Friday, November 13, 2009

BYU Berlin Lecture - Dr. Lynn Hansen

On my post from Monday about the 20th anniversary of the Berlin wall celebrations, an anonymous commenter asked that I post whatever notes I could, so this is my best attempt at complying with that request. I didn't actually take notes, so this is to the best of my recollection.

Dr. Hansen's remarks centered largely around allowing the Lord to take you wherever it is that he wants you to go. That seems to be a theme that I've been hearing lately, as I was able to attend a different faculty forum later in the week where the professor's message was very similar.

He started out in the Air Force, and I can only assume that he served his mission for the church in Germany, because he had so much familiarity with the language and the culture. He recounted stories about his run-ins with the Soviets who occupied East Germany, and one encounter that he had while trying to help an East German citizen smuggle her brother across the border, only to see him taken away by Soviet law enforcement.

The main thrust of his remarks had to do with the familiarity he developed with the Russian armament system while serving the armed forces over in Germany. He applied for a few jobs with government agencies before eventually being picked up by one that dealt directly with the Russians, which eventually led to the negotiations that he took part in that helped to broker a reduction in arms between the former USSR and the USA.

Because of some promptings that he had about pursuing certain programs that had been largely set aside, and his extensive experience through the years in coming to understand how the Soviets functioned militarily, he was able to negotiate a hard-line stance with the Russians that forced them to negotiate down to the parameters that the US had set. What was even more impressive was that for the deals to go through that he helped to broker, it required also the approval of other allies, including Spain and Italy, which would have proved daunting for anyone else, but because of the familiarity that those representatives had with Dr. Hansen, and their understanding of his stalwart character, they signed off on the deals that he had negotiated.

When I write about that now, it seems as if he spoke in very self-aggrandizing tones, but this was not the feeling that came across as he lectured. What he communicated about himself and his role in everything that happened was that he was simply an agent in the Lord's hands, that God was able to work through in order to help bring about his ends.

Another thing that I appreciated about this lecture is how much of it seems to be in conjunction with President Reagan's stance with the Soviets: while so many people in the state department and in his cabinet thought it was absurd for Reagan to believe that he could defeat communism, they thought a policy of containment was the only realistic possibility. Reagan always believed that our country was in the right, and that through his foreign policy, he could make the Soviets kowtow to the American agenda. Dr. Hansen acted in perfect concert with Reagan's own personal policies on the matter, and was probably one of many pieces that helped bring about the fall of communism, which included the collapse of the Berlin wall.

After his time in public service, Dr. Hansen was called to church service as mission president over in Germany, and just last June finished up another mission following his time as mission president wherein he collected oral histories from German saints. Of all the time and accomplishments that he was able to achieve, he was most proud of what he was able to help bring about in the service of the Lord.

I'm definitely short-changing you on the details and the feeling that Dr. Hansen communicated, but hopefully that gives you a sense of the charmed experience that he had in Germany.

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