of power” (Remnick 98).
In both spaces, people have experienced the darting shots from an authoritarian regime (those who “ran” the area). From there, power stems. Making it difficult to “dissuade the relative masses” (99).
Red Square – The Soviet Union, invasion of Czechoslovakia
Wenceslas Square – Vladmir Putin and Patriarchs
The government began to realize the power of the public squares. There people would go to protest and freely express their feelings. Independence is what they sought.
After sitting in the Red Square, uttering the lies that the Soviet Union was trying to persuade others believe, various people were arrested and jailed. Troops came in pummeling over the people amongst the cobblestone. Because of their persistence, they believed that they were successfully “break[ing] the flow of unbridled lies and cowardly silence… show[ing] that not all citizens of [their] county agree with the violence that [was] happening in the name of the Soviet people” (98).
Groups like the Pussy Riot in Wenceslas Square, drowned out the threats of the authoritarian regime, by letting the sounds of their voice reverberate off the walls screaming “the power of culture, the power of words, of good and of love, and dominance over violence” (101). Young they were, but timid they were not. Great intentions to dissuade the country from Vladmir Putin’s imperial politics, discriminating women.
No one backed down.
No one was truly defeated.
They were jailed, but never backed down.
Being in a central area, they were noticed.
It’s essential to have space.
“The battle over society – its direction, its temper, its organization, its character- is ofter played out on the square” (108). Such great space allows multiple dissidents to gather in opposition to the oppressor, find others who have faith and believe in the same issue, and call forth attention. Although the public space was being tried to become an unwelcoming place, because of dissidents allowed the space to be one of true freedom.