Who’s Sorry Now?

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The government of North Korea released video of its people grieving the death of Kim Jong-il. North Korea’s leader passed away on a train trip on Saturday, reportedly from a heart attack. Two full days passed before word of Kim Jong-il’s death reached the rest of the world, underscoring once again how isolated North Koreans are from the outside world.

Not that that is necessarily a terrible thing. We would all do better without a daily dose of the Kardashians. No doubt the North Koreans would find the Kardashians appalling, the transfiguration of the Adams Family, if only they knew the reference. But unlike Americans, North Koreans have had very limited access to idol worship.

They only have one idol, and he’s now dead.

It must make Dick Cheney envious to see this display of devotion to a political figure. Cheney would have fit in very well in North Korea. He’s all about a show of military poweress and a braggart’s bravado. If only he could rule Wyoming the way Kim Jong-il ruled North Korea.

Many Americans have taken to Facebook and Twitter mocking North Koreans for mourning a leader that has routinely been depicted as the face of raw evil. North Korea’s Supreme Leader was the country’s only celebrity. He was what you get if you were to put the charm of Elvis, the political savvy of Bill Clinton, the sensuality of George Clooney, the magical powers of Harry Potter, the electrifying cult following of Lady Gaga, and the rhetorical powers of Jesus into one very flawed human being.

Not that there is any other kind of human being. There isn’t. There are just delusional people who think they aren’t flawed.

Kim Jong-il was reportedly among the mix of those who felt that they are beyond reproach. His word wasn’t just his bond. It was also a serious threat. His message to the rest of the world very clear – Don’t mess with me or I will cut you. Or at least that’s the media blitz, even now, days after his death.

I was standing in a very long line at the post office today when a woman seven people back announced loudly: South Korea is on alert.

No one seemed to respond the way she expected so she said it again, shouting this time: SOUTH KOREA IS ON ALERT BECAUSE OF WHAT’S GOING ON IN NORTH KOREA.

A few people turned and looked at her, one eyebrow cocked, but, thankfully, no one felt the need to drop to the floor and seek shelter under the laminate counters.

In a bold display of faith, I bought a book of stamps.

It was my way of saying to the lady and the relentless talking yahoos rattling on cable TV and radio that I am not afraid. I’ve always understood that Kim Jong-il was fated for death. The way we all are.

When I watch the video of North Koreans wailing, I don’t feel smug, I feel an overwhelming sense of sorrow.

For them and for us.

Those very same Americans who belittle the North Koreans for their weeping have wasted much of their own lives adoring idols of their own making.

Watching the North Koreans grieve is like catching a glimpse of our future.

The one in which we realize, too late, that we’ve wasted our lives following the wrong Supreme Leaders.

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About Karen Spears Zacharias

Author. Speaker. Journalism Instructor. Four kids. Three dogs. One grandson.


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