Like North Korea – Religion and Politics

Kurt's Religion and Politics

It’s hard to imagine anything more insulting, than a person in the poorest part of the United States, trying to imply their life invokes images of North Korea in their mind. To be clear, I’m not indicating it’s insulting to me, but to those who’ve lived or are living in that country.

I know such a person likely has zero idea what it’s like to spend your waking life, worrying not that you’re going to do something that’s “not state sanctioned,” but that your child, neighbor, or even a total stranger, is going to turn you over to the government for some sort of “correction” or other, based on a perceived wrong.

They likely have no realization that people just, disappear in such places.

It probably doesn’t occur to them, that there are children who if they’re lucky, never again see the parent who just one day, went missing with no explanation.

They count themselves blessed, that they still have the other parent, assuming they do.

If they’re old enough to understand how such a country functions, they realize that both their mother and father, and that even they, could have been held responsible for the perceived acts of the one lost to them—this is not at all an uncommon occurrence.

And depending on the assessed wrong (often whether provable by those doing the collection and processing, or not), the result may be death—not necessarily by any means, in a pretty, pleasant, or even expedient manner.

Then there’s the individual who supposedly erred in some way, but wasn’t found to have “committed a crime,” worthy of execution, or torture. No, he or she just ends up in a “labor camp” (read here, “essentially a gulag”) for some extended period of time.

If he or she manages to survive confinement, and is actually released—which thing is nothing like guaranteed—the person returning is very commonly, but a shadow of the one who left.

Scary enough yet? Imagine the poor soul was hanging by a thread before being incarcerated and forced to work horribly long days in terrible conditions.

This, boys and girls, is North Korea, to more than a few of the nation’s residents.

To be clear, though the number who find themselves suffering such fates, may not be all that high, the knowledge it could’ve easily been them, is enough to keep the remainder of the population in terror and subjugation.

What makes this sadder, is that the people not in such circumstances are often starving, freezing in the winter for want of ways to warm themselves, but in infinitely better shape than those previously discussed.

What are the chances you’ll not be among the impoverished? Not great. Are you a member of the party? Are you a person in a position of authority? In that case, the chances are better you won’t live in desperate need.

That said, you have to be that much more careful to not cross lines in many cases, for doing so, may mean death or imprisonment; and because you’re among the “favored class,” your errors are considered that much more egregious. As such, it can be largely expected the result of being found out, will indeed be blood-curdling.

Yet again, your wrong may not’ve even been real. All that was needed, was a perception.

Now imagine this.

The person doing the earlier comparison of their life, to that of a resident of the place in question, likely lives in a nice apartment or home, probably has all the food he or she needs (and I’m betting, then some), may well drive to work in a reasonably nice car (maybe not too new, but likely not horribly old), and—like me—spends his or her time typing opinions, for others to read.

Unlike me, he or she actually gets a regular, not-too-disappointing paycheck for so doing.

It’s amazing to me, the individual in question, feels the need to contrast his or her existence, to that of someone living in the boondocks in North Korea.

Even if we assume the person against whom the comparison was made, lived in Pyongyang, and was a member of the party in good standing, it’s clear the individual having done so, is likely in substantially better shape.

This is the world in which we now live.

In this case, the writer choosing to put him or her self up against a North Korean, did so as a result of the fact that, while serving as a reporter in the White House, there was a possibility that he or she was around someone who may’ve been infected with COVID-19.

Is that an unfortunate fact? Certainly! Does it entitle that individual to make such a comparison? Not only would my answer be, “No!” but if I were an escapee expatriate from that country, I would be incensed by it.

What makes the actions of the person in question yet more unreasonable? Simply this. If you’re under the age of 65 in this country, the chances of your having died of COVID-19 are so small, as to almost be unworthy of mention.

Since the 1st of February of 2020, the number having died of the virus under that age, has been less than 40,000, at last reckoning by the Centers for Disease Control.

That would be an average of less than 5,000 per month.

So on a percentage basis, for the whole period, that would be less than 0.02%, or two in ten thousand. On a monthly basis, your chance is not as bad as 0.002%. That, for the mathematically challenged (not judging), is less than two in one hundred thousand.

I recognize there are other less than desirable outcomes. The numbers are not nearly as low for them. On the other hand, they’re not terribly high either.

Looking at this from the outside, particularly considering that there’s as good a chance of being infected as a result of walking in one’s local supermarket (yes, even with the mask, which is designed to protect others, not you, and is far from perfectly effective), is it really not over the top for someone to have such a perspective?

I’m afraid even former denizens of the DPRK, will likely count comparing the chance of contracting COVID-19, to living in their former home, more than a little ridiculous. If you were to ask most, “If you could be assured you’ll contract COVID-19, but after recovery, could leave your home and be among the poor in the United States?” I’m pretty strongly of a mind almost all such people, would readily take that deal.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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