August 6, 2009

Parallels, Perspective, and Psychology

I've wondered for a long time about the psychology of commonly hated people. How does it feel to be loathed and feared by entire countries? And why would anyone want to feel such loathing and fear? I still don't have an answer. I doubt I ever will, since my career plans don't include brushing elbows with the likes of Kim Jong Il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Every so often I abandon my quest for an answer and decide to find comfort like every other American in either simply hating their guts or forgetting about the whole thing. Those, of course, are the mature and civilized things to do.

But sometimes I really wonder. Take, for example, the case of Kim Jong Il, the long-despised (by Americans at least) leader of North Korea. He, or the government he leads, recently had two American female journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, imprisoned and sentenced to twelve years of hard labor on charges of entering the country illegally and committing vaguely defined "hostile acts." And then, a few days ago, they were released, after Bill Clinton went to North Korea to persuade Kim to let them go.

It just makes me think- how could one person be so callous as to punish the two women so severely (for surely two American women couldn't cause too much harm, even from Kim's point of view)? And then, in some kind of political move, that same person releases them...

I would like to know if Kim really thinks he's doing the best for his country. I sure don't think he is; I saw Diane Sawyer's documentary about North Korea and the sheer indoctrination was terrible to see. But, then, that documentary also left me with another question: Are we, as Americans, also being indoctrinated, albeit to a seemingly lesser extent? After all, ask a United States citizen what he or she thinks of Kim Jong Il and, if he or she recognizes the name, the citizen will respond vehemently in a negative vein- much the same reaction the mention of an American leader elicits from North Korean citizens.

I would say that our government would never imprison people without detailed charges and a good reason, but it wouldn't exactly be true after the recent accusations justly leveled at our government concerning torture. I will say for us that we seem to have many more freedoms than the citizens of North Korea, and that I'd much rather live in this country.

Despite all of my criticism of our government, I am fiercely proud of this country and what it stands for (or, more accurately, what it should stand for, being freedom and democracy and all of those good things). I'd just like to point out the occasional parallel between our hatred of North Korea and its hatred of us.

And as for Kim Jong Il's thought processes: as I said before, I'll never comprehend them. But even though the widespread confinement and suppression and indoctrination of his people is obvious to our eyes, I wonder if he believes, as I hope our leaders do, that he is doing the best for his country...

3 comments:

  1. I know this isn't directly applicable to your post, but I think it was a smart move for the administration to ask Kim for amnesty instead of demanding their release on humanitarian grounds. Ling and Lee were arrested according to North Korean law, and asking for amnesty shows that those laws are to be followed. In many ways, I think North Korea just wants some respect and if we could give it to them in the process of freeing Americans, then I think we did the right thing.

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  2. An insightfull post. Will definitely help.

    Thanks,
    Karim - Creating Power

    ReplyDelete
  3. An insightfull post. Will definitely help.

    Thanks,
    Karim - Creating Power

    ReplyDelete