Over the past day or so, we’ve gotten the news of the deaths of two prominent global leaders: former Czech president Vaclav Havel and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il.
The two men could not have been more different. Havel was a brave voice in the wilderness of communist hell. Locked and brutalized behind the Iron Curtain, Havel became one of the most dynamic and eloquent dissidents of the cold war era. He spoke out relentlessly and profoundly about the soul-crushing nature of communism, the trampling of the individual and the basic human desire for liberty. He was an artist and a poet, which made him even more loathed by his communist overlords. But more importantly, Havel was a warrior for liberty, with his words that rang out throughout the Soviet bloc, and later with his actions when he became president of a free Czech Republic. Havel was true hero of freedom.
On the opposite side of the scale was Kim Jong Il. He spent decades studying communist brutality and oppression at the feet of his tyrannical father, Kim Il Sung. When he ascended to power, the totalitarianism of the North Korean regime didn’t miss a beat. He plunged his people deeper into poverty and despair. He starved millions to death. His country rationed electricity, so much so that at night, satellites showed the northern end of the Korean peninsula drenched in darkness every night. Those who dared to speak out were sent to the gulag, never to be heard from again. His regime was the most isolated on earth, but it was nuclear (its only point of leverage with the United States and the west and what made it markedly more dangerous.)
Havel and Kim: the yin and yang of human freedom. Interesting that they were called to meet their Maker on the same day. What different stories they have to tell Him—and what very different legacies they leave.
Have PoliticalMavens.com delivered to your inbox in a daily digest by clicking here