My Image of the Week this week is a satellite image of the Korean peninsula. We have all seen this image before, especially since the detrimental 2002 "Axis of Evil" speech, when Bush sadly included North Korea in that "Axis". I, like most people (even in Korea), react in the same way when we see this. We offer only short dismissive comments like, Wow! or It's so dark!, yet we don't see what that darkness means. We don't know how that darkness feels, but there are over twenty-million people that can feel that darkness everyday.
When we look at that image, we see a stark contrast between comfort and pain; hope and agony; life and death. We see that, but we continue to offer shallow and thoughtless reactions and, in my opinion, false compassion. How often do we all think about these problems? How often do we think that Korea is the ONLY nation that is divided like this? This issue is not one that I can or will ignore anymore. I'm marrying a Korean and this issue effects me and my future family now, and if you are part of my family now, well then it effects you too. And that's good!
We need to keep the lives that are being lived just kilometers away from where I am writing in the front of our mind. As humans we are responsible for this. They have stories and their stories and plight will be on here from now on.
Elie Wiesel's acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize puts it in perspective.
“Many Europeans knew about the holocaust when it was taking place. But nobody did anything about it. The Nazis are not the only ones responsible for the holocaust. To be silent is to side with the killers.” He added that when human lives and dignity are threatened, people should transcend borders and throw away their passive attitudes."
This type of apathy is so rampant and is easy to ignore because of how far removed we are, but you never know when a country like North Korea or anywhere else for that matter, can somehow become part of your life or family and change your perception on the current state of the world.
You've seen it before, but please take a moment and watch this.
You know how much I love Korea and the Korean people. No one deserves to go through this. Seeing those children in that video is the worst part. I've taught hundreds of Korean children and they are no different from the poor souls that happened to be north of the parallel. They deserve more. I know it will take governmental and economical cooperation to end this division and that will happen from the top-down.
Until then, we must remember, support and respect the lives and dreams that inhabit that darkness.