Kim Jong Il is dead

Kim Jong Il is dead December 19, 2011

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has died at age 69.

This is big news, I think, but I don’t really know what it means for the future. My thoughts are similar to those of Dr. Thompson:

The strange leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Il, has died. Everyone is worried about what’s going to happen. Hell, we couldn’t figure out North Korea before. North Korea has never been predictable. … I suspect that they will continue to be a head scratcher.

North Korea is one of the most repressive, tyrannical societies in the world. North Koreans seeking greater freedom flee to China. The totalitarian state created by the dead tyrant and his father has worked, in part, by asserting its own Bizarro reality — an entire delusional epistemology. The cult of personality surrounding “Dear Leader” was such that state-run media regularly reported on his golf outings during which, they said, he routinely shot several holes in one. This is a society that has so separated itself from the rest of the world that it sometimes conducts diplomacy through a rib-joint in Hackensack, N.J.

So I can’t pretend to even begin to understand North Korea, or to speculate about what its post-Kim Jong Il transition may entail.

But here is a good reminder of something that is always true: Every dictator dies, eventually, although usually not soon enough. But there’s hope in remembering that.

The death of someone like Kim Jong Il also inevitably brings us back to the question of Hell. On that question, allow me to refer back to a post from 2009, and to quote a bit of that here:

“Life is never fair,” Oscar Wilde noted in An Ideal Husband, “And perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not.” That’s an echo of an earlier playwright: “God’s bodkin man, much better, use every man after his desert and who shall ‘scape whipping?”

We hope for more justice than this world affords, but at the same time we hope for mercy to triumph over justice. Lazarus deserved better, but we don’t necessarily want to “use every man after his desert.”

So not perfect, absolute justice, then, but ultimate justice tempered by mercy.

Surely, though, there must be limits to this mercy. It’s one thing for you or me or the rich man to be cut a bit of slack for our myopic self-absorption, but what about those driven by cruelty and evil to create Hell on earth? What about the mass-murderers and torturers, tyrants and oppressors?

Or, in other words, what about Hitler?

Whatever miserable end befalls a Hitler or an Amin or Stalin or Saddam Hussein in this world it still seems, somehow, inadequate. Those responsible for the suffering and death of millions can only suffer and die once themselves, and this seems disproportionate. It seems unfair. It is unfair.

For that unfairness, that injustice, to be addressed or redressed, it seems there needs to be some further accounting for such evils. Hell, or something like it, seems necessary then for the Hitlers of this world.

It’s quite a leap, though — and a baseless, insupportable one — to jump from believing that ultimate justice requires some kind of accounting for evil to deciding that the precise form of that accounting must conform to the details of the fiery, eternal torment imagined by Dante and Hieronymus Bosch and Jack Chick and a thousand other (extracanonical) sources.

… I believe there will be … some kind of ultimate accountability for evil. I can’t prove this, mind you, but I believe it. And this assertion — that the arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice — can be defended and supported by that Bible we evangelical Christian types put so much emphasis on. The same defense and support cannot be found for the sordidly detailed idea of a sulfurous netherworld to which all non-RTCs will be consigned for eternity.

 

 

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  • Anonymous

    If we’re gonna talk about extracanonical sources of information about Hell, let’s bring in the Squirrel Nut Zippers, OK?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUp_xDqwa1I

  • I care not for the ultimate fate of dictators and tyrants.  All that I care about is that they are gone, and finally out of the way so we can set to the work of building a more equitable society after their passing.  

    However, that does bring me to my biggest concern about North Korea.  The kind of damage their government has done to its own people is… well, “hard to fix” would be understating it.  It is on thing to ruthlessly oppress and crush people.  That alone is a yoke many are eager to throw off.  But the way that they have structured their cult of personality, the people have such a warped view of the rest of the world that even if there were a military liberation of the nation it would take more than a generation of occupation and reform before we would even begin to have a population that could see the rest of the world as anything other than subhuman.  

    I do not care if Kim Jong Il is in hell, but I curse him and his father all the same for what they did.  

  • patter

    I wonder if he’s met Vaclav Havel yet.  What an interesting conversation they might have.

  • Ursula L

    The story of North Korea working through the New Jersey BBQ restaurant is interesting.  It suggests that they’re looking for a certain quality of people to work with, rather than people with a certain amount of power.

    The BBQ guy was someone who was helping his Vietnam vet friends sort out issues with comrades who were MIA.  Nothing glorious, but certainly something good.  And he was open to working with the “bad guys” – he worked with the Vietnamese first, despite all the US angst about the Vietnamese Communists, and he was open minded when approached by the North Koreans.  He didn’t have anything to gain from the work, he was just helping friends.  He wasn’t even a vet helping other vets – it was pure friendship, not soldierly loyalty.  

    People in the US tend to want to see totalitarian dictatorships as pure evil – Nazis, Fascists, North Korea, etc.  

    But the thing is, these regimes work and survive by offering things that are genuinely attractive.

    From my own family history, I know that while the Nazis are seen as being a group which excludes, they were, if you were part of the group they wanted “in”, enthusiastically inclusive.  One of my great-aunts was very active in the BDM, and rose in the regional leadership.  She found it to be valuable that the Nazis were so interested in offering positive opportunities and experiences to girls.  My grandparents met at one of the Nuremberg rallies – it was an exciting time and place when a lot of young adults were gathered together, and there were parties and activities and all sorts of excitement and fun.  They met, and liked each other, and got married, and six months later my father was born.  

    So the North Korean dictatorship finds it preferable to work through an ordinary US citizen, someone who works for their living, rather than through official diplomatic channels, with people who play political games for a living.  That’s interesting.  It’s suggestive about what they considered important and admirable. 

    It’s also suggestive about how US diplomats and officials behave.  Why would the North Koreans choose such indirect diplomacy?  Are the routes of conventional diplomacy genuinely open to North Korean interests? Did the North Koreans choose this route for diplomacy because they’re strange?  Or because they found that the US was not open to conventional diplomatic negotiation?  

    Having a “zero-tolerance” policy for communist dictatorships means that the US has closed the door to any kind of effective interaction. It’s another example of the US’s odd approach to diplomacy that I mentioned in  a previous thread — “Give me everything I want, and then I’ll negotiate with you.”  So if any government the US has targeted for “zero-tolerance” wants to actually engage in diplomacy, then someone running a BBQ restaurant may be a better conduit for diplomacy than actual diplomats.

  • mud man

    Every dictator eventually dies by himself. On his own. Without help from anybody. We don’t always be needing to start wars about it.

  • vsm

    Back in 2000, there were certain signs of thaw in the US-North Korea relationship. Madeleine Albright even visited Pyongyang. Here’s what the New York Times had to say on October 20:
    The six hours of talks between Dr.
    Albright and the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il, were the first
    between such a high-level American official and a North Korean leader.

    “Everyone leaves here rather struck by the
    breadth and depth of the discussions,” the senior official said. This
    was largely because the Americans heard firsthand from Mr. Kim, the only
    decision maker who counts in this country, “what he was prepared to
    do.”

    The two-day visit ended on a cordial note.
    As a parting gift, Dr. Albright presented a basketball autographed by
    Michael Jordan to Mr. Kim, who turns out to be an ardent fan.

    As they said their farewells in
    the lobby of a government guest house tonight, Dr. Albright encouraged
    Mr. Kim “to pick up the telephone any time,” an American official said.
    And Mr. Kim, — the leader of one of the few countries to deny its people
    Internet access but who is himself a keen Internet browser with three
    computers in his office — replied, “Please give me your e-mail address.”

  • Here’s another person who needs to see his life flash by from the POV of his victims.

    It’s going to take a long time.

  • Anonymous

    “North Koreans seeking greater freedom flee to China.”
    Also North Koreans seeking greater not-starving-to-death.

  • Anonymous

    Boy, that’s the setup to the ultimate joke, isn’t it?  “Christopher Hitchens, Vaclav Havel, and Kim Jong Il walks up to the pearly gates, and St. Peter says…” Wish I knew the rest of that joke.

  • I don’t know if Kim Jong Un is going to try to fill his father’s weird, oppressive shoes, but I think it is an important crack in the facade, any way you cut it.  I can’t say I understand Korean politics, but I can’t imagine this will make the border any LESS porous, right?

  • Lori

      That’s interesting.  It’s
    suggestive about what they considered important and admirable. 

    Or suggestive about who they thought they could most easily use.

    Are the routes of conventional diplomacy genuinely open to North Korean
    interests?

    I have issues with the way the US often runs diplomacy, but the problems in
    relations between the US and North Korea are not even remotely all on the US
    side. North Korean has made very good use of it’s nukes. They make offers about
    their nuclear program in exchange for things they want, mostly hard currency.
    They get the money and they temporarily shut down (or simply move) the nuclear
    program. Then when they need more money they fire it up again and make another
    offer to exchange a shut down for cash.

    No offense to the bbq guy, who I’m sure is a wonderful person who I would love
    to meet, but when you’re pedaling that kind of manipulation it’s easier to go
    through people with less information, rather than more.

  • Some may fret over how Kim Jong Il or various other tyrants died naturally without ever facing ‘justice.’   I for one take some comfort in imagining how humilating a common death must be for those obsessed with being gods among men. 

    Then again, the passing of Kim and Havel on the same day is a reminder that the wages of sin and the wages of virtue are exactly the same.  Not so comforting, though perhaps it can serve as a reminder that becoming a monster for the sake of power over others is futile and stupid. 

  • Anonymous

    Much as I would like to think this opens up a new and wonderful era for North Korea, by all accounts Kim Jong Un will be just as bad or worse. As the Bible put it in a similar situation, “My father scourged you with whips, but I will scourge you with scorpions.”

    While I have issues with Fred’s 2009 post, the part quoted here is entirely apt. The modern version of Hell is a result of millennia of fanciful elaboration on a very simple promise of Jesus: The guilty will not go unpunished forever.

  • patter

    Me, too!  I’m also surprised nobody’s quoting his song from “Team America” yet.

  • vsm

    Here’s another person who needs to see his life flash by from the POV of his victims.

    It’s going to take a long time.

    I wonder how many recent US presidents wouldn’t take long. Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, perhaps? Not that Kim il-Jong did not have a lot of victims, of course.

  • ako

    I’ve seen that quoted about a million times on Facebook, and I cringe a bit each time.  It seems like the main joke behind the song is “Asians talk funny!” which strikes me as something with the potential to hurt people who aren’t dictators.

  • Julian Elson

    I think that this is a pretty illuminating talk from B. R. Myers on North Korea if you’re trying to understand what motivates them:

    http://booktv.org/Watch/11315/The+Cleanest+Race+How+North+Koreans+See+Themselves+And+Why+It+Matters.aspx 

  • Anonymous

    I think the main joke behind the song is supposed to be the hilarity of seeing a murderous psychotic warbling about how lonely and misunderstood he is, but yes, the accent is offensive. 

  • Anonymous

    This is the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen:

    http://www.kcna.kp/userAction.do?action=videoindex&lang=eng&newsyear=2011&newsno=1281141

    On a lighter note, a North Korean man living in California upon hearing the news:

    http://cdn.theatlantic.com/static/infocus/kjiobit121911/k30_19020182.jpg

    :D

  • Bush Administration sources reported that Iraq was only two months away from developing a Sorcerer’s — I mean, Philosopher’s Stone.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t quite know how to respond to this post.

  • Mainly, I’m worried that regional instability in the Koreas could spill into a worldwide conflagration. It didn’t take long for some two-bit Bosnian Serb (Gavrilo Princip) who had a hate-on for the local colonial ruler (Ferdinand) to end up causing the whole chain of dominoes that comprised the alliances in pre-WW1 Europe to mount up and start a continent-wide war that drew in the colonies of the world for man (and woman) power by the hundreds of thousands.

    While the situation isn’t perfectly analogous, it is true that a third-rate tin-pot dictatorship could cause a minor conflict that could easily escalate, mainly because said dictatorship is nuclear-armed.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for this post, Fred. I went through this when Saddam Hussein died, and then again when Osama bin Laden died, and once more on Ghaddafi. Celebrating someone’s death, the idea that the end of a life should be cause for cheer, is viscerally terrifying. But how do you mourn the loss of a monster? I’ve tried, generally, to think in terms of grief– for lives thrown away, all who suffered at his hand, and for squandered potential for good, because I cannot believe that any person is utterly beyond good, beyond redemption.

    But all of these are incredibly difficult things to stand by when pushed, sometimes. And my family, friends, classmates, etc, do usually counter with “What about Hitler?” or “What about Stalin?” And then it gets… hard.

  • Cory Panshin

    Hell doesn’t strike me as being in any sense a satisfying solution to the problem of evil — in part because punishment never seems to work in earthly affairs and in part because no amount of punishment seems equal to the suffering a person can cause in one lifetime.  If someone causes 6 million people to die in misery, can any amount of physical pain compensate for that?  And there are also the loved ones of those 6 million who suffered the pain of their loss — how can you exact that many-times-multiplied  emotional pain, especially from someone who was probably a psychopath to begin with?

    This is where reincarnation has the advantage, at least on the theoretical level.  If somebody has to be reborn as a dust mite and gradually work their way back up the food chain, it provides an opportunity for making amends for their crimes, which seems like all around a superior option.

    Some years back, I got to reading the entry in the 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica on the subject of universalism — which exists in several flavors but basically involves a belief that by hook or by crook everybody eventually gets to be saved.  The version that particularly caught my fancy was, I think, a medieval Jewish one in which everyone gets three go-rounds in life to get it right, and if you haven’t figured it out by the third time, they send a guardian angel along with you to make sure you don’t mess up again.

    Terry Pratchett’s novels also include some interesting thoughts on this subject — I believe I’m thinking in particular of the ending of “Small Gods,” but it’s been a while since I read it, so I won’t try to reconstruct it from memory.

    But whatever tack you take, the more interesting challenge is not to say “Hell has to exist because of people like Hitler” but to say “if everybody has to be redeemed eventually, including the Hitlers of this world, how would you go about it?”

  • But how do you mourn the loss of a monster? I’ve tried, generally, to think in terms of grief– for lives thrown away, all who suffered at his hand, and for squandered potential for good, because I cannot believe that any person is utterly beyond good, beyond redemption.

    But all of these are incredibly difficult things to stand by when pushed, sometimes. And my family, friends, classmates, etc, do usually counter with “What about Hitler?” or “What about Stalin?” And then it gets… hard.

    You do not have to feel grief or joy.  One does not feel anger at the storm as it rages across the land, one just feels glad once it has passed.  Lay to rest the monster with the same modicum of dignity due any sentient, and move on.  Sometimes it may be necessary to execute the monster before it can pass.  In this case, do so quickly and cleanly, with neither hate nor fear, but the simple conviction that certain difficult things must be done.  Exalt not and regret not, just know that this is yet one step in improving the world yet to come.  

    It is what it is, and there is no need to make it more or less than that.  

  • Anonymous

    St. Peter says “Are you guys lost?”

  • Some years back, I got to reading the entry in the 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica on the subject of universalism — which exists in several flavors but basically involves a belief that by hook or by crook everybody eventually gets to be saved.  The version that particularly caught my fancy was, I think, a medieval Jewish one in which everyone gets three go-rounds in life to get it right, and if you haven’t figured it out by the third time, they send a guardian angel along with you to make sure you don’t mess up again.

    The last sinner, dragged kicking and screaming and cursing into heaven…

    I like that Jewish model, though – that makes some sort of narrative sense to me. (Actually, that sounds like a great story hook – surely someone has done it?)

  • Tonio

    I don’t see any point to believing in an ultimate accountability for evil. Partly because we don’t know if it exists, and partly because it can leave one vulnerable to disappointment if it turns out that no such accountability exists. But mostly because of a danger that Fred himself has warned against – the focus on rewards or punishments after death can very easy lead to ignorance or even rationalization of suffering during life, where injustices that are within human ability to fix are dismissed as the will of gods.

    The gospel song Farther Along irresponsibly claims that we’ll find out someday why the wicked sometimes prosper and the good sometimes suffer. We don’t know if there is any such purpose or plan behind that injustice. There’s a strong possibility that the only justice that exists is the kind we make ourselves as a species, and it’s probably prudent to be emotionally prepared for that possibility.

    Also, the idea of ultimate accountability assumes that justice is about balancing scales. That’s not really justice, it’s really watered-down authoritarianism that reduces morality to a matter of following rules. It simply pays suffering back with more suffering. That’s one reason I oppose the death penalty, because it punishes the murderer’s family who was innocent of wrongdoing. Real justice is about preventing future suffering to the best of our ability. If Hitler was called to account after he died, or even if he was in a pit of eternal torment like Dante or Bosch described, that wouldn’t bring back the millions he killed. More importantly, it didn’t prevent Kim or other bloodthirsty dictators like Pol Pot from adding to the body counts.

    Kim is dead and he is rightly reviled worldwide. As far as he is concerned, that should be enough for us. As far as his fellow citizens are concerned, our role should be in finding ways to help North Korea out of the literal and figurative darkness.

  • Anonymous

    Cory Panshin:

    The version that particularly caught my fancy was, I think, a medieval Jewish one in which everyone gets three go-rounds in life to get it right, and if you haven’t figured it out by the third time, they send a guardian angel along with you to make sure you don’t mess up again.

    Mike Timonin:

    The last sinner, dragged kicking and screaming and cursing into heaven…

    Somehow, one imagines the great evildoers getting it on the second or third–or perhaps even the first–try. It’s the consciously righteous person who probably needs the guardian angel, because they’re convinced they’ve got it right to begin with.

  • Dan W

    I’m not a big fan of the idea of Hell. In large part that’s because I’m an atheist, and thus I don’t believe in Hell anyway. But my main problem with the concept of Hell is that it’s an infinite punishment for finite crimes, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone- even crazy, evil dictators.

  • Anonymous

    This is well said.

  • FangsFirst

    and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone- even crazy, evil dictators.

    There are people I’d wish it on.

    But it’s all irrational and super-personal so it doesn’t really count for much in the end.

    But, still. I could happily have them suffer for all eternity. Which is probably sick and wrong, but when their actions cause someone I care about to spend the rest of their lives suffering, I’m less than concerned.

    …Okay, right, I need to not touch on this anger. It’s unhealthy. It’s unhealthy. It’s unhealthy. *deep breath*

    Less personally, and avoiding the above: I actually agree with Dan. I don’t think finite crimes deserve infinite punishment. I don’t think there is ultimate accountability, but then I take a weird comfort from the idea that nothing happens for reasons beyond complicated cause and effect–no one is guaranteed anything.

  • Dan Audy

    I don’t believe in a hell because it fundamentally contradicts my conception of god.  Whatever we’ve done in this world stays in this world and by grace we are forgiven.  We don’t have to deserve grace, thats the entire point of it – it is a gift of god freely given despite our falibility and failings.  My personal hope is that nearness to God grants those who have done evil the capacity to know and understand their wrongs so that they know the sorrows they have caused – not so that they suffer (though omniscient knowledge of the suffering you’ve caused is a very hellish concept) but so that they might seek forgiveness.

  • Where ever she is, I bet Megumi Yokota’s happy.

    She’s that Japanese woman who was kidnapped by the Norks at age 13.

    That whole regime is vile beyond my powers to describe.  I’ve spoken to people who escaped it, when I was in Hong Kong. 

  • Tonio

    Which is probably sick and wrong, but when their actions cause someone I
    care about to spend the rest of their lives suffering, I’m less than
    concerned.

    That’s why heaven and hell as concepts are less about justice and more about a human desire for vengeance, which often gets in the way of real justice. One reason Dukakis probably lost in 1988 was, when he was asked if he would favor the death penalty if his wife were raped and murdered, he didn’t show enough passion in his answer. People much wiser than me have suggested a much better answer, something like, “Of course I would be livid and I would want to see the guy fry. But that’s exactly why we have a criminal justice system and why the death penalty is wrong, because a justice system that operates purely on emotion isn’t just at all.”

    Dan W and FangsFirst are right about infinite punishment being grossly unjust for finite crimes. I’ve said already that punishment should really about achieving more justice and reduced suffering for everyone, instead of balancing the scales. Following that principle may involve a version of delayed gratification, ultimately keeping our individual emotions in check for the common good. Ultimately it would mean recognizing that the universe is not an inherently just place. If there is some form of reward or punishment after death, it’s folly to assume that these resemble what we would want to happen. We shouldn’t assume that the universe cares about what humans think or want.

  • Anonymous

    The problems go even deeper than that, horrible as it is.  North Korea now has a whole generation that is stunted mentally and physically due to chronic malnutrition.  .  

  • Cathy W

    Agreed. I’m not an expert, but I heard one interviewed on the radio last night…. it sounds like the cult of personality doesn’t have a lot of buy-in among ordinary North Koreans (they’re isolated, but not so isolated that they don’t know they’re getting screwed over), and probably even the elites are mostly paying lip service to the official party line because that’s how you stay elite. But I recall hearing that South Korea has an official government department for the purpose of integrating North Korean refugees/defectors into society, and it’s quite difficult – they have a hard time dealing with sudden abundance (imagine walking into a modern megagrocerymart when the only choice you’ve ever had to make about food was whether you were skipping lunch or dinner today) and the trappings of life in a modern society.

    I think anyone planning for eventual reunification of North and South Korea would do well to look at the German experience – and then consider that North Korea’s underlying problems are exponentially larger than East Germany’s were.

  • It’s going to be a mess if it happens too fast. Even East Germany with a similar level of technological sophistication to West Germany still had major adjustment problems on an individual and nationwide level. The simplest example is the poor condition of the roads in East Germany. I’ve seen videos from 1990 when people drove the East German autobahns, as well as still pictures.

    To save money the government sometimes let one side of the divided carriageway just go completely to pot (it would be like taking your average divided highway in the US and permanently pushing traffic onto one of the two sets of lanes, so two lanes in one direction becomes one lane in two directions).

    The only thing saving a lot of North Korean infrastructure as it is, is that it’s used so little compared to modern standards.

  • Before I ask this, if you don’t want to answer, and I think you have pretty good reasons not to want to, I’ll understand.  Or if not understand I promise not to hold it against you or anything.

    There are people I’d wish it on.
    Would you really?  (I ask in all seriousness having no idea what the answer would be.)

    So the first week, or year, or decade, or century, or millennium or whatever you’ll be all full of righteous anger, but what about after that?  What about after a million years, a billion, or trillion?  What about after forty-three quintillion, two hundred fifty-two quadrillion, three trillion, two hundred seventy-four billion, four hundred eighty-nine million, eight hundred fifty-six thousand years?  Or a googol years, or a googolplex years?

    Eternity is a long time, could you really sustain the level of hate necessary to want someone to keep on being tortured for all of it?

    I’m not talking about in terms of what people deserve, which you’ve already touched on, I’m asking if you can really see yourself X years from now, as X approaches infinity and entire lifespan of the universe becomes as nothing in comparison, such that you’re in the year [we don’t even have words to describe the number of digits in this number] CE, looking at someone who wronged you now who has been tortured for the entire intervening time, and saying, “They need more torturing, so much so that what they’ve been through so far is negligible in comparison.”

    Personally, no matter how much I may hate a person now, I can’t imagine that after the person had been tortured for 9436786976234976198470198714756349816746983475298658726497264087469711334342421098347591038750391094731098475109485710857987893750193871509878 years I’d still wish more on them.  Much less after that to the power of itself to the power of itself years.

  • The Lodger

    When I saw the name “Doctor Thompson,” I wondered how you knew what this guy had to say about Kim Jong Il…

  • As they say in Latin, “Pallida mors aequo pulsat pede pauperum tabernas regumque turres.”  

    It means that for the poor or the rich, death claims them with indifference.  Good people die.  Bad people die.  Beyond that veil of death is a realm of spiritual speculation, but where a person ends up in that realm is an academic matter.  It is of no serious concern that people are punished or rewarded after life passes from them.  The only factor that has bearing on those they leave behind is that they are gone.  

    If a person who has done atrocities dies, I see no particular reason to wish further harm upon them.  They could not escape their eventual termination any more than I could, no matter if that termination is by nature, human agency, or the fickle travails of this chaotic universe.  

    Contrarily, if a person who has done good works dies, I see no particular reason to wish eternal reward on them.  They have earned their rest, we should leave them to it.  If the works they did before death claimed them are judged worthy, then we should continue with them.  The works of all those who came before form the foundation for all those who come after.  Build yourself on a good foundation, and leave a good foundation for those who come after.  

    Either way, how we regard the dead is of no concern to the dead.  Rather, how we regard the dead is about what kind of message we want to send to those who are still living.  

  • FangsFirst

    For safety’s sake I’m going to preface this–

    TW: Physical torture/suffering, reactions to trauma, absolute callousness about the well-being of others.

    In general, I REALLY don’t like some “people” who you do not know, and I am going to make no bones about this. I’m not going to be explicit or anything, but I am going to come off as pretty horrifying and unpleasant.

    Before I ask this, if you don’t want to answer, and I think you have
    pretty good reasons not to want to, I’ll understand.  Or if not
    understand I promise not to hold it against you or anything.

    There are people I’d wish it on.
    Would you really?  (I ask in all seriousness having no idea what the answer would be.)

    I’m fine with answering that question. The anger is the one thing I feel complete ownership of. It’s very definitely mine. I am extremely wary of explaining it (obviously) because, as alluded, the living waste involved didn’t directly do anything to me. Alongside that, the anger is the easiest focus, because I don’t have as much reason to fear someone coming along and saying, “How dare you be hurt! This didn’t happen to you!”¹ Which, considering I’ve already been harassed by ignorant (literally) people surrounding the one to whom it did happen–partly by assumption that sudden changes in said person were my fault, partly out of a bunch of extremely insane and disturbing and controlling beliefs some of them held about said person and how they should decide zir life–doesn’t seem like anything less than an almost definite possibility.

    So, that obviously sort of pushes a bunch of emotions from elsewhere into the anger, but the reality was this:

    I asked a therapist how on earth to get rid of the anger, and was told basically I can’t. Which, realistically, is true. It can’t ever be (as far as I’m concerned) my place to forgive an action against someone else for them. I’m not even sure I could do that given permission from the one against whom an act is committed.
    What I WAS told was to write down my feelings so that I could look at them.
    I kept writing and writing and writing and writing–the final conclusion was that I could not develop a suffering severe enough to account for what was done. That was, sadly enough, what gave me the ability to (sort of) let the anger go. It was too big to ever deal with, and there was no concievable end to it, so I just sort of go on without it being present anymore. Most of the time.²

    So, in that respect: the idea of eternal suffering seems appropriate.
    But of course the realities of eternity aren’t easily perceived. And I think the Total Perspective Vortex wouldn’t really do much to me, if you follow, so I think I have an extra poor grasp on it, and may not mean it in the end, but I don’t know.

    But, really, when you are pretty sure that you could honestly laugh in the face of scum’s loved ones grieving at their funeral (out of a sense that they were in some sense responsible for that filth’s existence as garbage), eternal suffering doesn’t seem like a big jump.

    ¹Therapists telling me it did in it’s way doesn’t really change this for me. I’m a little stubborn and a little too interested in others and not myself. It seems selfish to me, which may be in defiance of reality, I guess. Possibly also unhealthy to deny, but that’s wrapped up in a lot of seemingly permanent self-recrimination.

    ²There are other factors, that mean I’m not at risk despite the *extremity* of my emotions. Mostly I’m a realist and a few odd details about circumstances mean I could not possibly be prepared. Living in my head also gives me huge windows to prevent myself from doing most anything as I think way too much first. Hell, as I typed that I thought, “I’d be at risk from all the time I’d be spending thinking of how to proceed next.”

  • hf

    “Christopher Hitchens, Vaclav Havel, and Kim Jong Il walks up to the
    pearly gates, and St. Peter says…” Wish I knew the rest of that joke.

    “The Spider Robinson fans were right,” if it gets that far.

    I mean, other schools of thought say everyone goes to one place, but only a weird future society would bother to put “St. Peter” out front.

  • Adlang

    Cubbys is a great place to eat! ;)