The news coming from North Korea and hitting the stands today has struck another devastating blow to humanity. I felt compelled to put aside the other potential blog posts I had been working on and make a public appeal to notice those who are suffering.
I’m not a politician. I don’t claim any advanced degrees in foreign affairs. Days, in fact, go by without me reading the headlines or logging onto a news site. My focus remains fixed on doing what I can here at home, in my home; yet, ironically, that sometimes includes opening up to a broader world view.
What is happening in North Korea today is a violation of human decency. The question of compassion begs to be asked. What is going on? How has it come to this? What was the slippery slope that led to a government torturing and oppressing its citizens, and how is it to be avoided? What can be done for them now, today?
My hands feel tied. My heart aches for the mothers forced to watch their children die, for the fathers who cannot protect their families, for those who have become so hardened and hate-filled that they are the oppressors of their fellow Koreans.
I’ve been listening to the song I’m Worn by Tenth Avenue North. The music video is sheer genius. Starting out in the cold and the dark under a leafless, dead-looking tree, surrounded by falling snow and fallen comrades, the lead singer laments being “tired, worn, with a heavy heart” and wearing scuffed boots. His “soul feels crushed by the weight of this world.”
Everything in my chest welled up the first time I heard this song, about a week ago. Tears sat in my eyes because I know that feeling. Anyone who has lived for any amount of time on this planet knows that feeling.
Chills popped out on my arms as, in the video, the chorus began and the sun topped the horizon behind that dead tree; hope leaped onto the scene in the form of sunlight creeping up the trunk, and the screen was gradually growing brighter and warmer. Even more awesome were the leaves beginning to float upwards, and the “bodies” on the ground began to rise. The song picks up in intensity as the band members come to life and take up their instruments and join in singing:
“Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
You can mend a heart that’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
All that’s dead inside can be reborn”
That is my prayer for North Korea. For North America. For myself.
In the world with which we are familiar, leaves fall down and bodies don’t come back to life. Tragedy visits and hearts are broken and families are ripped apart. The world with which we are familiar needs Life. And hope. And Jesus. And we need to be the instruments who sing that song of redemption.
While I may not be able to personally touch the life a tortured North Korean citizen, I can take a minute – or five – out of my day to reflect on his plight; to thank God with everything in me for the blessings of my county; for the security of having my children and husband close and unthreatened; and say a prayer for relief for those who so desperately need it. I can allow their suffering to soften my heart, cause me to view others through the filter of compassion, and teach my children to love their fellow humans, treating them with dignity and respect. I can stand in solidarity with people I’ve never met in a country I’ve never visited and allow the pain of their devastation to bleed into my world and beg for Divine intervention.
And just maybe, together, we can change this world with which we are familiar.
All credit for the song title, lyrics, and video goes to the band Tenth Avenue North. Check them out at tenthavenuenorth.com/ .