George Graham

What Can We Learn from a Dictator’s Death?

I should be trying to figure out what Kim Jong Il’s death means to the rest of the world.  That’s what a responsible blogger would do today. But I am not in the mood.

Instead, I am inclined to ponder the whereabouts of Kim Jong Il this morning. The North Korean people probably imagine him enthroned in some celestial realm, eating ambrosia and drinking nectar – or whatever gods eat and drink in the Juche religion.

We Christians would certainly not see him in Heaven.  From what I have read about Kim Jong Il, we would expect him to be burning in Hell.

He set himself up as some kind of god, lied about anything and everything, including his golf score (he claimed to have 18 holes-in-one in a single round!), ate rice grown on some holy mountainside with each grain the same shape and size, funneled all his country’s resources into developing a million-man army, and strutted about in extravagant splendor while his people starved.

And there was that matter of the nuclear weapon he was supposed to be developing, much to the dismay of Uncle Sam and other world leaders.

Now, he is dead. And someone else will become North Korea’s Dear Leader,  probably eating perfect rice grown on a holy slope and telling lurid lies while his people starve.

As Herman Cain famously said, I got all this stuff twirling around in my head… Mostly trite and threadbare cliches, of course. Death lends itself to that kind of thing.

Perhaps weirdly, among the things that Kim Jong Il’s death made me think of was Trinity Episcopal Church in New York City and the way it treated the Occupy Wall Street protesters.

After all, vanity and arrogance are the same in America as they are in North Korea, or anywhere.

The supposedly Christian people who run that church not only refused to let the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators use a vacant lot they own but set the cops on them when they climbed the fence. According to Truthout writer J.A. Myerson:

(Police) clad in riot gear despite the complete lack of threat of a riot, shoved and tossed peaceable protesters out of their way in pursuit of the lot’s occupiers. There, they arrested the clergy, the hunger strikers, the occupiers and all, including Packard. What a sight to behold: a real estate corporation/Episcopal church, sending what the 12th richest man in America calls his “army” in to bust the church’s Chief Chaplin.

I grew up in the Anglican Church, and I always thought that Episcopalians were basically American Anglicans. But the church I knew taught us that Jesus chased the money changers out of the temple. By those lights, Jesus might have been among the first protesters over that fence, as was the church’s own chief chaplain Bishop George Packard.

So what does that show us?

Power corrupts?  Human beings can’t stand a little authority without going berserk?

Once again, I got all this stuff twirling around in my head…

Click here to read the Truthout piece.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for