Breakfast

Anthony Viscogliosi: What I learned from my breakfast with Lech Walesa | Other comment

Anthony Viscogliosi: What I learned from my breakfast with Lech Walesa |  Other comment

I recently had the most fascinating breakfast – I consider myself a lifelong learner, and having breakfast at my home here in Manchester was indeed a learning experience. My breakfast guest was one of my personal heroes – former President of Poland (1990-1995) and Nobel Peace Prize winner (1983) Lech Walesa. During our time together, we shared laughter and prayers, while learning lessons of perseverance, faith and freedom from a man who literally changed the world.

There’s something disarming about sitting next to a personal hero, up close and personal, especially when he speaks to you in such a straightforward and friendly way as President Walesa did. There wasn’t even an ounce of pretense in his manner as he spoke on a wide range of topics that mostly focused on the future rather than yesterday, and the humanitarian efforts still needed around the world. . At the forefront of his efforts right now, he is raising funds to support the more than three million Ukrainian citizens – mostly women and children – who fled to Poland after the illegal invasion of their home country by the Russia three months ago.

Lesson number one – the work never stops when your lifelong mission is to help people and try to spread goodwill and humanity throughout the world. Walesa shared with me a travel schedule that would exhaust most people I know, but this charming and persistent 78-year-old took it all in stride. There is work to be done, so he does it.

How incredibly impressive. At an age where a lot of people are relaxing, in some ways it seems like Walesa is just getting started.

The second lesson was one of faith and personal conviction, to fight exhaustively for what you believe in also rang true at breakfast. He was a man of humblest roots – an electrician at the Lenin Shipyard in Communist-controlled Gdansk, Poland – who, through non-violent protests, his relentless personality and unwavering will slowly but surely eroded power of the Soviet Union.

First by creating the Solidarity trade union and, before too long, by joining more than 10 million men and women in his country.

Walesa’s tireless pursuit of freedom led many to call him crazy, thinking he could overthrow a nuclear-armed superpower with leaflets and his own voice, but he did. He never took it personally – he in turn referred to many of his detractors as “radishes” (red communists on the outside, but not at heart). To have that same voice in my ear the other morning as he spoke passionately about the Ukrainian people, Putin’s ills, and the responsibility of Americans to join in the fight against tyranny was something I will never forget. never.

Which brings me to the third and perhaps most important lesson: how we as Americans should never take the freedoms we enjoy for granted. Compared to our American democracy, founded more than 240 years ago, Poland’s freedom is still in its infancy. Walesa told me firsthand that his people sometimes fall into complacency with their newfound freedoms, which has resulted in the election of demagogues. Something that we as Americans have seen ourselves in recent years.

We are so free in this country to speak, act, and worship as we please that we often take our freedoms for granted, treating them more like a birthright than a privilege. But Lech Walesa told me as frankly as possible: “Freedom must be won and preserved every day.

He is right, of course. Being a free people involves responsibility – the responsibility for public service, the responsibility to treat others with dignity, and the responsibility to lend our voices and hands in support whenever we see injustice in the world. This is how Lech Walesa lived his life, and the world is so much better for it.

Our breakfast was over, we shook hands and took some photos and this tall man was off to his next stop in his seemingly endless journey. But Walesa’s lessons have stayed with me, and they always will.

Dr. Anthony G. Viscogliosi is a resident of Manchester. He is a founding partner of Viscogliosi Brothers, LLC and a founding partner and CEO of MCRA, LLC, companies that invest in and provide regulatory advice to the medical technology industry.

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