Google just announced an update to its maps of North Korea, including the location of city-sized gulags. Think about that: prisons as large as cities. Reports indicate that what goes on in these places is as bad as Hitler’s concentration camps. Not only that, if a NK citizen commits a crime against the State, the citizen’s whole family can get thrown in a camp.
No wonder the images we see from NK show mass conformity on an energetic and zealous scale. If you dare express the slightest deviation, your whole bloodline could be gone--everyone you care about slowly tortured to death in a hell hole as large as a city.
Truly think about it.
I ask you to do this because most of the time, we don’t. And that’s a problem. That’s why humanity might be doomed. We have it in us to ignore hells. To adapt without questioning. To lower our heads. Numb our sensitivity.
And yet without such sensitivity, how can we muster the passion and courage to challenge injustice? If injustice remains unchallenged, it spreads to devour as much as it can.
We all look back at Hitler’s camps and say “How terrible.” We tremble inside. All the books around us, the media, the internet, tell us how horrorific Hitler was.
People in the future (if we have one) will look back at us and say, “How could they have been so blind to such evil in North Korea?”
Sensitivity. Empathy. A poetic passion. These are hard to regain. They are stolen from us early in our lives. When I first allowed myself to realize what evils the US Government was supporting (the CIA overthrowing democratically elected leaders; the Phoenix Program in Vietnam, and so on and on), I fell into utter despair--nervous breakdown--for about two years. It was like cracking a stone shell around my heart, and the eruptions almost killed me.
But they also brought effusions of bright beautiful emotion. New eyes, ears, tastes and all the other senses alert. Raw life. I am so glad it happened. It brought so much pain and, in paradox, meaning and also the joy of the struggle to be on a good path.
To seek The Good.
I guess what I am saying in this blog entry is this: we need as many people as possible to ‘wake up’ in the sense of breaking the stone shells around our hearts. Denial. Dull habit. Deadening alienation. These harness and harm the human spirit.
It is well known now that humanity’s shared culture is evolving. Our collective consciousness shifts on. Women can vote in some places. Huge change. Gay marriage accepted in some places. Huge change. Awareness of the Earth as vulnerable. Huge change.
These positive changes must win the race against another kind of change: the sort that refuses to look beyond the acculmulation of money. This latter sort of change, this kind of “growth,” “expansion,” and “reconfiguration” is ultimately soul-numbing. Greed is at the helm. Greed blossoms in the numbed soul.
Unfortunately, humans will adapt to and accept an uglier, more poisonous, less happy, more busy, incredibly stressed world. We can be just as lockstep as ants. But there is another option, one that makes us more than ants: we must wake up our sensitivity, our empathy, our love of life. We must embrace the ethical motivation of the liberated heart.
We need to be sickened by places like North Korea. We need to hate atrocities like global sex trafficking. We need as many people as possible to start to fight for The Good, by which I mean human rights and universal dignity.
Vast changes in consciousness are possible. History shows that. Little acts can have big unintended consequences. Chaos theory shows that.
Simply loving the fact that you are alive, this itself is a powerful act. It has ripples.
It’s that easy--and hard. Find yourself.
PS: Do I spend every moment of every day in a deep state of awareness for the suffering of others? Absolutely not. That’s not what I’m saying.